This Monday, our trip down memory lane takes a look at Penny Hardaway – a “would-be” Hall of Famer and one of the more intriguing point guards in recent history.
Now, this isn’t an entire biography on Penny, so it’s not necessary to give a full backdrop of his horrifying injury history.
No, no, instead we’ll check out his ridiculous scoring display in the 1997 postseason v. Miami. In his first year playing without Shaquille O’Neal, Penny got his first taste of life as a bonafide Top DOG.
When he was on the court, returns were similar to the numbers he put up with Shaq a year ago…only problem, he never really got into a rhythm for a breakthrough – playing in just 59 total games.
But by April 29, 1997 it all went out the window. Penny’s Magic faced an 0-2 hole in the the Quarterfinals. From the NBA Finals a couple seasons ago to a first-round sweep.
Penny wasn’t having any of it.
In Game 3, Hardaway set the tone early and eventually erupted for 42 points & 8 boards:
He did it all: scoring in transition, from outside, midrange, in the post – Miami had zero answers.
But after all of that, Orlando still trailed 2-1. So Penny, are you ready for an encore?
ANOTHER 41 points. 83 points in two games! I literally just discovered Penny’s back-to-back-40-pieces-in-the-playoffs this afternoon, which has been accomplished by the likes of Michael Jordan, Tracy McGrady, & Jerry West. Not many people associate Penny with scoring but, like all great players, he could light it up once he got going.
To me, Penny Hardaway is like if Paul George had natural point guard instincts and grew up playing the position. Their size, athleticism, defensive ability & Top DOG mentality are similar.
Though Orlando eventually lost Game 5 in Miami, Penny’s ’97 playoff performance is memorable, as it was his last Magic Moment in Disneyworld.