Anfernee Hardaway is rarely in Orlando. His career nearly ended with the Magic after Brian Hill got the pleasure of cutting him the final time in 2006 -- he ended up playing 16 games for the Heat in 2007. Since then, arguably the team's best point guard has been absent from Orlando's halls.
Hardaway was back in town for an AAU camp at Disney earlier this week and despite time, age and injury distancing him from his glory with the Magic, where he was arguably the best point guard in the franchise's history, you still feel Hardaway retains a tie to Orlando, the Magic and the NBA fraternity.
Shannon Owens of the Orlando Sentinel sat down with Hardaway and talked about all things from Dwight Howard to the All-Star Weekend in Orlando to the prospect of players going overseas during the lockout.
Hardaway has seen it all in his career and so he is one person who can comment pretty directly about the Magic's current situation. After all, he helped lead the team to its first Eastern Conference Championship, saw the team's franchise center (Shaquille O'Neal) walk at the height of the team's powers and then, finally, suffer injuries and alienate his fans and teammates.
Hardaway's six years in Orlando pretty much describe an entire history of Magic basketball.
OK, Hardaway is not quite in with the NBA crowd anymore. He said his comeback attempts are at an end and he has not exactly been a constant sight at an NBA arena in a while. He said the lockout is likely caused by the owners being upset with Miami building a super team and it will last for a while because the owners are "gonna want to get some things straight where players can’t leave a franchise without anything." Part of that might be true, but there are bigger issues in this lockout.
Hardaway seems to be very much in Orlando's camp though. He is hopeful the lockout will not knock out the All-Star Game in Orlando, something he really wants to see after the last time it visited in 1992. Hardaway is also hopeful Dwight Howard stays in a Magic uniform -- even going so far as to say he thinks he will stay. But Hardaway admitted he does not know Howard particularly well.
What Hardaway seemed to be getting at in his interview with Owens was that the NBA has changed very much since his time in the league. He does not think it is a good thing for the league that players are threatening to go overseas. He remembers 1998 when the union was not particularly strong and it fractured as the canceled games continued to pile up.
Solidarity is going to be important if the players are to protect the rights they gained in the last lockout.
"It's not a good look because it means you're not caring about what's going on over here, you're just going to go and make money," Hardaway said. "But hey, that's the way it works. Every guy has a right to do whatever they want to do and would just say good luck to those guys who are gonna go do that."
Hardaway feels the league is pricing the veterans out of the league by having such a high veterans' minimum salary. Again, whether or not Hardaway has a real grasp on the issues is another question, but it is certainly a different perspective.
Always good to hear from Hardaway. It has been kind of hard to track him down. He told Owens he is hosting a radio show in Memphis and he currently tweets @Iam1cent.