NBA Free Agent Rumors: Penny Hardaway To Join the Miami Thrice?

morgan spoknyContributor IJuly 19, 2010

Lebron James’ “The Decision” special which aired July 8th, 2010 was no doubt egotistical, flashy, and a bit pompous, but what else did you really expect from “Akron’s Finest“? Have you not been following his career? Did the excessive use of 3rd person really shock you? At approximately 9:27 p.m., nearly 15 minutes further into “The Decision” than the network had promised, came the moment many fans had been anticipating since the NBA season ended. “This fall, I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat,” said the NBA superstar, who at 25-years-young already has a substantial legacy, including becoming the most coveted free agent in sports history.

Whether you like the move or not, you have really got to give Lebron his props because somehow he managed to make us completely forget about the chaos that surrounded Alex Rodriguez and his 250 million dollar contract with the now bankrupt Texas Rangers.

Frankly I had no problem with his highly publicized announcement, other than a slight gripe that he called the one hour television special, “The Decision”, and the city he was fleeing, Cleveland has been riddled with heart breaks also prefixed by “The”, such as The Catch, The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot, The Sweep and The Collapse.

The fact that Lebron thought it was a good idea to self title his breakup with Cleveland, “The Decision” is an incredibly cruel dagger, but at the same time somewhat hilarious to anyone with a sense of humor. After all, due to the live announcement roughly 2.5 million dollars, and four full ride scholarships to The University of Phoenix were donated to the Boys & Girls clubs. Despite his somewhat immature and tasteless dagger, how can you really hate a man for donating a good chunk of money to the kids! Would you have rather had him take Michael Jordan’s “been there before, mature route” and simply faxed in his verdict, which didn’t net any money or exposure for children who desperately need financial support? Whether you are or were a fan of Lebron, whether you liked the move to Miami, or despise it, however you want to slice it, the polarizing LeBron James special backed it up in terms of viewer ship. The Nielsen Co. estimates that 9.95 million people watched James announcement on ESPN, which is an absolutely staggering number and testament to James’ marketability for what was essentially nothing more than a one line breakup with a team that any educated NBA fan knew was coming from a mile away.

For the record, in my opinion The Cleveland Cavaliers more than deserved the breakup. Obviously something was array last season and you can‘t solely blame Lebron for the teams demise. I don’t want to get into all of the specifics at this time, as that is not the aim of this article, but it has been pretty well documented on the internet that some “extracurricular activities” transpired between Lebrons’ mother and teammate Delonte West. Not only does the evidence on the internet strongly back up the rumors, but so do the moves made by the franchise this off-season. GM Danny Ferry quietly resigned and Coach Mike Brown was fired, weeks before even hearing Lebron’s final decision. The city and the Cav’s owner chastised Lebron after his meltdown in the Celtic series, and once Lebron officially fled for brighter days in Miami, both the city and Gilbert showed their true colors. The fans revolted against the “King“, publicly burning his jerseys in the streets, stores slashed his merchandize prices, trying to eliminate all ties to their fallen soldier, a local brewery created a new bitter beer line and Dan Gilbert wrote one of the nastiest letters ever penned.

Yet somehow David Stern only fined Gilbert a measly $100,000. Go figure, Phil Jackson makes honest comments about an NBA referee making blatantly poor calls and dictating the results of a game and series and he gets issued a $35,000 fine.

To make matters worse, Gilbert then poured acid in the wounds by slashing Lebrons’ Fat Head to $17.41, the significance being that 1741 was the date that the infamous traitor Benedict Arnold was born. Then when you thought it couldn’t get any worse at the request of the NBA, Gilbert took down his incendiary letter and replaced it instead with a picture of Delonte West.

Now if you had to deal with that dysfunctional circus all year, would you really want to go back, even if your entire life resided in that city? Why would Lebron go back to a team and owner that were not loyal to him?

And just for the record, Dan Gilbert, you will not be sniffing the playoffs anytime soon, certainly not before Lebron and the “Miami Thrice”. Mr. Gilbert, good luck with the decade long rebuild project. Maybe in ten years time you will have learned the error of your way, and you will not drive away your prodigy and franchise savior again.

As the saying goes, from the Blackest Night comes the Brightest Day, and Lebrons’ defection to Miami has become the catalyst for the creation of one of the most exciting, compelling and thought provoking teams in sports history. Three top-flight players (Lebron, Dwade, and Bosh), all either in or entering their primes, working in tandem to make history and rack up rings.

