Hardaway Jr. switches sides in Heat-Knicks rivalry
GREENBURGH, N.Y. (AP)
Tim Hardaway Jr. was sitting across from the Miami bench to watch one of the toughest blows in Heat history.
Allan Houston's go-ahead shot with 0.8 seconds left in the deciding Game 5 of a 1999 first-round series is one of the lasting highlights of the fierce playoff rivalry the New York Knicks had with the Heat in the late 1990s. Hardaway's father starred for Miami, works for the Heat now, and on Friday both were reminded again of that shot.
A picture of it hangs in the younger Hardaway's new basketball home. The Knicks took him with the No. 24 pick in the NBA draft.
''It's very ironic,'' his father said at the Knicks' practice facility. ''The years that I played and the rivalry that we had, now it's coming full circle. My son is going to play for the Knicks. I'm very happy for him. It's not about me, it's about him, and it's about him being happy now and I'm happy for him.''
The elder Hardaway was with the Heat when they played the Knicks in four straight postseasons from 1997-00. His name hangs from the rafters in Miami, and he works for the team as a community liaison and scout.
Wearing a blue dress shirt that matched the Knicks' colors, his son seemed comfortable now on the other side.
''It's ironic but not awkward at all,'' Hardaway Jr. said. ''He's happy for me whatever team I went to and that's what a father should do. He should be happy for his son, whatever team it is, whether it's a rivalry or not. So it's a great opportunity.''
Hardaway played three seasons for Michigan, helping the Wolverines reach last season's national championship game, where they lost to Louisville. The 6-foot-6 guard averaged 14.3 points for his career.
The family was in a Miami restaurant Thursday to watch the draft, and a pick that left his father with a decision to make.
''When they play against us, I don't know what I'm going to do,'' the elder Hardaway said. ''That question has been asked many, many, many times, and I don't know.''
Looking at his son as an evaluator, Hardaway saw a player who could have done more on the court but resisted the temptation, knowing it wasn't the best thing for a young Michigan team that had national player of the year Trey Burke.
''As a scout, I felt that he really wasn't able to show his full talent because he was, I'd say, the veteran of the team, the leader of the team,'' Hardaway said. ''He had to make sure that everybody else do their job. They had three freshmen and a sophomore on the team that you were starting with, or playing with for 40 minutes, and he had to make sure that everybody does their job and does it well, and it just hampered his game a little bit.
''I think if he would have been out there and would have been selfish and started getting the ball and doing his thing, they wouldn't have made it to the championship game.''
Hardaway Jr. said he felt a good vibe from Knicks coaches when he worked out here and could have a chance to be a contributor as a rookie. The Knicks have uncertainty in the backcourt with Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith and Pablo Prigioni both headed for free agency, and with Jason Kidd having retired and become the Brooklyn Nets coach.
The newcomer said he's looking forward to being part of a team that has finally become a playoff contender again for the first time since his father was still a player.
''He just told me to go out there and have fun,'' Hardaway Jr. said. ''You go out there and have fun, everything else will take care of itself. Don't try to overdo things that you can't do. Don't get out of your comfort zone and don't let nobody get you out of your comfort zone.''