Gil Is Alright With Me
Will he honor Penny Hardaway with pride?
by Carron J. Phillips / @MrPhillips1983
Every sports fan has that one athlete who they place on a pedestal above the rest. My friends and I have dubbed that person as “Your Guy” (or gal, I don’t want to come off politically incorrect). Now there may be another athlete better than Your Guy, but they just don’t do it for you like Your Guy does. (Major Pause)
My guy has always been and forever will be Penny Hardaway. He’s the reason why I started hooping with a wristband over my left elbow, why number 1 is my favorite, and why the tallest kid (6-1) on his middle school team thought he could run the point. That last one didn’t work out too well; coach put me on the block.
But while I grew up in the age of Showtime, the Bad Boys, and Da Bulls, there was nothing Magic, Zeke or MJ could do to make me place them above Penny. I thoroughly believe that MJ is the greatest player to ever walk this planet, but he can’t touch Penny in my book. It’s similar to my thoughts on Kanye and Jay-Z. Hov’s the greatest, but if I were stuck on an island, I’d choose Ye’s discography without a second thought.
Earlier this week I saw a headline that stopped me in my tracks. It read, “Gilbert Arenas Will Wear No. 1 To Honor Penny Hardaway”.
As I read the story’s comments, two things became apparent: 1) People were pissed that Penny’s number hadn’t been retired yet (me included), and 2) Some felt that Arenas wasn’t worthy enough to dawn the royal blue and black No. 1.
But as I continued to read John Denton’s story I started to realize that Penny was Gil’s Guy as well.
“In my room I probably had 600 pictures up on my wall and 575 of ‘em were all Penny. It was funny when I played in Los Angeles all of my friends would say, ‘I hope you get traded to Orlando, your favorite team or some other team.’ It was funny because as soon as I got traded I thought, You’re there! Now pick No. 1. Yeah, that’s what I’m going to wear for Penny Hardaway.”
Gil’s words took me back to an old article from ESPN The Magazine that included a story about T-Mac when he was traded to Orlando. Penny was also His Guy, and he even wound up buying Penny’s old house.
During the ‘90s it was “Penny Mania,” and, while his shoes and commercials helped land Chris Rock and Tyra Banks seats on Oprah’ s couch, I remember noticing how the No. 1 became popular. Sort of like MJ’s 23, nobody was really rocking the 1 until Penny hit the League (he wore No. 25 at Memphis State).
So while Gil is making Orlando his new home and trying to get away from all the drama that took place in DC, I can’t be mad at him for idolizing the same guy I did. Because even though we we’re kids, we believe that nobody can be a bigger fan of “Your Guy” than we are, and we realize that it isn’t the case as we get older.
Pac said, “I Ain’t Mad At Cha” and that’s how I feel about Gil. I just hope he wears that number proudly. Hopefully his career won’t end in injuries like Our Guy’s did.
Because at the end of the day, Gil is somebody’s guy too.