"Kevin Durant is the only unstoppable player in the NBA.": Tim Hardaway Sr, NBA legend
As part of the NBA's initiative to promote basketball in India, Tim Hardaway Sr has been touring the country over the last 4 days. The Miami Heat and Warriors great visited Lido Mall, Bangalore for a promotional event sponsored by McDonald's as part of the #SwitchOffandPlay initiative, and he graciously agreed to give us an interview during the event.
Here's the transcript for the same:
Q: Do you think yours is the best crossover of all time?
Tim Hardaway Sr: No question. My crossover is better than anybody's crossover, whoever thought they had a crossover - mine.
Q: Is it because they carry the ball?
Tim Hardaway Sr: Yeah, I didn't carry the ball. They pick it up and do this and all of that, I didn't have time to do all of that. I'm trying to get to the rim, that exhausts a lot of energy.
Q: Who do you think has the better handles, Kyrie or Steph?
Tim Hardaway Sr: Kyrie! He has the better handles. You just look at it, I mean, he does a lot of things with the ball that Steph can't do.
Q: If you had to pick one player to make a shot with 10 seconds remaining in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, with the scores tied, who would you pick?
Tim Hardaway Sr: Kevin Durant. Nobody can stop him, his mid-range jumper from the low post. Kevin Durant is the only player in the NBA that nobody can stop.
Q: Not even LeBron?
Tim Hardaway Sr: Like I said, Kevin Durant is the only player nobody can stop. (Responding to audible disagreement all around) OK, can I say this? Did LeBron stop him when he had the ball for game? I can't hear you.... (Laughter ensues)
Q: In the next 3 years, how many titles do you think the Warriors are going to win?
Tim Hardaway Sr: If Kevin Durant stays, they can win all 3. They're gonna win this year. Then if they can keep him for 2-3 years, with Steph, they'll be favoured to win the 2 after that.
Q: So it all depends on Durant?
Tim Hardaway Sr: Yeah, it's all on Kevin Durant. Without KD, I don't think they can win it, and they know that.
Q: Based on the first 4 weeks of the season, who do you think are the favourites to emerge from the East?
Tim Hardaway Sr: If we're talking about how things are right now, it's obviously the Toronto Raptors.
Q: How about the Celtics?
Tim Hardaway Sr: Yes, last season they missed Kyrie Irving (in the playoffs), they missed Gordon Hayward for the whole season. They're trying to get Gordon Hayward back to his best, acclimated to playing basketball and developing cohesion with the team. But it's gonna take another 20-25 games for him to get his rhythm back, his legs back to 100%, his body back to basketball weight and shape. They're gonna be alright there. They will be the team to beat.....and oh! The Milwaukee Bucks! (Lets out a wolf-whistle).
Q: I was going to ask you about that. What do you think will be the difference this year with coach Budenholzer in place of Jason Kidd and Brook Lopez taking 10 3s a game?
Tim Hardaway Sr: Well yeah, they brought Lopez in this year. Kidd didn't have Brook Lopez with him during Kidd's time. They also got Ersan Ilyasova, so basically they've gotten some shooting on the roster which wasn't there last season. What Brook does is, he opens the floor for Giannis to do whatever he needs to do. They've got some guys that can make shots from the outside - the only guy that can't make 3s on the regular is Bledsoe. But you've got Middleton, who's gonna make 3s, Lopez who can make 3s, Snell and Brogdon who can both connect from downtown. So you've got, you can put 4 guys around him that's gonna make 3s, and it opens the floor up for him to do whatever he wants to do, and he's a tough cover because of that too.
Q: So who do you think will be MVP between Giannis, AD, LeBron or some of the other top guys this season?
Tim Hardaway Sr: Oh man, you know right now, you've gotta say Giannis is the frontrunner because of what he's doing and how he's taking his team to another level. But he still has to trust his team. When he gets into the lane, he's still gotta find those guys to make shots at the end of the game. He just can't say "It's on me, it's on me, it's on me." He's gotta make plays. It's on him to make plays, to dunk on people and do other things, but he's still gotta trust his teammates.
Q: How far do you see the Lakers going this year?
Tim Hardaway Sr: I see them going to the playoffs. If they're 4th or 5th in the West, they can win a playoff series, but that's about it. It depends on who they get in the second round, but I don't see them going beyond that second round, into the Western Conference Finals. Based on what I've seen so far, I just don't see it.
Q: Who is your favourite player to watch today?
Tim Hardaway Sr: I like watching out for teams rather than individual players. I like the Golden State Warriors as a team, you know, they like moving the ball. I like watching Boston Celtics as a team.
Q: They generate a lot of open looks.
Tim Hardaway Sr: Yeah, yeah. I even like watching the Milwaukee Bucks as a team, cuz they pass the ball around, they get people involved. So they have fun playing the game. Even Utah Jazz, they have fun playing the game. They pass the ball around, they play well together too.
Q: So, of the 2017 rookie class, the one that is the sophomore class right now, who do you think will be the best player in 5 years?
Tim Hardaway Sr: Mitchell, of course. Tatum, no question.
Q: Between these two, who would you pick long term?
Tim Hardaway Sr: Between the two, in the next 5 years, I will pick Tatum. I like Tatum cuz he's tall, he can do a lot, he can stick to multiple players on both sides of the court and so he has a lot more in his repertoire - and he can play defense on multiple players.
Q: Have you watched some Mavs ball this season? Do you think Luka Doncic will be Rookie of the Year?
Tim Hardaway Sr: Um, I'm an NBA ball player, and I'm happy that he's living the dream, getting drafted to the league at 19. Happy he made it. I have to see a little bit more of him, I haven't seen enough from him yet. I just need to see a little bit more of him.
Q: Would you pick Ayton over him?
Tim Hardaway Sr: I haven't seen a lot of Ayton also. I just need to see them more to gauge them as players. I like both their games from what I've seen, but I haven't seen enough.