May 14, 2013, 8:23 pm
Penny Hardaway grew up on the tough streets in Memphis Tennessee and was one of the most sought after high school recruits we have ever seen. After being named the Parade Magazine High School Player of the year, Hardaway chose to stay close to home and play college basketball at the University of Memphis.
After starring at Memphis, he went on to become an NBA All Star four times in his first six seasons in the league before knee injuries derailed his very promising career. Now, 20 years later he is back in his hometown of Memphis coaching a local middle school basketball team and mentoring many of the area youth. He joined Chad on Flight 750 Tuesday to talk about his journey through the NBA and now back to his hometown.
Hardaway talked to us about the day he found out Shaq was leaving the Magic for the Lakers.
“I found out about Shaq going to L.A. – We were in the Olympics in 1996 in Atlanta. We had this huge press conference and the first question to me was ‘How does it feel to have lost Shaq to the Lakers?’…I thought it was a joke. Because I knew he was being courted by the Lakers but he didn’t tell me that he had signed and I hadn’t heard anything from our management and that was my first time hearing about it. So it was definitely one of those terrible moments for me understanding that we had just lost Shaq.”
Hardaway also talked about the criticism Derrick Rose currently faces for not going out and playing even though he has been medically cleared to do so.
“I say he needs to sit out until he’s ready. I know the fans get upset because players make millions of dollars but you want him to be there for the long run.”
And finally, being a guy who knows what it’s like to have injuries derail a career, he spoke about what can happen if players come back too early from injury or decide that they have to play through injury.
“In 2000-2001, I tore my meniscus in the very first game against the Spurs and I kept playing and we ended up in the playoffs…Tim Duncan had the meniscus tear – Sat out – Popovich sat him out and said “Hey you’re not playing.” And he’s still playing right now and playing well, and I’m out of the league because I tried to play through injury. So when you try to play through injury, bad things happen to you.”
Take a listen to the interview and be sure to look for Hardaway’s new book where he details the team he coached to back-to-back state championships and the positive effect it has had on one of the roughest neighborhoods in one of the roughest cities in America.