Tracy McGrady Says Penny Hardaway 'Was My Michael Jordan Growing Up'

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMay 23, 2020

Orlando Magic's Tracy McGrady goes up for a shot and misses late in the fourth quarter while being guarded by Cleveland Cavaliers' Jumaine Jones, left, in Orlando, Fla. Wednesday Jan. 29, 2003. The Magic beat the Cavaliers 113-108 and McGrady had 31 points.(AP Photo/Peter Cosgrove)
PETER COSGROVE/Associated Press

Despite growing up in the era when Michael Jordan dominated the NBA, Tracy McGrady was captivated by another superstar guard in the mid-1990s.

Appearing on the All the Smoke podcast with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, McGrady called Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway "my Michael Jordan growing up."

Hardaway's first season in the NBA coincided with Jordan's first retirement from the Chicago Bulls (1993-94). Penny had some characteristics of Jordan's style of play early in his career. He averaged 19.7 points, 6.7 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game with a 48.7 field-goal percentage in his first four seasons.

The Orlando Magic teams led by Hardaway and Shaquille O'Neal won at least 50 games in three straight seasons and played in the 1995 NBA Finals. The duo broke up after the 1995-96 campaign when O'Neal signed with the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent.

Hardaway's career was derailed by injuries starting in the 1996-97 season, but he made the All-Star team four straight times from 1995 to 1998.

McGrady wore No. 1 throughout his Hall of Fame career except in 2009-10 when he switched to No. 3 with the Houston Rockets and New York Knicks. He averaged 28.1 points per game in four seasons with the Magic from 2000 to 2004 while wearing Hardaway's former number.

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