If you are a basketball fan in the 90s, then you must know about the awesomeness of Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway.
The dude is said to be the second coming of Magic Johnson and long before Shaq-Kobe, it was Shaq-Penny. In some ways, it felt like their partnership is merely a marketing ploy since prior to Orlando, Shaquille O’Neal had him as a teammate in his kind of biopic Blue Chips.
Just imagine Shaquille O’Neal playing with Chris Webber – the original Orlando choice before they traded him for Hardaway.
Anyway, when I finally had a chance to collect his basketball cards, I scoured Courtside to have all the 90s cards I saw but never got the chance to collect. Again, collecting Penny Hardaway is one of the centerpieces of my basketball card collection but when I was in high school, I tried to veer away from buying expensive things.
I collect weenies… and not the absurd, kinky, and gross kind.
Hardaway was popular back then. His jersey screams cool. His soul patch goatee is the NBA’s version of Rachel Green’s hairstyle. And his rubber shoes…
HIS AWESOME RUBBER SHOES…
Up to this day, Hardaway’s basketball shoes ranks high on the awesome sneaker list.
I still remember the Magic starting five of Shaq, Penny, Horace Grant, Nick Anderson, and Dennis Scott. If there was a team that could eliminate either the Chicago Bulls or the Boston Celtics from playoff contention, it was them.
Sadly, Nick Anderson’s free throws and the emergence of the Houston Rockets ruined what could have been his sole championship ring.
Also, it sucks that his career would go down that crappy path because of injuries.
When Shaq left for LA, Hardaway was seen as the shining light in Orlando. When multiple knee issues grounded Penny, Orlando sent him to Phoenix and it was kind of awesome when he got paired up with Jason Kidd.
But yeah, injuries.
After an injury-plagued stint with the Suns, he was sent to New York in another injury-plagued tenure.
Hardaway would finish his career with Shaq in Miami… after missing a season and getting waived by Orlando because the homecoming is not going to happen with his insane 15.8-dollar million price tag.
It sucks that Penny did not have a Hall of Fame career his body of work initially deserved. I mentioned all his pop culture references like his jerseys, sneakers, and 90s awesomeness because if his career can’t give him a HOF induction… maybe he could enter as a contributor.
No question, Penny Hardaway is awesome. If you caught Penny throwing crisp dimes to an open Shaq or an open Nick Anderson and unleashing awesome jams, then you’re lucky.
And this is why I bought his Funko.