Many people have burned the Heat for not having enough around the trio to win, but in my opinion they are creating a team the right way. Sink as much as possible into your superstars and then try to fill out the rest of the roster. I.E don’t spend your first dollars on guys like Darko Milicic and Drew Gooden.

Obviously, this trio’s very existence must by definition be taken seriously. In theory, they could be a downright scary team, with the uncanny ability to drive to the rack at will. The trio alone is obviously not enough to win a championship, but Pat Riley has quickly begun transforming the Heat roster in order to match up with the incumbent Los Angeles Lakers. Riley flipped the much maligned Michael Beasley to the Minnesota Timber Wolves for draft picks. For the record, I hate the move, but I understand why it was made.

On another side note, how many SF’s do the Wolves need? Wolves GM David Kahn had already acquired Martell Webster and Wesley Johnson on draft day. Kahn is acquiring these guys like they are going out of style, when the fact remains that these fringe pieces are the most available commodities in the league.

Anyways, Riley has also inked up a strong dribbler and sharp shooter Mike Miller to a 5 year deal, brought back a friendly face and hard worker in Udonis Haslem, signed a good rebounder, shooter and passer, Big Z, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and former Fab Five member, Juwan Howard, and sharp shooter James Jones who has a career average 3p % hovering near 40%.

Add these guys to their very strong draft class comprised of Dasean Butler, Jarvis Varnado, and Dexter Pittman and their two pieces that remained on the roster prior to the chaos, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers and the Heat right here and now have enough to win a title. Yes, that is correct, I just said that I think they are better than the Lakers, and subsequently so does Bottom Line Sports Show co-host, Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway.

Just when you thought things couldn’t get anymore exciting, the story took another interesting turn as live on the Bottom Line Sports Show, last Thursday, July 15th, 2010, at 9 PM/EST, legendary point guard, Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway made the announcement that he wants to come out of retirement and bring his talents to the Miami Heat. Within hours the story had become the #1 twitter topic and The Bottom Line Sports Show started receiving calls from ESPN to confirm the story. By morning, the story had made Sports Center, just about every newspaper throughout the United States and Penny was invited onto Outside The Lines to do an interview about his intention to join the Heat.

Of course some naysayer’s like Trey Kerby at Yahoo Sports came out of the wood work and ran articles stating that, “this is a husky pair of Bad Idea Jeans. Even though Penny has one of the best shoe lines ever, that doesn’t mean he should join the Superfriends. Sorry, ’90s nostalgia fiends, but the guy has played a total of 57 games since 2004 and hasn’t played at all since 2008”.

However, by the end of his article it seemed that Trey had changed his tone, “of course, Penny does have 16 games of experience in a Heat uniform and Miami sure does love its Hardaways, so if he were to come back, the Heat make at least a little sense. Not to mention his return would bring with it Lil’ Penny. We can all get behind that, I think”. Trey, if Adam Morrison and Brian Scalabrine have a job in the league you can’t tell me that the legend Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway doesn’t deserve one too.

In my opinion the point that Trey is missing is that Penny was forced to sit out of the game because of injuries, not because his skills had magically disappeared. Not to mention that Penny made the Heat in 2008, but was later released because the team was undergoing a youth movement and wanted to “get the kids some playing time”. Penny may have not been a good fit for the 2008 Heat, but he is a perfect fit for the 2011 Heat. Time can heal many wounds, and if Penny feels like his knees are rested and able to endure the wear and tear of a full NBA season, then he would be a great asset not only to the Miami Heat, but to the rest of the teams in the league that feel they have a chance to win a ring next year. Bringing Penny off the bench to backup Mario Chalmers would provide the Heat with yet another proven winner, a good shooter who can spread the court, a great passer who can distribute the ball and most importantly a smart player who understands the nuances of the game. As Penny said himself, “I love basketball and I didn’t get a chance to finish my career the way I wanted.” On the behalf of the entire Bottom Line Sports Show team, I know I speak for everyone when I say that I hope, our teammate, Penny has a chance to play alongside some of the most fun loving athletes on planet earth, under the tutelage of one of the greatest coaches ever, but most importantly the opportunity to go out on his terms and win a ring along the way.

By: Morgan Spokny

Be sure to check out Penny Hardaway, Charles Oakley, Brian Hooks, Mateen Cleaves, Gerald Brown, Jonathan Foy, Morgan Spokny, Howie Cowart, Eli Goldstein and the rest of the Bottom Line Sports Show crew every Tues 6 Pac, Thurs 6 Pac, and Sun 4 Pac.

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