The selection of Tim Hardaway, Jr. last night makes for a strange – and ironic – family affair, as the newest Knick will actually have his biggest fan, dad Tim Sr., cheering for him despite being a huge Miami Heat homer.
The former was the Knicks’ No. 24 pick in the first round last night, while the latter was a former Heat legend and current employee as the team’s community liaison and scout. But dad duties always come before anything else in life, Hardaway, Sr. said he’ll have no problem rooting for his son, although he also admitted it’d feel a little “weird” because he’s “not sure” who he will root for whenever the Knicks and Heat clash.
“It’s very ironic,’’ Hardaway, Sr. said. “The years I played and the rivalry we had, [and] now it’s coming full circle. My son is going to play for the Knicks. I’m very happy for him. It’s not about me. It’s about him. It’s about him being happy. … I can root for the Knicks even though I work for the Heat, [but] when they play against us I don’t know what I’m going to do.’’
The son said he was “thrilled” to be a part of the Knicks and “can’t wait” to call the Garden home. He said while he doesn’t have the all-time great handle that his dad had, he thinks he can offer a lot to a Knicks’ squad that is in need of a lot.
“I can shoot it, [and] can get my own shot,” noted Hardaway, Jr., who then took a playful swipe at his dad, who was a diminutive point guard. “I’m more athletic, though. He's short and stubby. I’m definitely not the same as my father. He’s 5-foot-11. I’m 6-foot-6. We’re two different positions. One shoots better than the other, [while] one handles the ball better than the other. He can tell you right now there’s no comparison at all.’’
The elder also assessed his son’s ability, trying his hardest to do so impartially. Hardaway, Sr. said his son “sacrificed a lot” last season at Michigan, noting his 14.3 points per game scoring average, adding that his son will be an important piece to the puzzle.
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“As a scout, I felt he really wasn’t able to show his full talents,’’ the father said. “He was the veteran of the team, the leader of the team. He had to make sure everyone else does their job and does it well [and] it hampered his game a little bit. … If he would’ve went out there and been selfish, and done his own thing, they wouldn’t have made it to the championship game.’’
The Knicks made the right choice, Hardaway said from the perspective of a scout, because his son fits the criteria that head coach Mike Woodson looks for in his swingmen.
“Rivalries aside, it’s a real good fit for him,’’ Hardaway, Sr. said. “To come into an established team that needs help in shooting the ball and athleticism. And he’s long, athletic, [and] can play some defense. … It’s another piece to the puzzle for them.’’
The son isn’t ready to tout himself the missing piece to the Knicks’ championship puzzle, but said he’s very excited in merely trying to fit in and play alongside one of the game’s greats in Carmelo Anthony.
“It’s going to be an honor. He’s one of the top five players in the game, and an unbelievable scorer,” gushed Hardaway, Jr. “Melo’s a guy who gets the crowd into it.’’
If the Knicks get their wish, the son will one day be able to get his Heat-loving dad into it and cheering for the Knicks, no matter how weird that may seem to all.
The elder Hardaway took a nice shot at the rival Boston Celtics for the way they’re reportedly gutting their roster: “Everybody in the East is getting better -- the Knicks, Indiana, and Brooklyn now. We [the Heat] don’t have to worry about Boston no more.”
Hardaway, long a nemesis of those great New York teams in those classic Knicks-Heat playoff battles, said he still thinks about the iconic shot that Allan Houston made in Miami to end the Heat’s season in 1999: “I can remember Allan's shot like it was yesterday. I walked through the building here [at the Knicks’ practice facilities] and saw [a picture of] Allan with the shot. Of course, the Knicks in 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 was our rivalry. [But] to get chosen here, it goes out the window.”