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Friday, June 28, 2013
Hardaway Jr. swaps sides in Knicks rivalry

By Ian Begley



Tim Hardaway Jr. grew up in Miami, rooting hard for the Heat.

Now, he's on the other side of the storied Knicks-Heat rivalry. And he's just fine with that.

"It's ironic," he said, "but it's not awkward at all."

Hardaway Jr., selected 24th overall by the Knicks in Thursday's NBA draft, was introduced in a press conference at the team's facility on Friday. The shooting guard from Michigan, and son of former Knicks nemesis and Heat point guard Tim Hardaway Sr., said he hopes to contribute to the Knicks right away.

"I want to get better as a ball player throughout this whole summer, summer league and just see where that takes me," Hardaway Jr. said. "Obviously, the goal is to start but whatever the team needs me to do, I'll do it. Whether it's coming off the bench, a role player, whatever the case may be. I want to just try to be a contributor out there."

The Knicks entered the draft with holes to fill on the front line and at point guard, but they decided to go with Hardaway Jr. because, as general manager Glen Grunwald said, he was the best player available.

Hardaway Sr. joined his son in Greenburgh on Friday and said it was "ironic" that the Knicks selected his namesake. The Knicks, after all, are the same team he and the Heat locked horns with in several famous playoff battles in the late 1990s.

Hardaway Sr. currently serves as a scout and community liaison for the Heat. But he insists that he'll be rooting for Hardaway Jr. and the Knicks from now on.

"Even though I work for the Miami Heat, I can root for the Knicks," Hardaway Sr. said Friday. "[But] when they play against us I don’t know."

The younger Hardaway has a solid jumper with good range and can convert off the dribble. But he doesn't have his father's ability to break opponents down off the dribble and can be inconsistent on offense.

Tim Hardaway Jr.
Tim Hardaway hopes to make an immediate impact in his new uni.
"I tried to teach him that," Hardaway Sr. said. "But you know I'm just Dad now, I'm just Dad."

The Hardaway Jr. pick is a sign that the Knicks intend to keep Carmelo Anthony at power forward next season (Anthony won a scoring title at the 4 last year, so this makes sense). Hardaway Jr. also gives the Knicks insurance if J.R. Smith decides to take his talents elsewhere in free agency.

But the 6-foot-6 shooting guard wasn't thinking about any of that on Friday.

Instead, he was focused on what he can bring to the floor.

"I want to be an energy giver not an energy drainer -- a guy that can knock down open shots, push on the break, find guys," Hardaway Jr. said.

Both Hardaway Sr. and Hardaway Jr. would like fans and media to avoid comparisons between the two.

"I grew up differently, I played differently," Hardaway Sr. said. "I'm 6 feet, I'm a natural point guard; he's a two guard, it's not similar, it's totally different."

"I’m not the same as my father," Hardaway Jr. said, adding that his dad is "short and stubby." "... One [of us] shoots better than the other, the other handles the ball better than the other. He can tell you right now there’s no comparison at all."

The two haven't played one-on-one for "three or four years" when junior beat senior.

Hardaway Jr. went on to star at Michigan and helped the Wolverines advance to the national championship game this past spring, where they lost to Louisville.

Now, Hardaway Jr. will take his game to New York and try to make a name for himself with the Knicks.

"[I'll do] whatever the teams needs me to do," Hardaway Jr. said. "... I’m going to take advantage of the opportunity."