By Brian Taylor
Back in the day on Sega Genesis, one of my favorite games was “Bulls vs. Lakers and the NBA Playoffs”. It wasn’t as detailed as today’s NBA Live franchise, but was a little more fun, because all the All-Stars had their own signature moves. Jordan had his “Air Reverse”, Larry had his “Fadeaway Three”, and who could forget Tom Chambers’ “Triple Pump Dunk from the Three Point Line” (which oddly enough, I never saw him do in any real highlights). There was another guy on there most people slept on, and that was Tim Hardaway and his “UTEP-2 Step” crossover dribble, which was automatic and always resulted in two points.
Coming out of UTEP in the 1989 Draft, (behind previous Hey! Honorees, Ellison and Anderson), Timothy Duane Hardaway would become an NBA Star seemingly overnight. With rookie year averages of 14 points and 8 assists per game, it would be a matter of time before Tim would see the floor in an All Star game. Running alongside an in-his-prime Chris Mullin and young scoring machine Mitch Richmond at Golden State, Hardaway flourished, and provided plenty of NBA highlight material. Standing at 6 feet, (actually closer to about 5’10”), the Chi-town native’s crossover was absolutely deadly, and it was a predecessor to the one brought into modern basketball by Allen Iverson. Hardaway’s crossover was more of a head and shoulder fake, than Iverson’s crossover, which is more of a ball fake. When he was traded to Miami for Kevin Willis, his game opened up and he hit his prime, going all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals with Zo’ and Pat Riley, where he would eventually become another victim of MJ’s dynasty. One would often see him slashing into the lane and dumping off behind the back passes to Alonzo Mourning or P.J. Brown for dunks. He was also a deadly shooter, with a shot that had damn near no arc on it. Tim even had a run on the U.S. Olympic squad in 2000, the Vince Carter/Frederic Weis edition that won a gold medal.
Tim Hardaway didn’t really have the “E! True Hollywood” downward spiral that most “Hey!” guys have. In fact, he still plays in the ABA for the Florida PitBulls. But in my opinion Tim was a victim of the “Championship Window”. It seems whenever a team goes far into the playoffs in consecutive seasons, the “experts” talk about that team’s “window” for a title (i.e. how many cracks they have left until they start the rebuilding process). Miami was easily number two, if not the best team in the East every year in the late 90’s, if it weren’t for number 23 in Chicago, they’s probably have a ring or two. The problem was, either the Bulls or the Knicks kept beating Tim and the Heat in the playoffs, and the “championship window” shrank until the team was, in GM terms “blown up”. Tim was shipped to Dallas where he got some good playing time, but a guy named Nash replaced him. He was then sent to the lowly Denver Nuggets, where in a game against Orlando, he lost his cool and threw a television onto the floor of Orlando Arena before getting tossed. The next year, he would sign with Indiana and do well in ten games before bowing out of the NBA. People usually forget his little riff with Allen Iverson over his crossover technique, saying that A.I.’s crossover was a carry (palming the ball) and that his was “the real deal”.
Today, Tim is in shape and he recently played in the ABA’s 2006 All-Star game, with guys like Chris Carawell and Lawrence Moten. He also coaches his son’s AAU squad, that’s been balling well as of late. You can see Tim in his “Run TMC” days at Golden State here.