Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway was born on this day in 1972. The 3rd Overall Pick in the 1993 NBA Draft, Penny was traded on draft night for #1 Overall Pick Chris Webber. Penny would star in Orlando alongside Shaquille O’Neal and form one of the most potent duos of the 1990’s.
Penny took the league by storm during his rookie season. He averaged 16 points, 6.6 assists, 5.4 rebounds per game and finished 2nd in the Rookie of the Year balloting to Chris Webber. His second year in the league he would be named an All-Star Starter. It would be the first of four straight All-Star game appearances for him. He appeared to be destined for superstardom in the league.
However, early in the 1997 season Hardaway suffered a series knee injury that would only allow him to play 19 games that season. He was named an All-Star and played in the game, however he was never the same player he was pre-injury.
While Penny’s career on the court may have been hampered by injuries, he made a lasting Pop Culture impact. Starring in the movie Blue Chips with Shaq and Nick Nolte and his incredibly popular Lil’ Penny commercials cemented him as one of the most influential basketball players during the 1990’s.
The 48-year old is now the Head Coach at the University of Memphis. In his first season at Memphis he had the #1 recruiting class in the country. He may yet make it back and make another huge impact on the NBA, this time from the bench.
Penny has had a resurgence in the hobby and has been featured prominently in this year’s Panini NBA Mosaic. You can pick up many of his variations in the product for $5 and under.