The newest Knick is quick to point out it’s ironic not awkward.
On Friday morning, New York’s 2013 No. 24 overall pick, Tim Hardaway Jr. was guided through a tour of MSG Training Center on the day of his official press conference next to a significant figure in the contentious Knicks-Heat 90s rivalry.
Tim Hardaway Sr. walked stride by stride with his son and tour guide Allan Houston prior to meeting the New York media. Yes, Houston, the same man that took center stage in one of the most thrilling moments between the two teams. In 1999, Houston split two defenders (Dan Majerle and Hardaway Sr.) before launching a running one-handed floater that bounced off front rim, hit the backboard, and dropped through the bucket to launch the Knicks into the second round.
Jokes about the shot were heard during the tour as the Hardaways and Houston chuckled while the memories of the rivalry are now just water under the bridge for the two former players.
The Knicks new wing man was just seven years old when Houston ripped out the hearts of the Heat fans at Miami Arena.
“I was sitting across the bench from the Miami Heat and he went down full court I think, shot that floater and hit the front of the rim and back and went in. After that all I see is him running down the court and pumping his fist. That was the only thing I remember – it’s a historical moment,” Hardaway Jr. recalled.
The 21-year old Hardaway Jr. witnessed incredible games and achievements by his point guard father, who is famous for his killer crossover, also known as the “UTEP Two-Step”. His experience was not always a smooth ride through adolescence. Following a five-time NBA All-Star father can present some problems when attempting to carve a unique path.
“It was tough,” a candid Hardaway Jr. acknowledged. “Your father is always trying to get the best out of you and get that inner dog in you, just like they did when they were growing up. But, [we] grew up two different ways. I grew up in Miami, South Beach, limelight. He grew up in Chicago where crime, gangs, all they knew about was basketball, that’ s how they stayed out of trouble. Just growing up in two different areas, that was the difference. “
Throughout his three-year career at the University of Michigan, Hardaway Jr. displayed a different skill set compared to his father. Hardaway Jr. stands about six inches taller than Sr. and he owns a prototypical shooting guard game with an ability to drill deep jumpers, run the floor, and defend on the perimeter. Finding success at the collegiate level and a run to the title game helped Hardaway Jr. establish his own identity and the elder Tim had changed his interaction with his son as well.
“He just stopped trying to compare ourselves and just let me do my thing and he was ready for that and I thank him for that,” Hardaway Jr. explained.
The proud father beamed during his son’s day, a truly momentous occasion for the Hardaway family, “It’s a great feeling. I’m happy for him. The process has been long the past couple of months and glad to see him come to a storied franchise like the Knicks.”
Hardaway Sr. then shared some valuable advice for his son that could translate across all professions.
“Have a lot of fun, it goes quickly. Be confident and play your hardest each and every game but have fun while your out there because that’s what it’s about, enjoying yourself.”
They share the same name but walked extremely different roads to the NBA. It’s now time for Hardaway Jr. to take the next leap where Hardaway Sr. will continue to be his biggest fan…even if that means cheering for the Knicks.