Friday 31st October 2014,
The Hoop Doctors

The Nextology of Michael Jordan: Part III – Anfernee ‘Penny’ Hardaway

Anklesnap February 17, 2009 Dr. Anklesnap, Nextology of MJ 34 Comments

The Hoop Doctors love Michael Jordan. That’s got to be pretty obvious to everyone by now. So in honor of Michael, and to discourage the media from pretending to be clairvoyant in the future when it comes to comparing young ballers to the greatest to ever play, every week I will be shining a little light on each of the media’s shortcomings when it has come to these ridiculous and presumptuous predictions.

These posts are not intended to disrespect any of the players compared to Jordan in any way. They all had excellent careers and were or are tremendous basketball players. It is not your fault someone with very little knowledge of the game or even the skill to play this game decided to call you the “Next Jordan”. Part III to my series called “The Nextology of Michael Jordan” will be looking at Anfernee ‘Penny’ Hardaway:

But to take a good look at how different their careers were, I think you always have to start off by taking a birds eye view of the comparison by checking out their individual career stats. Here is the statistical comparison below in this chart:

A.H. Stats: 15.2 ppg 4.5 rpg 5.0 apg 1.6 spg 0.4 bpg .458 FG% .316 3P% .774 FT%
M.J. Stats: 30.1 ppg 6.2 rpg 5.3 apg 2.4 spg 0.8 bpg .497 FG% .327 3P% .835 FT%

By a look at the gross statistical differential between Michael Jordan and Anfernee Hardaway’s careers you would assume Hardaway was the least like Michael Jordan of all the player’s compared to the great one. But you couldn’t be more wrong. Before Hardaway’s career was plagued by injuries, he was arguably one of the closest players to be compared to Michael Jordan. Although not quite as accomplished of a scorer at the time, in Anfernee’s second and third season in the NBA he was averaging over 20 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals per game. He did all of this while playing second fiddle to Shaquille O’Neal on the offensive end. Penny was shooting over 50% from the field during those years, and theoretically could have been a much more prolific scorer had he been the first option offensively for the Magic instead of Shaquille O’Neal. You can’t blame Magic management though for this choice, as Shaq was a greater than 60% shooter from the field and the second most dominant big man in the game at the time.

Anfernee (who I will refer to by his nickname ‘Penny’) in his second year in the league went head to head with Michael Jordan and won. Sure he had a little help from a well known guy by the name of Shaquille O’Neal, but still he led his team the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals in 1995 and had to get by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the process. At the time people starting calling Penny “The Next Jordan” because he was a slashing guard of about the same height at 6’7″ (Jordan 6’6″) who could play the point guard, shooting guard, or small forward positions for the Magic. Just like with Jordan’s Bulls, most of Orlando’s plays used to run through Penny. Hardaway also had a great mid-range, back to the basket game with a great turnaround jumper. Penny most likely patterned his game in that regard after Jordan, who loved to back down smaller defenders into an area where he could abuse them with pump fakes, footwork, and a lethal jumper.

But after all was said and done however, that Penny Hardaway/Orlando Magic victory over the Jordan Bulls in 1995 would have a black mark next to it since it was the year MJ came back more than half way through the season breaking his first retirement. Analysts would eventually say that Jordan was not yet in game shape having been playing baseball instead of basketball during his hiatus. That line of thinking was ultimately cemented as fact when Jordan and the Bulls went on to win 3 more NBA titles in the following years from 1996-1998.

Four knee surgeries later for Anfernee Hardaway, and he was stripped of his explosiveness and ended up finishing out his career playing spot minutes for both the Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks. One of the most magical things about Michael Jordan was not only his consistent and maintained greatness throughout his career, but his ability to stay healthy and dominant. Maybe it was luck, maybe it was conditioning, but regardless of why, Jordan was able to sustain his brilliance. There is probably more ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’s’ following Penny Hardaway’s career than almost anyone else, but at the end of the day he was nowhere near the player Michael Jordan was, and definitely didn’t live up to the tag of “The Next Jordan”.

Tell us your thoughts below on Penny Hardaway being once called ‘The Next Jordan’…..Also stay tuned next week for Part IV in the “Nextology of Michael Jordan” series by Dr. Anklesnap.

Links to Other ‘Nextology’ Posts:



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  • http://www.twitter.com/sportaphile Chuck

    I always thought the media hailed Penny Hardaway as “The Next Magic Johnson”, not the next jordan… Anfernee had the whole “big guard” thing going on and had a 1-2 combination with a big center (like magic did).

