Tim Hardaway brings Miami Heat legacy to the basketball court

The speech he gave Saturday night at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame will undoubtedly be longer.

But when asked to describe his time with the Miami Heat, Tim Hardaway needed only four words.

Hardaway told The Sun Sentinel while taking a break from finishing his speeches at Springfield, Mass.

The call to the hall also includes Hardaway’s time at Carver High School in Chicago, his time at the University of Texas El Paso, playing for Team USA and, of course, as the lead man in the Golden State Warriors’ high-octane attack. , time alongside Hall of Famers Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin.

But from a South Florida perspective, while a second chance from Pat Riley led to the rebirth of the NBA, it all goes back to one moment in time.

In fact, two.

On February 22, 1996, after being left out of the Warriors’ starting lineup amid concerns about a shot at his knees, Hardaway was dealt to the Heat as part of a 10-man deal.

Then, three days later, the still-explosive 6-foot-tall guard arrived with 20 points and nine assists in the victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

From four games under 0.500 when he arrives, the five-time All-Star will help lead the Heat to six consecutive playoff berths, having had only two in the first seven years of the franchise, and one in the previous three.

“That night, right there, when I began to have fun again, and I began to enjoy the game of basketball again, and I wanted to show everyone that I was not finished, and still had so much to give,” Hardaway, 56, with the same strong enthusiasm that sparked the Heat’s attack over of two decades. “And we all came together and embraced this challenge and enjoyed embracing this challenge.”

Hardaway offered his thoughts in the wake of officially signing Heat captain Odonis Haslem again for his 20th season with the team. In announcing his comeback, Haslem spoke of being the face of heat culture.

Hardaway respectfully opposes.

“I think Heat culture started in 96-97,” Hardaway said of his first full season with the Heat. It didn’t happen when Pat Riley arrived [in 1995-96]Because he didn’t get his team together.

“Once the team was completed in 96-97 and we got out there and trained and went out and worked and got out there and played, we just wanted to win. We enjoyed playing with each other and with each other and we can always count on each other to get into that hole and know that everyone supports each other. Hence from here. I started.

In this regard, Hardaway made a list of people he associates with Heat Culture long before the eras of Haslem, Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O’Neal and now, Jimmy Butler.

“The Heat culture started with Pat Riley coming to the Miami Heat, with Keith Askins, Alonzo Morning, and then when he made that trade. I really think Heat culture started in 96-97, with Keith, Alonzo Morning, me, Fauchon Lenard, Dan Magerley, Ike Austin and PJ Brown, of course.

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“All this social media, they forget what really happened in 96-97, 98, 99. They forgot what really happened. They just look now, with the big three and these guys. I laugh, I just let it go. But it started in ’96- 97 And a lot of people forget that.”

In fact, even before.

It was during the beginning of 1995-1996, before his mid-season trade, when Hardaway began planting seeds with the blacksmith.

“I told Zoo to tell Pat, ‘You need a guard like me to get in and run this team, and I know I can do it,’” Hardaway said. “I told Zo, ‘Tell him to trade for me, and we’ll put him in the playoffs. [Riley] Believe me or not. I think he was like, “What the hell, let me take a picture, because right now, that’s not going to happen.” “

So, as the Heat dropped six games under 0.500, lost touch with the playoff race, and with Riley at risk of missing out on a postseason debut for the first time in his 14th season as coach, Hardaway earned a stage for his second act.

“I know I need to get out of this situation in the Golden State,” Hardaway said. “I knew I could still play at a high level and get back to where I needed to to get to the All-Star level. It’s kind of like we both need each other. Pat needed me I needed Pat. And Zo needed both of us to get to the next level.

“This is how I grew up and developed. I just think we need each other. And it all happened so beautifully, for all of us.”