Tag:Anfernee Hardaway
Posted on: March 12, 2011 1:17 am
Edited on: March 12, 2011 1:28 am

Russell Westbrook joins elite stats club

Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook joins an elite club of NBA players who accumulated points, rebounds and assists early in their career. Posted by Ben Golliver. russell-westbrook

Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook is one of the most intriguing players in the NBA because Kevin Durant's presence makes it so easy to overlook him, at least until you watch him play. When that happens, Westbrook inevitably leaves you speechless. I've gone through this process at least 15 or 20 times and yet his name still doesn't come to mind immediately during the "elite point guards" discussion, as he gets left behind guys like Derrick Rose, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo and others.

The craziest thing about the fact that Westbrook is still overlooked is that he's been doing it for awhile -- a long while -- already. On Friday night, Westbrook joined an elite statistics club alongside some of the biggest names to ever play the game.
Westbrook added 13 points and 11 assists, becoming the fifth player in NBA history to reach 4,000 points, 1,500 assists and 1,000 rebounds during his first three years in the league. The others are Chris Paul, LeBron James, Anfernee Hardaway and Oscar Robertson.
Surveying this list, you see some of the most complete players of the modern era. In James and Paul you have arguably the two best all-around players currently playing in the NBA, in Oscar Robertson you have arguably the best all-around player of all time and in Anfernee Hardaway you have probably the single biggest case of "What could have been if not for injuries" over the last 20 years. Early Penny was just ridiculous; No one could match up with him. 

So how did Westbrook get here? A combination of a few very important factors.

First, it speaks to how much trust was placed in him immediately upon his entry into the NBA. This is a guy who was averaging 32.5 minutes as a 20 year-old-rookie point guard, a feat not often seen, especially these days when coaches are so often afraid to play young players so as not to risk their own jobs. 

Second, it says a lot about his durability: Westbrook didn't miss a single game in either of his first two seasons and hasn't yet missed a game due to injury this season. That's 228 straight games and counting.

But Westbrook hasn't just had the opportunity to play and good luck with health, though. He's also been insanely productive, improving his points per game and assists per game each year that he's been in the league, and being a steady, rock solid rebounder since Day One. His unique skillset -- an insane vertical leap, an explosive first step, a natural ability to put the ball in the basket -- coupled with Durant's presence as a knockdown shooter and all-around scorer have combined to make the three-category accumulation possible. His 22.4 points, 8.5 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game this season are at video game status.

Three years in, Westbrook stands as a textbook example of how things can go right, and go right quickly, for a young floor general to whom much responsibility is given. He has learned to deal with issues with turnovers and helped turn Durant into the game's single best scorer, he's continued to hit the boards night in and night out and he's improved his vision and decision-making.

Extrapolating Westbrook's statistical progress and accounting for his team's ability to make the post-season and the fact that he earned his first trip to the All-Star Game this season at the age of 22, the sky is quite literally the limit. There's no other way to put this: he's on the Hall of Fame track.
Posted on: December 20, 2010 6:06 pm

Gilbert Arenas will wear No.1 for Penny Hardaway

Gilbert Arenas elects to wear No.1 jersey in honor of Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway. There are some similarities there.
Posted by Matt Moore

Gilbert Arenas has decided to wear No. 1 in Orlando and will debut his new jersey tonight against the Atlanta Hawks. The reason this is notable? Arenas says it's in honor of Penny Hardaway.

Hardaway, arguably the second biggest star in Magic history behind Shaquille O'Neal, played six season for Orlando. He was not only a basketball phenom in his early years, but a cultural one as well, starring in the infamous "Lil' Penny" commercials. A reminder:

Ah, the nineties. When men were Arsenio Hall and women were Annie Lennox. Also, it's hard to believe now that KG and the wee Penny would be friends unless Lil' Penny was screaming obsenities every forty seconds and carving off his own fingers to get psyched up.

Arenas has always wanted to be with the Magic. He actually wanted the Magic to draft him. As he told Magic.com in an introductory interview Monday:

QUESTION: I remember talking with you at the pre-draft camp in 2001 and you really wanted the Magic to draft you, right?

GILBERT ARENAS: "It was because I was a Penny Hardaway fan. It was funny when I played in Los Angeles all of my friends would say, `I hope you get traded to Orlando, your favorite team or some other team. It was funny because as soon as I got traded I thought, ``You’re there! Now pick No. 1. Yeah, that’s No. 1 is what I’m going to wear for Penny Hardaway."
via MAGIC: Denton Chats With Arenas .

So Gil's pretty excited to be with the Magic, and it all gets back to a player who had a sterling eraly career, then suffered injuries and was never the same.

The irony, it is dripping off the keyboard and into my lap.
Posted on: November 21, 2010 2:41 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:00 pm

Penny Hardaway still eyes NBA return

Former NBA all star Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway wants to return to the NBA. Posted by Ben Golliverpenny-hardaway Anfernee Hardaway, better known as "Penny," was so flipping amazing at basketball that there's no snark allowed in any posts about him.  Penny earned that distinction after being the most electric point guard since Magic Johnson, after bringing the phrase "Tyra Banks, Fool!" into America's living room and after enduring cruel injuries that robbed him of a potential Hall of Fame career. With that disclaimer, Hardaway is now 39 years old, has been out of the league since 2006, and seriously believes he should get another shot at cracking an NBA roster. Boston.com has the relevant quotes in an excellent profile.
“I still love the game and I feel like I deserve that chance, but at 39, everybody’s looking at the age,’’ he said. “They’re not looking at it as if I can still play.
“I don’t have a lot of miles on my body because my knee was hurt for so long. But I feel like I can play a minimal role on anybody’s team and help out. Role players now are playing 10-12 minutes a night. That’s simple, man.
“My knowledge, my playmaking ability, I can still knock down an open shot. I watch the game and still see things out there I can do to help teams, but who knows if that will ever happen? I doubt it, but I’ll be ready if the situation did occur.’’
The interview also includes news that Hardaway sits courtside at Memphis Grizzlies games, marinating on his past. Boy, that's depressing. Like I said earlier, no snark allowed here, so let's just use this as a good opportunity to revisit a classic Nike commercial starring Penny in slow motion, courtesy of YouTube user DaniBoxx. Spectacular. "What could have been." The four words that will haunt Hardaway for the rest of his life. 
Posted on: November 21, 2010 2:41 pm
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