A Family Affair: Shane Larkin Learning From A Legend

by Jonah Ballow

There are undeniable perks to growing up the son of a professional athlete.  Unfortunately, the flip side to the experience can create a difficult upbringing as Tim Hardaway Jr. candidly vocalized during MSG Network’s Beginnings feature last season. 

“Having my dad criticize me all the time … my mom would get upset with him for arguing with me, my sisters would cry. … There were times when I didn’t talk to him for four straight days,” Hardaway Jr. admitted.

Tim Hardaway Sr. eventually learned how to balance his relationship with Hardaway Jr. and watched him flourish at the University of Michigan followed by an impressive rookie campaign for the Knicks.

“I had to really check my ego at the door,” Hardaway Sr. acknowledged.  “I had to really look at myself in the mirror.  And one day, junior year, I apologized to him.  I said ‘I’m sorry, I’ve been too hard on you.’ It helped us out as a family.”

New York acquired another son of a famous athlete last week in a blockbuster trade with the Dallas Mavericks.  Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin is the father of the Knicks new point guard brimming with upside, Shane Larkin.  In Shane’s first opportunity to speak with the New York media on Friday, he painted a positive view of learning from one of the best shortstops in baseball history.  

“Some of those advantages are that I’ve just seen how professional athletes prepare and how seriously they take their jobs,” Shane explained.  “A lot of people just think that professional athletes just go out there and have fun and play the sports that they love to play, but they don’t see a lot of the work that they have to put in behind the scenes when the lights are off.  I’ve always had the opportunity to watch my dad go in and get extra work in and all the All-Stars and Hall of Famers he’s played with always get that extra work in.”

From the get-go Larkin’s mental fortitude and worth ethic was tested when he suffered a broken ankle in a Summer League practice and was sent to the sidelines for three months.  The former No. 18 overall pick worked his way back to the hardwood in November, eventually displaying flashes of the player that led Miami to the Sweet 16 in 2013.  Shane believes the constant communication with his father was and will continue to be advantageous for his basketball career.

“He’s always been in my ear telling me what I have to do, the steps I have to take in order to be a successful pro and he’s just always someone I can lean on whenever something happens and I’ve always had that advantage to me and it’s just been a great thing for me,” Shane added.

The professional father-son relationship is a tricky dynamic.  Hardaway Jr. and Hardaway Sr. navigated through the turbulent waters, which led to a healthy resolution and a productive first-year for the Knicks shooting guard.  Shane’s experience while different, carries a similar theme of learning from one of the best and that bodes well for the future of New York’s new point guard.