Monday, July 04, 2011

Jersey Monday: Penny Hardaway

Today is Independence Day, so what better time to spotlight one of my Team USA jerseys. I considered going with LeBron James, but I've already spotlighted him way too often on Jersey Monday, so instead I'll go with another No. 6 for the United States, Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway.

Penny was part of "Dream Team III", back when we were still numbering all the post-1992 USA Basketball teams. That team easily won gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, wearing an entirely new style of jersey, replacing the old "block" jerseys that had been worn by the U.S. National Team pretty much since the team started competing in international competition. Take a look at that jersey number: that's quintessential '90s style. I'm really glad Team USA has gone back to a more traditional look, though I do kind of like the stars running down the sides.

The 1996 U.S. Olympic team was kind of a weird amalgamation of past and future. Five players -- Barkley, Malone, Pippen, Robinson and Stockton -- returned from the original Dream Team, and two others -- Hakeem Olajuwon and Reggie Miller -- were established NBA vets. Mitch Richmond was kind of in-between, though he really fit more in the vet group, then there was the new wave. Shaq. Penny. GP. Grant Hill.

It's weird to look back now and realize that of those 12 players, Penny Hardaway had the worst NBA career. In 1996 he was coming off the second of four consecutive All-Star appearances. Shaq had just left for L.A., so he was Orlando's clear alpha dog. And he had Lil' Penny.




Jersey Monday will continue every Monday until I run out of jerseys to spotlight. And since I’ve got more than 150 of them, that could be awhile.

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