They may not have advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs — and sometimes they missed the postseason altogether — but the Golden State Warriors teams of the late ’80s and early ’90s nonetheless hold a special place in the hearts of longtime fans.
And while Chris Mullin was the cornerstone, Tim Hardaway may deserve equal credit for making that era of Warriors basketball what it was. From his earliest days with the franchise, the baller was UTEP two-stepping his way into fans’ hearts with his innovative game.
During a period when Magic Johnson, John Stockton, Isiah Thomas, Gary Payton, Kevin Johnson and Mark Jackson were balling out, Hardaway was a top-five player at his position.
For all the good he did on the hardwood, though — the All-Star nods, Run-TMC, etc. — the former floor general has yet to net the Hall of Fame induction that many feel he deserves. However, he may finally be on the cusp of receiving his sport’s highest honor.
On Friday, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced that Hardaway is one of 11 finalists for enshrinement as a member of the 2022 HOF class.
Hardaway Has a HOF-Worthy Résumé
This isn’t the first time that Hardaway has been up for a spot in the Hoops Hall; his near-misses have been a hot-button issue for years. For his part, Stan Van Gundy, who was an assistant on Pat Riley’s staff when the point guard was in Miami — has been outraged by the continued snubbing.
“I’m more focused on the Hall of Fame with the disappointment again of Tim Hardaway Sr. not getting in. That to me just makes no sense. It’ll never make sense to me,” the coach said last year, via Mavs.com.
“I know the numbers and the awards and everything on some of the other guards that are in there. It’s a huge disappointment and it’s hugely ridiculous that the voters are overlooking him.”
Where statistics and accolades are concerned, Hardaway’s candidacy is impossible to dismiss. Over a 13-year career, he averaged 17.7 points, 8.2 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Meanwhile, he played in five All-Star games and was a five-time All-NBA honoree.
Hardaway also ranks 12th all-time in assists per game, 18th in total assists, 15th in assists percentage and 39th in offensive box plus/minus.
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Some, including Hardaway himself, are of the opinion that his past statements regarding the LGBTQ+ community are what has kept him out of the HOF. During a 2007 interview, he said the following in response to former NBA big man John Amaechi coming out as gay:
“Well, you know I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don’t like gay people and I don’t like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don’t like it. It shouldn’t be in the world or in the United States.”
Since then, though, Hardaway has apologized multiple times and did his best to make amends for his former ignorance. As relayed by NBC 6 South Florida, the baller was the first person to sign a 2013 petition seeking to legalize gay marriage in the Sunshine State.
He also expressed support for former Nets center Jason Collins when he came out.