Although the Miami Heat didn’t win their first NBA championship until 2006, the franchise enjoyed a level of success long before the Larry O’Brien Trophy was finally hoisted. From 1996 to 2001, the team was a playoff mainstay, winning 50-plus games on four occasions and making an Eastern Conference final.
The team’s floor general, Tim Hardaway, played a major part in making it all happen, UTEP two-stepping his way to All-Star nods and playoff wins along the way.
For all the good he did on the hardwood, though — not just as a member of the South Beach crew but as the T during the Warriors’ Run-TMC era — the former baller has yet to garner the Hall of Fame induction that many feel he deserves. However, he may be on the cusp of receiving hoops’ highest honor.
Per an announcement from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday, Hardaway is one of 11 finalists for induction as a member of the 2022 HOF class.
Hardaway’s HOF Résumé
This isn’t the first time Hardaway has been a finalist for HOF induction, and his exclusion from enshrinement has been a hot-button issue. For his part, former Heat coach Stan Van Gundy — who was one of Pat Riley’s assistants for the entirety of Hardaway’s run in Miami — is flummoxed by the big snub.
“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,” Van Gundy said in 2021, 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.”
From a statistical standpoint, it’s hard to argue against Hardaway’s candidacy. Over a 13-year career, he averaged 17.7 points, 8.2 assists and 1.6 steals per contest. Along the way, he played in five All-Star games and was also a five-time All-NBA selection.
He also ranks 12th all-time in assists per game, 18th in career assists, 15th in assists percentage and 39th in offensive box plus/minus. In an era when Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, John Stockton, Gary Payton, Kevin Johnson and Rod Strickland were balling out, Hardaway was consistently a top-five player at his position.
The latest Heat news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Heat newsletter here!
Some, including Hardaway himself, feel as though some of his past statements regarding the LGBTQ+ community have affected his HOF candidacy. During a 2007 interview, Hardway 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 and attempted 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 state. He also expressed his support for former Nets big man Jason Collins when he came out.