Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about basketball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the basketball urban legends featured so far.
BASKETBALL URBAN LEGEND: Anfernee Hardaway was named “Anfernee” by mistake.
Drafted third overall in the 1993 NBA Draft, Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway came over to the Orlando Magic in a blockbuster draft day trade where the Magic traded the #1 overall pick, Chris Webber, to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for the Warriors’ first round pick (Hardaway) and three future first round picks. Teaming up with 1992-93 Rookie of the Year, center Shaquille O’Neal, Hardaway helped to make the Orlando Magic one of the most promising young teams in the National Basketball Association (NBA).
In 1995, Hardaway made the first of four straight All-Star Game appearances. In addition, in 1995 and 1996, Hardaway was named first team All-NBA. He was named to the third team, All-NBA in 1997, the first season he played without Shaquille O’Neal (who had left the Magic as a free agent to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers). Hardaway’s career was forever altered in the 1997-98 NBA season when he suffered an awful knee injury. After recovering from the knee injury, Hardaway played well in the 1999 strike-shortened season and then forced the Magic to trade him to the Phoenix Suns, where he would play in the backcourt with Jason Kidd. However, in the 2000-01 season Hardaway suffered a second knee injury that effectively robbed him of most of the skills that had made him an All-Star level player. He played another six seasons in the league, but he was essentially a bench player for most of them (barely even that towards the end of his career).
Besides his stellar play early in his career and a series of popular Nike commercials (with comedian Chris Rock voicing a puppet called “Lil’ Penny”), Hardaway is perhaps best known for his unusual first name. The origins of the name have become clouded over the years and today it appears that the general consensus is that his name was the result of a mistake on the part of his mother.
Is that true?
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