GREENBURGH, N.Y. — As the newest member of the New York Knicks, Tim Hardaway Jr. was inside their practice facility when he saw a picture of a moment he remembers all too well.
Sitting across the bench from the Miami Heat at the old Miami Arena in the 1999 playoffs, he saw one of the greatest moments in Knicks history.
“I remember the game winning shot that Allan Houston made,” he said. “He shot that floater and it hit the front of the rim, the back, and went in. After that all I see is him running down the court, pumping his fist.”
Now he will be looking to help the Knicks once again create moments like that one for years to come.
Hardaway Jr., the 24th-overall pick in the first round out of Michigan in Thursday’s NBA Draft was introduced to the media for the first time Friday afternoon with his parents.
His father, Miami Heat legend and New York Knicks nemesis, Tim Hardaway Sr., posed with his son while holding up his new number five Knicks jersey.
The man who had tormented the Knicks during the rivalry with the Heat in the late 90′s and is now a scout with Miami was happy for him, no matter if he was drafted by a team he loved to beat as a player.
“The rivalry that we had, now it has come full circle and now my son is going to play for the New York Knicks,” the elder Hardaway said. “I’m very happy for him. It’s not about me, its about him. It’s about him being happy now.”
Unlike his father, who is only 5′ 11″ and was a point guard, Hardaway Jr. is a 6′ 6″ combo guard that was a key part of the Michigan Wolverines making the Final Four this past season. Going from being a veteran on a college team to a rookie contributor in the NBA is never an easy transition. With the Knicks being a veteran team, Hardaway Jr. wants to take advantage of that and learn as much as he can.
“Whatever the team needs me to do, sacrifice my body, whatever I need to do for the team,” Hardaway Jr. said. “We have a lot of veterans on the team as well, so I’m definitely going to take advantage of the opportunity to ask them questions just to make me a better ball player that what I am right now.”
With the uncertainty of whether or not J.R. Smith will be returning to the Knicks as a free agent, most people believe that Hardaway Jr. was brought in as insurance.
When speaking to the media last night, Knicks General Manager Glen Grunwald made it clear that when it was their turn to pick, Hardaway was the guy they wanted.
“It’s true we only have two players under contract at the guard position. [Help at guard] is definitely a need, but I think the primary reason we drafted him is we felt he’s the best player available,” Grunwald said.
With the Atlantic Division going through some major changes the past 24 hours, the Knicks hope that the addition of Hardaway Jr. and re-signing of key free agents will help them atop the Atlantic next year.
If anything, Hardaway Jr. has already helped bring the Knicks a new fan, one that nobody thought they would ever see, his dad.
“Yes I can root for the Knicks, Even though I work for the Miami Heat, I can root for the Knicks. When they play against us, I don’t know what I’m gonna do.”