Tim Hardaway enters Basketball Hall of Fame thanking Heat for support, ‘when everybody thought I was done’ – The Denver Post



As he had emphasized ahead of Saturday night’s induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Tim Hardaway pointed to his second career chapter as a takeoff point to his path to the Springfield, Mass., shrine.

“Thank you,” Hardaway said during his enshrinement speech, “Micky Arison, the Heat organization, Pat Riley, for trusting me to take the team to the next level, when everybody thought I was done.”

It was during those six seasons with the Heat that the rugged 6-foot point guard helped lead the team to six playoff berths, after there had been only two in the franchise’s first seven seasons.

During his speech, Hardaway specifically offered thanks to former Heat teammates Alonzo Mourning and Keith Askins, both of whom were in attendance, with both now working in the Heat front office.

“He was our driving force,” Mourning said during Hardaway’s introductory video, “and we followed his lead, especially when it was winning time.”

Riley, who was not in attendance, said during his taped interview, “He was one of the greatest point guards in the history of the game.”

Hardaway was the first of the Hall’s Class of 2022 to speak, opening his comments with, “made it all the way to Springfield, Massachusetts, incredible” and ending his 10-minute acceptance speech with, “This is bigger than Tim Hardaway. This [is] for the South Side of Chicago.”

Along the way, Hardaway thanked his parents, wife and children, including Tim Hardaway Jr., the Dallas Mavericks guard.

And during his nod to his coaches, he mentioned of Golden State Warriors coach Don Nelson, a previous Hall inductee, “He lied to every team and said my knee was shot, so I would fall to the Warriors with the 14th pick, and he drafted me. Great job, Nellie. I appreciated you.”

There also was a poignant moment when Hardaway singled out late player agent Henry Thomas, who would go on to also represent the Heat’s Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, who will be entering the Hall next year.

“He was my confidant, a father figure, and a guy to always talk to, and he was one of the greatest agents in the business,” Hardaway, 56, said.

The also was a nod of appreciation to former NBA executive Jerry Colangelo, the chairman of the Hall of Fame, and to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and late NBA Commissioner David Stern, with Hardaway having offered years of contrition on the wake of anti-gay comments in 2007. Hardaway called the three, “men who never wavered in their belief in me.”

“My basketball journey was far from smooth, and it was against all odds,” Hardaway said emotionally of his path to Springfield. “My path was filled with obstacles and doubts. Yet it was also a beautifully paved road, filled with inspirational men and women who guided me, shaped me and supported me – every step of the way.”

Immediately prior to Hardaway’s speech, at the outset of the induction ceremony, Mourning joined NBA legend Jerry West on stage for a tribute to late Boston Celtics icon and social activist Bill Russell, who died July 31.

“The mentorship and friendship Bill provided,” Mourning said of the fellow Hall of Famer, “are all things that never can be quantified or forgotten. We will deeply miss our mentor, our friend, his gigantic smile and infectious laugh. Bill left this world a better place than he found it.”

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