One-on-One with Penny Hardaway
Penny Hardaway is entering his 10th NBA season.
In a recent Suns.com poll, Phoenix fans were asked who they would most like to chat with during Training Camp this year. The resounding winner, with over 47 percent of the 5,000-plus votes, was guard Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway.
Despite coming off a sub par year in 2001-02, averaging 12.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists, Hardaway remains one of the most popular players on the Suns' roster.
The four-time All-Star with the Orlando Magic is expected to play a valuable sixth man role for the club this season. But whether he starts or comes off the bench, the 6-7, 215-pound guard says he just wants to help the Suns win.
In 144 games with the Suns, Hardaway has averaged 14.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists, but knee injuries have robbed him of some of his explosiveness. The ninth-year pro underwent another surgical procedure this summer and reportedly is in his best health in years.
As promised, Hardaway chatted live with fans from Training Camp on Tuesday, Oct. 1.
Brian (chandler): How is your knee?
Penny Hardaway: My knee is in great shape because of my offseason workouts. I didn't play any basketball all summer, I tried to save my knee for the season. So I came into the season feeling good and feeling healthy.
Bill: what was your reaction when coach johnson said you may be coming off the bench?
Penny Hardaway: With me being comfortable where I am in my career and being healthy, it didn't discourage me because I know I'm going to be successful even if I don't start. If that's his decision, then I will deal with it. It's not about me, it's about the team.
nick (lanham): penny... i think that u're still the best and i think many would agree. Do u think you'll still play for 3 - 6 years?
Penny Hardaway: I think so. I have four more years left on my contract and I'm looking to fulfill that and we'll just have to see after that. I definitely plan on fulfilling my contract.
Reedykat(Hampton): What do think are the strengths of this season's squad?
Penny Hardaway: Youth and energy. The strength of our squad is we're going to be able to run the basketball. We're going to take pride in that. We're going to be better defensively too because of our energy. But running the basketball is our biggest strength.
Echohawk Lefthand: Penny, What improvements do you expect from yourself this season compared to past seasons with the SUNS?
Penny Hardaway: This year compared to the other two years is I'm wiser and my leg is strong again so I can play at a high level. I'm bringing a different skill level because I have the freshest legs since I've been here.
greg, tempe: Is it just as exciting to start camp now as when you were a rookie or what is the diffrence?
Penny Hardaway: I think it's more exciting when you go into your first camp because you don't know what to expect and you're living out your dream. As a veteran, you're coming in shape and you're a pro and you just work hard and try to get ready for the season.
gaoua mohamed (france): what is your opinon about the world championship this summer?
Penny Hardaway: It was just hard-played games which unfortunately the U.S. didn't come out on top. Other teams are getting better and it's just the way the ball bounced this summer. I'm sure we'll bounce back.
james, dallas: penny, not sure if you ever met fellow memphis tiger dajuan wagner or saw him play last year but do you feel a connection with him as a tiger and how do you think he will do this year?
Penny Hardaway: I know Dajuan pretty well, he's a great talent. I played with him this summer and he's a special talent that is going to have an awesome year. I think he has a great chance to win Rookie of the Year.
kevin houston: hey penny since you visit down here in houston alot during the summer. tell me why so many nba players make houston their home during the summer thanks penny have a great season.
Penny Hardaway: I think that the level of competition that's there, John Lucas usually brings his teams into Houston. Along with Antonio McDyess, Robert Horry, Avery Johnson, Damone Jones, Darvin Ham, Nick Van Exel, when you go and visit and play with all those guys, you just want to keep going back there.
Mario (Charleston, SC): When are you coming out with new shoes again???? and wheres Little Penny
Penny Hardaway: Unfortunately not really having a full season to come back and play at a high level, tennis shoes haven't come back out. The ad with Lil' Penny came out long before I was injured so there's no more Lil' Penny. I don't think I'll be coming out with any more shoes.
Reedykat (Hampton,VA): What NBA team do you think will be the "sleeper" this season?
Penny Hardaway: I'd be lying if I didn't say us, because nobody is giving us a chance to do anything. Another team is Atlanta, a team that got some good offseason pickups, they probably can make some noise.
Birdie: I heard that you spent last month of your vacation in your hometown, Memphis. What did you do there?
Penny Hardaway: I worked out at the Grizzlies practice facility with Shane Battier, Jason WIlliams, Brevin Knight. A lot of us went over there and played pickup. I also had a chance to visit with family.
G-Money (Santa Ana,CA: Whose the toughest player you have had to guard?
Penny Hardaway: It'd have to be Michael Jordan when he came back out of retirement. We beat him in that series, but he was so tough to guard. He's definitely the toughest I'd have to face.
Elias, WA: what do you think on doing after you retire?
Penny Hardaway: I want to go into acting. I was already in one movie, Blue Chips, I haven't done anything else since that time but I'd like to get back into movies or sitcoms or something.
MEMPHIS: I NOTICE THAT YOU RECENTLY SEEM TO SPEAK OF THE LORD..ARE YOU NOW AN CHANGED MAN
Penny Hardaway: I gave my life to Christ at the end of last season. I've always gone to church, my grandma has always had me go to church. But this summer, I've really given my life to the church because he's the reason why I'm back now. I have to give him thanks for allowing me to come back like this.
Oscar,Sweden: Hey. That tattoo you have on your arm,what does it stands for?
Penny Hardaway: It's a tattoo I got the day before I signed with the Suns. I knew my career was over with Orlando, so I put Part 2 because of the second half was meant to be in Phoenix. Heaven Cent is my other tattoo.
harrison lee: what do you think of amare?
Penny Hardaway: Amare is just raw talent, very young. He reminds me of a Kevin Garnett type player. He doesn't have the range, but has the athleticism. This year he'll have a great year, but a couple of years, he'll be amazing. He's got a lot to learn still, but he's going to make an impact right away.
Mase: What are your expectation for your team and yourself?
Penny Hardaway: For the team, our expectations are to make the playoffs. As an individual, I want to dominate at the things I can do well, passing, scoring, defending. If God allows me to stay healthy, I'll have an awesome year.
Penny Hardaway: Thanks for being concerned. I know it's been a couple of rocky years but injuries happen. I'm back though and I hope I can give you something to cheer about this year.