A peek into Tim Hardaway Jr.’s demanding upbringing went viral recently, when his father, the former All-Star point guard, was inside Detroit’s arena watching the Knicks game.
Hardaway Jr. had just hit a buzzer-beater at the end of the half against the Pistons, an impressive dribbling move and fade-away from the shooting guard. The camera then cut to Hardaway Sr., who was alone in the stands and scowling. Totally unmoved.
It was, as the kids say, a meme-able moment, but Hardaway Jr. had been living with that face for a long time.
“Everybody is reacting to that but he’s like that every day and all day. Like that doesn’t affect me. I already know how he’s going to react,” Hardaway said. “He’s been like that since I was in high school and college. He knows it’s a long game, it’s halftime and he’s hit a bunch of those in his career so he probably doesn’t even care.”
Tim Hardaway Sr. wasn't impressed with his son's first-half buzzer beater 😂 pic.twitter.com/Tac98AV1Rh
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) November 28, 2018
So he’s hard to impress?
“Yeah, but my mom is tougher than that.”
Living up to the expectations of a borderline NBA Hall of Famer is difficult, especially since Hardaway Jr. will probably never be as good as his father. But he has emerged this season as the team’s primary scorer, perhaps even an All-Star candidate who is averaging 22.1 points heading into Thursday’s game at Boston.
But Hardaway Jr said he doesn’t deserve to be an All-Star at the quarter pole. He learned about standards from his father. And the Knicks (8-17) aren’t meeting them.
“Growing up and just watching the game ever since my dad was playing, as far as I see as an All-Star is a guy who is helping his team win ball games. And at the end of the day has a pretty good record and are in a playoff spot or are in range of a playoff position halfway through the season,” Hardaway Jr. said.
“You’re not labeled anything if you don’t win any ball games. First and foremost we have to start winning ball games for me to even start thinking about that.”
Despite his high scoring average, Hardaway Jr.’s efficiency is poor and has taken a downturn recently. He is shooting a tad under 40%, the worst rate of any NBA player in the top-40 for scoring this season. That is somewhat mitigated by Hardaway Jr.’s rise in 3-point percentage (36%) and increased free throw attempts (5.9 per game is almost double what he averaged in any other season).
But he acknowledged the difficulties adjusting to being the focal point of the opposition’s defense.
“It’s been a so-so (start of the season for me). Like I said, my efficiency can be a lot better,” he said. “It comes with me knowing how teams are going to be defending me. At first I was shooting the ball over 40 percent early in the season but once teams start finding ways to defend me I got to find do a better job of getting my teammates involved and knowing and reading how defenses are going to play me now.
“It’s all a part of finding ways to score and how to be efficient out there.”
Also hurting Hardaway’s rise is the fact that he owns the worst defensive rating on the Knicks, just below Kevin Knox. Still, coach David Fizdale has played Hardaway Jr. the most minutes by far and said he’s playing at “an All-Star level.”
The Knicks have had a representative in the All-Star game for nine straight years.
“If he can sustain it up until (All-Star voting), I hope his name is mentioned for that stuff,” Fizdale said. “And I hope people view him that way. He really has taken himself to another level.”
But that level doesn’t impress the Hardaway’s unless the Knicks are winning. The losing is scowl-inducing.
“They were shooting 25% from the field in the first half. They were down (10),” Hardaway Sr. said recently on ‘Five Reasons Podcast.’ “He makes a jump shot to cut it to (8), at halftime. Am I supposed to get excited about that? I don’t understand that.”