For some reason, Anfernee 'Penny' Hardaway seems to be one of the greatest NBA players no one ever seems to talk about.
He was a versatile guard that could play and defend multiple positions, score from all three levels, create for others with insane playmaking skills, and was one of the most electric players to watch in his prime.
Recently, his former teammate Nick Anderson recalled just how good and versatile he was back in the day, going as far as to compare him with LeBron James:
"You look at Penny Hardaway, a 6’7 and a half 6’8, can pass the ball, can score, rebound, great defender… Did it all!" https://www.ballysports.com/watch/vod/nick-anderson-magic-s-markelle-fultz-will-come-back-strong
“And I look at LeBron James, he’s a ‘Mister-do-everything’. That’s what I love about him. I can go back to what my Pops told me, may he rest in peace, ‘Learn how to do a little bit of everythin’. And LeBron knows how to do a little bit of everything.”
As crazy as that may seem for younger fans, Anderson isn't the first player to compare Hardaway with LeBron.
Not so long ago, Shaquille O'Neal said that he was a bit of a combination between Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James:
“Penny is a mixture of all the other guys I’ve played with. At times, he was like D-Wade because he could just take over the game. He is sort of like LeBron (James), he’s a great passer. Whenever I wanted the ball, whenever I ran the floor, he always got me the ball. We never had problems. And he had that killer instinct of Kobe (Bryant). And I hate to see his career cut short because of injuries. If he didn’t have injuries, people would definitely hear his name more. Penny was the coolest young kid ever since I saw D-Wade, LeBron, and Kobe,” Shaq said.
Shaq should know, as he shared the locker room with all of them and won rings with 2 of those stars.
If that wasn't enough, Horace Grant -- who also played with Kobe and Penny, even said that he would take Hardaway over Kobe because he was a willing passer:
"Talent? Oh man, that’s very tricky. They’re both right there. I can’t say one is more talented.”(...). "I’m talking about 6’7”, 6’8” can see the floor, three-pointers, drive to the basket, assists, you name it. All-around game. They were both fine with me man. If I had to pick, I would say Penny. Penny, you can go up and say, ’Yo, Penny, I need a couple of shots, man.’ ‘Ok, alright, imma get you the ball.' Kobe would say, ‘Hey, get it off the rebound’," said Grant.
That's a lot of praise from several players and for very good reasons. Hardaway was one of the league's finest entertainers during his days with the Orlando Magic.
Albeit he could never win an NBA championship and even if his career averages aren't that impressive, Penny was still a one-man show before injuries and inconsistency took a toll in his career.