    His game was never that similar to MJ’s in my opinion.

  • http://thehoopdoctors.com/ Dr. Anklesnap

    Completely agree with you chuck! He was more of a Magic type, since he was an oversized guard playing the point for the Magic in those years. Didn’t stop the media from saying “Next Jordan”.

    Sometimes I think the media would say “Next Jordan” just to refer to a player as being the next big thing. They probably didn’t always mean it to say they had similar styles of playing.

  • Patrick A.

    why arent u comparing him to lebron?
    lebron is more like mj than anyone, with his insane ability to take over a game this early in his career(remember the pistons semifinal game 6 a few years back), he even wheres the same number and does everything mj ever did, position wise

  • Tim

    Penny, no. Grant Hill, no. Jerry, no.

    LeBron – we’ll see, but looks good.

    Kobe – closest so far. Period.

    MJ still the best.

    • whocares

      lebron plays more like penny then mj as he should

  • http://ibetonstuff.wordpress.com ibetonstuff

    Kobe is the closest and has the best chance to take over the top spot, if anyone ever can from Jordan. LeBron fails in the clutch, otherwise I would say that he has a chance as well.

  • http://www.theinvestorsjournal.com The Investor’s Journal

    I’m really looking forward to your comparisons of Wade and Jordan. As a Miami native, long-time Heat supporter, and Wade fan, I’ve never really seen the similarities between Wade and Jordan (other than the desire to have the ball at crunch time).

    Either way, great article and great topic to cover. It’s a shame about Penny, because even if he was never going to be the next MJ, he was definitely a special player who was robbed of his best years because of injuries.

  • Jay.Ay. Hardaway

    I am still one of the biggest Penny Hardaway fans out there and even though he isn’t playing anymore, I still have love for him. Lets get one thing straight, there will never be another Michael Jordan, just like Babe Ruth and Muhammad Ali. Michael Jordan has reached only very very few athletes has ever reach and that is GOD status. Kobe, Lebron it doesn’t matter, none of them will ever reach that status.

    As for my man Penny, my god what a gift from the basketball gods. He was the first official street basketball player to make it in the NBA. If he would of stayed healthy, he wouldn’t be Michael Jordan, but he would be a Hall of Famer. He had incredible ball handling skills, and court vision like a hawk. He had a great mid-range shot and a decent three pointer. He played great defense and was just an explosive player. I remember the first game back Shaq played against the Magics when he was with the Lakers and Penny had to go against the two headed beast of Shaq and Kobe and all by himself dominated the game. The Magics lost it at the end but Penny played one of the most unforgettable games I’ve ever seen.

    Even though Penny will never get the respect that he deserves, he is still loved by many fans throughout the world, and if you don’t believe me, go to ebay and check up his new Nike Air Max 1/2 Cent, they are going for $400 dollars and up. The only other guy I know that can command that much for a basketball shoe is the greatest ever.

  • John Thomas

    Jordan is WAY too full of himself and very overrated!

    RT

    • Swagkingtha3rd

      Nigga you sound gay AF!

  • DJH

    Yeah this article is retarded..Penny was billed as the next Magic Johnson–with a better jumpshot…don’t waste your time reading this

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  • http://4.madbe.net daniel

    Kobe is the closest and has the best chance to take over the top spot, if anyone ever can from Jordan. LeBron fails in the clutch, otherwise I would say that he has a chance as well..

  • Aaron

    I agree that Penny was considered a Magic Johnson more than an Michael Jordan. But if I recall its when he moved to shooting guard later in the 90s (pre injuries) that he started to draw comparisons to Jordan.

  • http://3.madbe.net Sebasta

    Yeah this article is retarded..Penny was billed as the next Magic Johnson–with a better jumpshot…don’t waste your time reading this

  • http://0xfiles.com zadanu

    I agree that Penny was considered a Magic Johnson more than an Michael Jordan. But if I recall its when he moved to shooting guard later in the 90s (pre injuries) that he started to draw comparisons to Jordan..

  • http://www.uniacid.com Steven

    I am also a fellow Floridian, I would like to see some comparisons with D Wade and MJ since he has been bringing it to a new level ever since the Olympic games where he and the USA Team just dominated on both ends of the game which brought back memories of the Dream Team.

    Anyways Penny was by far one of the most talented players of his time and unfortunately for the world he didn’t get to show off all that he could have because of his injuries, I really wish we could have….

