Pistons' assistant coach Tim Hardaway a Hall-of-Fame finalist
Three NBA All-Star nominations, multiple college, All-NBA accolades and a brilliant playing career spanning 13 years wasn't enough for Tim Hardaway. On top of a hallowed career that has landed him in HOF considerations, the Chicago native has a son who currently plays for the New York Knicks, and has started his coaching career under Stan Van Gundy as an assistant coach in Detroit.
Per Hoophall, the Basketball Hall of Fame released this statement from the North American Committee Finalists regarding Tim Hardaway's selection:
TIM HARDAWAY [Player] - A 2000 Olympic Gold Medalist, Hardaway played 13 NBA seasons scoring a total of 15,373 points while averaging more than 20 points per game for four consecutive seasons. He is the 1990 recipient of the Jack McMahon Award for most inspirational player and a 1993 All-NBA Third Team member. He currently ranks fourteenth in NBA history with 7,095 career assists. The Chicago native was a member of the men's basketball team at the University of Texas at El Paso (1985-1989) and played in the NBA from 1989-2003. He is known for making his signature move - the "UTEP Two-step" - famous in 1989, the same year he was named WAC Player of the Year.
Joining Hardaway within the finalists pool, are veteran NBA referee Dick Bavetta, Kentucky's John Calipari, two-time NBA Coach of the Year (1976, 1980) Bill Fitch, as well as NBA All-Stars Dikembe Mutumbo, Jo Jo White, Spencer Haywood and Kevin Johnson. Other notable finalists include three-time WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie, the all-time winningest boys high school coach Robert Hughes and all-time winningest high school coach Leta Andrews and four-time Division III Championship coach Bo Ryan.
Hardaway was an amazing player during his time, and certainly deserves to be part of the Hall-of-Fame deliberations, on top of that, he has grown to become an active father figure for the younger players on the team. Per The Sun Sentinel's Ira Winderman:
"It's like being around my son, basically, because that's what these guys are, they're 22, 23, 24, 25 years old, that we have on this team. I treat 'em like my sons. Actually, they try to emulate my move, the crossover. And they want me to teach it to 'em. They know that I could still go out there and show them some stuff at real pace, real time. I'm an old guy, but not a dinosaur. They still can relate to me because I was around my son, and I was at the Michigan games and they saw me there, and they still can relate to me as a basketball player, too."
Having coach Hardaway back on the sidelines is not just good for the Pistons, it's good for the League, as he bolsters the ranks of players turned coaches around the Association. The Hall-of-Fame inductees will be announced later in the year, and I don't think I'll be the only one hoping that Hardaway makes it into the Hall.
Billups: Injuries shouldn't affect your ability to be a leader
Speaking of potential Hall-of-Fame finalists, Chauncey Billups talked to NBC Sports' Kurt Helin about Kobe Bryant's ongoing injury rehab, and discussed the impacts injuries have on a player's leadership abilities. Billups, who spent most of the twilight years of his career rehabbing from various injuries, never let the pain and disappointment weigh him down. The veteran point guard has always had a reputation of being a professional player on the court, but also a great leader and elder statesman capable of steadying a locker room. Chauncey always left a lasting impression wherever he went, and when injuries struck, reducing his playing time and abilities, Billups didn't stop to dwell on his situation, but continued to be the person so many people loved to watch and follow.
"The way you lead is who you are. It's who you are no matter if you're coming to the game in a suit, you're on the sidelines cheering guys on, or if you're dressed to play. That's just who you are, it's instinctual. So no, (an injury) doesn't change the way you lead. Not at all."
Billups was talking about Kobe's leadership abilities when queried by Helin, but his words of wisdom can be spread to the entire League's injured players, from rookies to veterans, the message is the same: Don't let injuries bring you down, and don't let them affect your ability to be a class act or be a leader.
Brandon Jennings certainly knows what the Piston great is talking about, continuing to support and lead the team from the sidelines and even from his hospital bed during his surgery. Leaders lead from the front, and players who learn to fight through injuries and continue to lead their teammates while doing so are better off for it. In an interview with SLAM, Billups opened up on what being a leader is about, and how playing in Detroit affected him.
All my life really, I've been a leader, since I was kid. Most of the time I was the captain (of my team). [...] Center opens at 10? I'll be at the doors at 9:50, waiting, it'll open up, then close around 6 o'clock, that's when I leave. I've been through a lot in this game, I've had some ups and downs, I've had to deal with both. [...] My experience in Detroit was the most precious years of my career, I felt as though I grew up professionally in Detroit, with that team, those guys. You gotta hold everybody accountable, you have to set the standard, you gotta live by it. As soon as I mess up, I'm the first to bow down and say 'My bad, I got you', I think that me, leading in that way, it kinda made everybody get in line. To become a good leader, you need to have been a very good follower, and know who to follow.
Billups' words speak a lot to who he is, and how he is such a natural leader, but also overlaps with the culture Stan Van Gundy is trying to instill in Detroit: hard work, accountability, and veteran leadership. Despite his retirement, Mr. Big Shot still is one of the better basketball minds in the League, and his quest to become an executive within the Association will most definitely benefit everyone involved with it.
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