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Is Penny Hardaway in the Hall of Fame?

Penny Hardaway has been known as one of the most talented players to ever come into the NBA. The mark that he was able to make with the Orlando Magic is something that the team will remember for the rest of their franchise history. Because of how great he was on the court; it raises an interesting question. Is Penny Hardaway in the Hall of Fame?

Is Penny Hardaway in the Hall of Fame?

The answer to this question is surprisingly no. There is no doubt that the numbers he put up were Hall of Fame worthy. Plus, he was one of the most polarizing players to ever grace the court. However, some players just don’t get into the Hall of Fame for years after their retirement. Paul Pierce just recently made his way in and so did Allen Iverson. Penny Hardaway is heavily expected to make it into the Hall of Fame at some point, but as of 2022 he hasn’t been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Luckily, he has been enshrined in the Orlando Magic franchise Hall of Fame. This is still a wonderful honor for him to have and he received the honor for good reason. Just as I mentioned earlier, his stats and impact on the game were incredible.

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Orlando Magic

First things first, his time with the Magic is the most notable. The franchise inducted him into their Hall of Fame around 2017, making him just the fifth player to ever be inducted into it. The oversized point guard was incredible on both ends of the court with the Magic. He averaged 19 points, 6.3 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.95 steals per game. You can also see how much he impacted winning with the organization because he spent just six years with the organization and still was able to make their Hall of Fame. If you weren’t already impressed by that stat, Hardaway actually missed all but 19 games during the 1997-98 season due to various knee injuries. They were incredibly severe as well, as he needed five surgeries by the time this one season came full circle. By the time he transitioned over to another team, he was third in franchise history with total steals at 718 and fourth in total assists at 2,343. Unfortunately, he wasn’t ever able to win an NBA Championship with the team alongside Shaquille O’Neal.  The two were a fun to watch duo that just dominated everybody in their paths. They even made it into the NBA Finals. However, they came up just short in their quest to win it all. 

Phoenix Suns

The season after his devastating knee injury saw him return and play in every regular season game. The Phoenix Suns point guard at the time, Jason Kidd, was desperately pleading with the team to trade for Penny Hardaway because he wanted to play alongside him. Eventually, trade talks were able to work out for both sides and Hardaway went to Phoenix. Both of these players battled injuries throughout that first season but the Suns were 53-29. Hardaway averaged 16.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.6 steals as well. He kept that strong play up throughout the postseason, averaging 20.3 points, 5.7 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game in nine matchups. They were able to take care of the San Antonio Spurs in the first round but he eventually lost to his former teammate Shaq and the Los Angeles Lakers. The next couple of years saw Hardaway get riddled with injuries and fall into a bench role with the organization. Phoenix had a boat load of young talent that they had to utilize so Hardaway took the time to mentor some of the younger guys on the roster while coming off the bench. There were times he would get moved up to the starting lineup but it wasn’t all that often. In that final year with the Suns, he put up 8.7 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. That was when the organization flipped him to the New York Knicks.

New York Knicks

Surprisingly, Hardaway saw himself turn his career around a bit at this time. He helped the Knicks make the NBA Playoffs by averaging 9.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists and one steal per game. He participated in 76 regular season games and even led the team in scoring throughout multiple playoff games. However, the Knicks were dismantled in the first round of the playoffs and lost early on. Still though, he proved that he could still impact the game even when he was clearly nearing the end of his career. He missed the majority of the next season but had strong performances that gave a glimpse of his younger self. His final year with the Knicks was the end of his run with them. He played just four games with them while trying to rehab two bad knees. The Knicks traded him back to his original team, the Orlando Magic, but they waived him a few days later. He then spent one more season with the Miami Heat alongside Shaq and put up 3.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game. That would be his final year in the league.

Accomplishments

Hardaway definitely earned accolades in the league despite so many injuries harassing him throughout his playing days. When he decided to hang it up, Hardaway was a four-time NBA All-Star and a two-time All-NBA First Team member. He also won a gold medal with Team USA during the 1996 Olympics. Again, these don’t sound like fantastic stats, especially if you consider winning a championship to be vital to making it into the Hall of Fame. However, you have to consider the impact he had with the Magic. They were consistently a winning team when he showed up. The same thing applied to the New York Knicks and the Phoenix Suns regardless of the role he had on the team. This gets ten times more impressive considering the obstacles he faced along the way. At some point, Hardaway deserves to get memorialized in the Hall of Fame for good.