Penny Hardaway – your favorite player’s favorite player!
If your favorite player is in their late 20s or early to mid 30s there’s a good chance that Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway was one of their favorite players growing up: Tracy McGrady? Yes. LeBron James? Yep.
I was lucky enough to be living in the Orlando area when Penny came into the league. This allowed me to acquire hundreds of hours of Penny footage on VHS tapes: Games, half-time reports, news at 11 local footage. I was like a hunter in a tree but with a VCR remote ready to record over my favorite 90’s shows (usually Saved By The Bell except for the ones that had Kelly in a swimsuit) to catch the latest Penny pass that would be viral and trending worthy today.
Then tragedy struck in O-Town. Shaq divorced the Magic and fans had to choose between Shaq Daddy or Penny and since I’ve been a Laker fan for life and a Shaq fan before a Penny one, I had to pack my bags and go with the Big Fella and just shake my head watching Felton Spencer try to fill his shoes back home. Things then got worse for Penny as injuries became frequent as did beef with teammates, coaches and the media. He quickly went from being the 2nd most marketable player in the league to the 2nd best Hardaway in Florida.
In 1998, I started a light joke but offensive website called Penny aka P—y and actually received death threats on a daily basis by oversensitive Penny stans that left messages in my animated mailbox gif at the bottom of the anti-Penny site. But as Penny faded away, so did my negative feelings. So I started ripping a bunch of those VHS tapes and putting the clips on better sites of mine and forums on the web. Before YouTube blew up, there was a good chance if you saw any rare Penny highlights on the web it came out of my personal collection. I put out Penny mixes. Penny and the 90’s Magic Mixes. Remixes of Penny mixes composed of the mentioned mixes. My love for Penny was back and stronger than ever.
A couple years later, I was asked to do a T-Shirt design for a company called Hoop Culture. The shirt ended up on the backs of a lot of kids and streetball players, but the most rewarding moment for me is when I saw a pic of my 90’s idol posing with that shirt. It made me forget that I did the shirt for pennys (no pun intended).
Year have gone by since that day, but every July 18th, I look forward to telling the same stories and reminding anybody willing to listen, that Penny was not only one of my favorite players but most likely your favorite player’s favorite player too.
You will probably watch the following YouTube videos, look up his not so amazing stats and accomplishments and try to justify why people like me that saw him play in his prime thought so highly of him. All I can really say is he is one of the true rare cases where you just had to see it to believe it.
So enjoy a few clips that I proudly recorded and watched over and over again until I wore out my VCR heads.
UPDATE: On April 1st of 2016, I got to interview Penny Hardaway and it ended with him thanking me for “my knowledge of the game.” Yeah, I’ll be bragging about that moment for a very long time. Here’s him talking about the best moments between him and Michael Jordan during that interview.