Anfernee Deon “Penny” Hardaway (born July 18, 1971) is a retired American professional basketball player who played in the National Basketball Association (NBA), specializing as an unconventionally tall point guard. Hardaway’s most productive years came in his days as a member of the Orlando Magic as well as the early portion of his stint with the Phoenix Suns. Hardaway often was compared to Magic Johnson during his tenure because both had incredible size and quickness at the point guard position. Hardaway was an All-NBA player early in his career, but was plagued by constant injuries which gradually reduced his effectiveness. He played for the New York Knicks from 2004 to 2006 and last played for the Miami Heat, who released him December 12, 2007.
Hardaway was selected by the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the 1993 NBA draft (third pick overall), but was traded along with three future first-round picks to the Orlando Magic for the rights to first overall pick Chris Webber. The Magic’s intent was to draft Webber and pair him with Shaquille O’Neal until Hardaway – whose desire was to play alongside O’Neal – requested a second workout to show why he should be their pick. Two days before the draft, Hardaway participated in a pick-up basketball game with several Magic players and local talent and impressed the organization enough to make the draft day trade.
In 2011, Hardaway took over for his friend, Desmond Merriweather who is fighting colon cancer, as a coach for middle schoolers of his alma mater Lester Middle School. With a goal to have each of his players graduate from college, Hardaway instituted a mandatory tutorial program. He coached the Lester Lions to the West Tennessee State title 58-57, finishing 28-3 for the season. The same year saw him announce plans for a permanent $20 million multi-sports facility named FastBreak Courts Sportsplex in Cordova. The sporting complex would support volleyball, cheerleading and wrestling, house seven basketball courts, a 2,000-seat arena, rehabilitation clinic and classrooms, and is expected boost the Memphis-area economy by generating over $14.5 million in annual visitor spending and directly support 236 local jobs.
In 2012, Hardaway was announced to be part of an ownership group, which includes Peyton Manning and Justin Timberlake, that was to purchase a minority stake in the Memphis Grizzlies.
Career highlights and awards
4× NBA All-Star (1995–1998)
2× All-NBA First Team (1995–1996)
All-NBA Third Team (1997)
NBA All-Rookie First Team (1994)
NBA Rookie Challenge MVP (1994)
Consensus first-team All-American (1993)
2× Great Midwest Player of the Year (1992–1993)
No. 25 retired by the University of Memphis