>> Wednesday, May 20, 2009
What a nailbiter this game turned out to be. At first, it seemed as if Lebron and company were going to run away with this game much like they have every other game in Cleveland this year. Instead, Orlando rallied on the back of Dwight Howard, or was it Rashard Lewis? I think it was the spirit of one Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway that guided the Magic to a key playoff victory tonight. That has no truth in it whatsoever, but I wanted to write about how Penny was one of the most underrated players of all time and I thought this was a good lead in.
Lets not forget who put the Orlando Magic on the map. It wasn't Shaquille O'neal, it was the flashy 2nd year point gaurd that lead this team to the 1995 finals birth. People always hate on Penny being hurt his whole career, he whined, got his coaches fired, blah, blah. The truth of the matter is people often forget how far Penny came in such a short time in the NBA.
He was a first team All NBA player by his second year in the league. He was the first guard that warranted legit comparisons to Magic Johnson. He was a 6'7 true silky smooth point gaurd that could score, pass, and rebound with anyone else in the league at that time. How else can you explain the reason that Nick "I shot a solid 3% from the free throw line" Anderson or Dennis Scott (Who might be the most unathletic player ever in NBA history not named Brian Scalabrine) stayed productive in the league all those years? One answer, Penny Hardaway.
Does anyone remember that 1997 series with the Miami Heat when Penny plus a team full of scrubs (e.g., David Vaughn, Rony Seikley,etc.) took the series to 5 games after being down 2 to 1? How did this happen? It happened because Penny decided to showcase his abilities by averaging 42 points a game. Then came the microfacture surgeries on the knee and left us with the Penny that we saw in Phoenix, New York, and Miami last year.
If not for these numerous microfacture surgeries, Penny would have ended up being a hall of famer. I'll go a step further, if Penny had not got injured so early in his career he would have went down as one of the top 5 NBA players of all time. Maybe I am being a bit biased, but who cares? It is partially my blog. If you need a reminder of how good Penny really was, take a look at the video below.