Q+A: Tim Hardaway Jr

by March 18, 2013


by Daniel Friedman / @DFried615

When Tim Hardaway Jr was playing ball in Miami as a youngster, he remembers that people would always refer to him as “Tim Hardaway’s son.” This doesn’t come as a shock, since his father, Tim Hardaway Sr, played ball in the NBA for 12 seasons, five as an All-Star.

The elder Hardaway was known as a smooth passer and crossover artist, averaging 17.3 points and 8.2 assists per game throughout his career. Hardaway Sr reached 5,000 points and 2,500 assists faster than any other player in NBA history, except for Oscar Robertson. Hardaway Sr’s No. 10 also hangs in the rafters of the Miami Heat’s arena.

In a basketball sense, Tim Hardaway Jr has begun to take after his father. In his junior season playing for the No. 7-ranked Michigan Wolverines, Hardaway is averaging 14.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. He holds the record for three pointers made in a season by a freshman. Partnering with Trey Burke in the backcourt, Hardaway gives Michigan one of the most dangerous tandems in college basketball.

In a recent interview with SLAMonline, Hardaway talked about the NCAA Tournament, what it was like growing up with a Dad he could watch on TV, and his plans for the upcoming NBA Draft.

SLAM: How did you get started playing ball?

Tim Hardaway Jr: Started playing basketball around middle school, started to get real serious about it after my freshman year in the summer, going into to my sophomore year. Then the looks just started coming after my sophomore year from different coaches and different universities, and that’s basically it, that’s why I’m here now.

SLAM: You played football and basketball in high school right?

TH: Yeah, I played football in ninth grade, but in Florida it’s so serious I didn’t really get into it that much. My dad didn’t want me playing football.

SLAM: What was it like growing up with a dad who was playing in the NBA?

TH: It was tough because you would always want that father figure around you every single day, but he would be out of town. So the only person that would be around was my mom. She would always take us to school, cook us dinner, she would take us to our games… So she would always be there, and so she basically knows more about the game of basketball than any person I know besides my dad. It was good just to be around her, but it was tough. It was cool also at the same time because you get to say you know, ‘Hey, that’s my dad,’ and you get to watch him on TV, so you had some positives and some negatives, but we all prevailed very well.

SLAM: Did your dad try to coach you up a little bit when you were playing organized sports?

TH: Yeah, he tried to coach me up a little bit, but I didn’t take it too well. He would tell you right now, he always used to get on me and he always wanted me to perform at the same level he did when he was my age. But I mean the era that he grew up in and I grew up in are totally different, all they had was basketball. There are just so many other opportunities and activities that you can do. You can go to the park, you can go to parties your friends are holding, you can go to the beach. There’s so many other opportunities to have fun than just playing basketball like he did.

SLAM: You said he was tough, but was your dad a little too hard on you growing up?

TH: He was hard on me. And he really wanted me to succeed just like he did at a younger age but it wasn’t showing, and we would have arguments and go days without talking, three or four days. And it was really messing up the family. And I mean this was going on from seventh grade until like my junior year of high school. Then that’s when he sat down by himself and just watched me play and realized I was doing everything he was telling me to do. Then after the game, he apologized about what he did. And ever since then we’ve just been really strong, one of the best friends anyone could ever have.

SLAM: How did you end up choosing to attend Michigan?

TH: Well, it was crazy because I never really knew the history or knew about the University of Michigan until they started looking at me. I didn’t know anything about the Fab Five. I grew up in Miami so that was ACC territory, so it was all about The U, and FSU and Florida.

There was a tournament in Akron, OH, and I was with my traveling team, and I guy came up to me and talked to me about Michigan and said they had been giving me looks, and it was great. A couple years after that I went on an unofficial visit for a team camp and just checked it out with my parents. But the first time I thought about having a chance to go here was at the Duke game, when they played against Michigan in my junior year in high school. It really showed me what Coach was all about. It was great to see him take a team that wasn’t as highly ranked as we are today and going out there and beating a very highly ranked Duke team that had a lot of superstars on there that were five-star recruits, and just taking them to the tournament, it was great to see that. And I wasn’t very highly ranked at that time so that played a big part in my decision of going here.