A few new videos…
Here I come, armed with my 2020 biases and second-hand experience of stars sitting out games due to wear and tear. Yet I do think that Penny Hardaway fighting through pain to hold down the fort without Shaquille O’Neal was something that probably seemed risky even back then.
Hardaway was hobbled throughout the 1996 playoffs, spent the summer with Team USA in the Olympics (reportedly pain-free) and then again fought leg problems during the 1996-97 preseason.
“I was hurting pretty bad,” Hardaway said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “There were some days when I couldn’t even hardly walk.”
Yikes! That doesn’t seem… optimal. Hardaway used his dexterity to angle for 29 points in this one, yet admits as much after the game that he couldn’t really get off the ground. And that’s the sad part. Penny Hardaway not only had the athleticism, but also had the feel.
He stuck through one more game (fourth of the season) once Orlando returned from Japan, but then opted for arthroscopic surgery:
“But the Magic’s physicians have sensed he may have some cartilage damage because of the lingering effects of a leg injury he suffered in the playoffs last season,” L.C. Johnson wrote for the Sentinel.
Hardaway managed 20.5 points per game this year, played only 19 games in 1997-98 and was never the same after that, even if he put together a healthy season. It was all kinds of problems from this point on. November 8, 1996.
He blocks everything in sight. He dunks so easily as if it’s a small hoop in your bedroom (“WIIIYAAA HANGAAA”). He dives on the court twice in the same game (and he’s 7-6 for that matter!). How can you not love some Shawn Bradley action? I would venture to say that he denied the Orlando Magic about 93 points in the paint. All figures approximate. Don’t show this video to Penny Hardaway.
Two and a half minutes of action during which Horace Grant was always there when a 33-year-old Xavier McDaniel wanted to attempt a close jumper. Grant was just excellent on defense throughout the game.
Tony Massenburg had some “bring your lunch box to work” moments in this Nets and Magic game. An added bonus is him leading the break for a Kerry Kittles three-pointer. Love me some Tony Massenburg. Talk about a well-deserved title at the end after all the teams he had played for.
One of the six games that David Vaughn started in 1996-97 to replace the Shaquille O’Neal-sized void. Soon after Rony Seikaly took over, but the athletic Vaughn had his moments. The Memphis Tiger grabbed 13 boards in 25 minutes in this one and just overall was good for a double-double per 36. With this upload I also made sure that there is something else other than his rejection of Michael Jordan on YouTube.
No such thing as an easy two after all… The magnificent effort of Darrell Armstrong.
Don’t think I had ever seen Shawn Bradley hit with a technical foul. And it makes sense. He probably was one of the nicest guys in the league. It seems like he had a point as well. The refs really set the tempo for a 86-82 slugfest where you could hit guys in the paint with a tire iron and get away with it.