Tim Hardaway, who combined with Alonzo Mourning to help lead the Miami Heat to four consecutive Atlantic Division titles and was at the epicenter of the compelling Heat-Knicks rivalry during that era, said Thursday he is leaving his job as a Heat scout to become an assistant coach on Stan Van Gundy’s staff in Detroit.
“I’m ecstatic,” he said by telephone. “It’s something I wanted to do. It’s all about teaching. I’m good at teaching and understanding players.”
And he was comfortable with Van Gundy, who was an assistant coach during Hardaway’s time with the Heat. “Stan and I have great rapport,” Hardaway said. “[Heat president] Pat Riley said it’s a great thing for me and he’s happy for me.”
Hardaway has spent a lot of time in the state lately, watching his son – Tim Hardaway Jr., now with the Knicks – play at Michigan.
In that time, I’ve really grown to respect the elder Hardaway as a person. A few years ago, he made some regrettable homophobic comments. Since, not only has he apologized, he’s become active in the gay-rights movement. That personal growth – combined with a true commitment to back it up – is commendable.
So, on that level, I’m happy for Hardaway and happy the Pistons are giving him a shot.
I’m also optimistic about what Hardaway, a heady point guard, can do for Brandon Jennings, D.J. Augustin, Spencer Dinwiddie and Will Bynum. For the Pistons to progress, they need smarter play from their lead guards. Quentin Richardson, Malik Allen, Jeff Nix and Hardaway will all have their roles for Stan Van Gundy’s Pistons. Assuredly, Hardaway’s includes teaching the point guards.
All in all, this news pleases me. The only way it would be better is Hardaway wearing the Pistons equivalent of this hat during games next season.