Browse all

Penny Hardaway, the coolest coach in the world

17 years after his first signature shoe, Penny is still a style icon

Penny Hardaway, the coolest coach in the world 17 years after his first signature shoe, Penny is still a style icon

Anfernee Deon Hardaway is a name that may not tell you much. If you do not jump out of the chair with the addition of "Penny", then you should take this trip in the memory lane with us.

Getting started with Penny is really complex. Indeed, perhaps it is the best way to start from zero, from number zero. Hardaway is not in any palmares, because it has zero NBA titles, zero rings, zero MVP titles. Yet in certain places it is considered a semi-god. Try asking for "Penny" in Florida and you will see people melting into the fondest memories of what has been an on-court and off-court icon for them.

Why is it "Penny" for everyone and not Anfernee? As in an all American romantic story, there is an old grandmother who plays a fundamental role. Grandmother Louise called her grandson Anfernee "Pretty", but pronouncing it with a typically southern accent, the word took on a sound similar to "Penny". Another story that goes in this direction is that of its always number, the #1. He was wearing #25 in college and would have liked to use it at Magic too, where he ended up swapping with Chris Webber. However, the number was already assigned to Nick Anderson. Just thinking about the nickname of grandmother Louise, who remembers the 1 cent dollar coin, Hardaway chose the #1. Social accounts still testify to this, all under the name of @iam1cent.

Other stories that Penny can tell her nephews in no particular order: being involved in a shooting and getting out of it unscathed, always getting injured when you are stronger than before, being remembered by everyone for probably unrepeatable characteristics. Penny's story begins in Memphis, TE, where he grew up, where he became a player, where he returned as a mature man to coach that same university that launched him among the pros of the NBA. There, where the Blues was born, the story begins of an icon of American pop culture that will never fade.

Penny joined the NBA the same year as Jordan's first retirement, the icon par excellence. Michael didn't just leave a void in basketball, but throughout the developing NBA world, everything that is collateral to the story of parquet. Hardaway manages to fill that void immediately, entering the League as best he could, bringing with him a sense of swag that only MJ had. In the blood flowed that hip-hop rhythm that fed the music scene of the early 90s, in the mind the same vision of a young Magic Johnson, on his feet something that no one had ever seen. Elegant on the field, but with the irreverence of the best anarchists in the game.

Without going into the dynamics of the Game - he will end his career with 15.2 points on average, 5 assists and almost 2 steals per game with 4 different franchises - Penny is considered by everyone to be a style icon. Nike knows it well, who in the summer of 1993 realized that he had to go beyond Jordan, returning to the NBA market and trying to recruit some talented young men. Hardaway was perfect for Nike, Nike was perfect for Penny. In addition to basketball, legacy is twofold: personality on and off the pitch and his shoes.

There are two data to frame the Penny earthquake in the world of business sneaker: it was the first point guard to receive a signature shoe from Nike, the Air Penny (to see another one we have to wait two decades with the 2014 Kyrie); it was the richest Nike sponsorship deal for a rookie (only LeBron in 2003 will break Penny's record).

During his career, Penny Hardaway has worn in sequence: Nike Air Swift (1994), Nike Air Up #1 (1994) and Nike Air GO LWP (1995), all from the very first "Flight" series; Nike Air Force Mid (1993), two special PE colors of the Air Jordan IX (1994), Nike Air Pound (1994), Nike Air Prevail #1 (1994), Nike Air Lambaste (1995), Nike Air Flight One (NBA Finals 1995), Nike Air Zoom '96 #6 PE (Atlanta 1996), Nike Foamposite One (1997) and Sharpie version (1998), Nike Air Determination (2000); last but not least, the Air Max Penny of 1995, considered one of the 20 projects that changed the history of Nike. It is no coincidence that the Penny 1 is one of the most popular shoes of the Beaverton brand.

So many stories behind Penny Hardaway's signature shoes, but none match the genius that brought the Sharpie version of Foamposite to light. Technically speaking, it is not a Nike shoe but a real creation of the Orlando Magic # 1. The NBA implemented a policy that required that at least 50% of the shoe be chromatically black. This absurd rule did not allow Penny to take the field with her usual Foamposite. So to get around the problem, he took a black marker and colored the waves of the Nike shoe. It was renamed "The Infomous Sharpie Foamposite" by many and now you know why.

The idea of swag that Penny has is not something that is taught, it is something that is transmitted. Even after retiring in 2007, Hardaway never left the world of sneakers. He returned to his alma mater, in those Tigers of the University of Memphis where he grew up and in that gym that allowed him to be the third absolute choice at the 1993 draft. In addition to being a good coach, coach Cent goes on the bench like few others, with an unmistakable style. Everyone can wear Jordan I and a dress, but nobody can wear both in the same way Penny does.

Visualizza questo post su Instagram

need more coaches with shoe game like penny’s. @slamkicks

Un post condiviso da LeagueFits (@leaguefits) in data:

Whether it's a Nike "Hey Penny" model, a Louis Vuitton or Dior sneaker, a customized version of his Foamposite, Penny Hardaway remains a style icon as they no longer exist.