  • kdubya

    ibetonstuff on February 17th, 2009 6:46 pm “Kobe is the closest and has the best chance to take over the top spot, if anyone ever can from Jordan. LeBron fails in the clutch, otherwise I would say that he has a chance as well”

    Not exactly sure where the whole ‘Kobe/clutch’ thing got it’s genesis…I would like the list of big games that Kobe has won for the Lakers in the final seconds. That was always Horry, Fisher, or Fox. I bet if you compared the arch of LeBron’s first five seasons with that of MJ’s(as far as their individual stats and the progress of their teams), they would be nearly identical. Regardless, I can’t wait to see the Nextology’s of both of those players.

  • bullet

    Penny is the best all around basketball player ever. No doubt about it!

  • RUTHERFORD

    No one will ever be as good as the great MJ

    Not Even: Kobe, Lebron, Jerry, Wade, McGrady or even Carter

  • bigTEXoil

    please refresh your memory and rewind. Penny did admire MJ but Penny grew up idealizing the original MJ = Magic Johnson like the rest of us who were born before the 80′s. Word on the street was that he was the next Magic Johnson. Check out the NBA draft footage comparing his playing style, court vision and positions to Johnson’s career. MJ made the comment that Penny was the next generation, and he was during the height of his career, he was a beast still when he arrived in Phoenix, now the NBA has moved on to another new hype. Some people are just 2 young 2 remember.

  • Tracey Dickerson

    I think alot of folk who don’t understand your comparison to MJ and keep bringing up these new young guys, were not around and didn’t have the privilege to watch Penny in his prime. He was so amazing it’s indescribable; but thanks for trying in your piece. Maybe reviewing this link will help these folks who don’t know who the real Penny was! He was the best! I miss him so much! The game truly is not the same without he and MJ.

    Enjoy!
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/489566/penny_hardaway_orlando/penny_hardaway_orlando/

  • maj

    When Pippen met Hardaway after the game, it was said that Pippen stated,” Hardaway was the hardest player he ever had to guard!”

  • iDWiget

    “I remember the first game back Shaq played against the Magics when he was with the Lakers and Penny had to go against the two headed beast of Shaq and Kobe and all by himself dominated the game. The Magics lost it at the end but Penny played one of the most unforgettable games I’ve ever see”

    I remember this game! It was beautiful game! I was crying on the end of this game =/

  • Crewzn1

    Good to see true fans actually remember how great Penny was. It’s terrible how the media & powers-that-be-machine only looks at stats w/o looking at true talent. If it was up to me Penny would go to the H.O.F. Hell Bill Walton is in. I remember him being compared to Magic, but I always thought Penny was carving his own niche to which McGrady and now Lebron follow. Kidd minus the scoring played the closest to Magic – not a great shooter, but still scores, can pass & rebound.

  • USAFK-9handler

    You make it sound like Penny was trying to BE is greatness. Penny Hardaway modeled his game after Magic…NOT MJ!!!! Also Penny never once compared himself to his “Airness” and he never had to, the way he played before his injuries was enough for people to see that he did his own thing. Jordan is G.O.A.T. hands down but if you’re going to reference a player who brought soo many people to become NBA fans then AT LEAST try to have your shit straight. BTW when the MEDIA decides to declare someone the next M.J. it basically shows how ignorant people are to basketball.

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  • Dario

    Penny, was in fact the most similar player to Jordan I’ve seen so far.
    Because of is all round playing and of is explosiveness and elegance.
    The aesthetic’s of the game is defining of a player, because is a direct result of the physical, technical and mental skills.
    They both shared the same feline presence on the court, the same perfection on the execution, I mean just look at Penny’s jump shot, and ball handling just constant perfect execution,much like MJ. He was also super explosive and unpredictable like MJ but I believe that MJ was even stronger than Penny.
    Both would impact all the aspects of the game (points, assists, steals, rebounds, blocks, U name it) because they’re built similarly and they’re body and mind set allowed them to do so, in the very same way.
    I remember seeing Penny in a college game and I was just amazed at how much he looked like MJ.
    I am really sorry that he suffered so much with injuries as he was an amazing player, and never had the chance to explore is full potential.
    But his legacy remains for sure.

  • Rosco

    I have always been a huge fan of Penny.  Chuck got it right when he stated, ” the media hailed Penny Hardaway as “The Next Magic Johnson”, not the next jordan…”.  Jordan is the greatest player and greatest two guard ever, but Penny was at the time a top 3 point guard ever.  He passed and ran an offense like Magic and scored at will like Jordan (with arguably the exact post skills of His Airness).  It is a shame injuries took it all away.  Jordan is the best, but in Penny’s prime, even Jordan praised him!! 

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