Odds are Tim Hardaway is going to get into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame sooner rather than later.
But there’s no doubt the five-time All-Star point guard — now a 47-year-old scout with the Heat — is disappointed he’s not joining the Hall in Springfield, Mass., this August alongside his former teammate Alonzo Mourning.
“I can’t really tell you my initial feelings,” Hardaway said of the Hall of Fame selection process before Tuesday night’s game against the Nets. “But I’m glad Zo got the call and he’s going in. I’m going to be there for him.
“We should have went in together,” Hardaway continued. “But you know, what can I say? I don’t have any control over that. That’s the way it is. “
Hardaway, whose No. 10 is the only other Heat jersey retired and hung up alongside Mourning’s No. 33 inside AmericanAirlines Arena, was joined at the hip with the 6-10, seven-time All-Star center in 1996 by Pat Riley.
The duo laid the foundation for future Heat championships, winning multiple division titles and making a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals before the declining and aging Hardaway was traded away at age 34 following the 2001 season.
This was the second year in a row Hardaway was one of the finalists to get into the Hall of Fame and didn’t. Mourning was a first-ballot selection.
“It would have been the perfect scenario to have Tim go in with me. Unfortunately it didn’t happen that way,” Mourning said. “I know he’ll have his opportunity at some point and I’ll be there for it.
“He deserves it just as much as I do. Obviously it’s a process for everybody. You got to think of individuals like [former Georgetown coach] John Thompson. He’s a third ballot Hall of Famer. He’s definitely deserving of a first ballot. I’m very, very fortunate and thankful I got in right away.”
Unlike the NFL and Major League Baseball, the NBA doesn’t have its own Hall of Fame. Instead, it’s a part of the all-encompassing Naismith Hall of Fame, which includes college basketball coaches and players and women’s basketball coaches and players.
The final selection process involves a 24-person Honors committee made up of Hall of Famers, basketball executives, media members and other contributors to the game. A finalist needs 18 votes to be enshrined. Hardaway has no idea how close or how far off he was from making it because the voting process is secret. All he said he got was a phone call telling him he didn’t get in.
Hardaway has three more chances to get voted in as a finalist. If he doesn’t make it in by then, his candidacy is suspended for five years before he’s eligible to become a finalist again.
For now, Hardaway says he’s just happy for his friend.
“I’m happy, I’m ecstatic for him,” he said. “No question he deserves it. He worked hard for it. I’m going to be there [when he’s inducted]. I’m going to have fun like it was me.”
Mourning, who spoke on a conference call Monday after his Hall of Fame selection was officially announced out in Dallas prior to the NCAA title game, reiterated Tuesday for the local media just how happy and grateful he is to be headed to the hall.
“[Monday] was an interesting day for me,” Mourning said. “I got a call from the President. President [Bill] Clinton reached out to me as well. Magic [Johnson] reached out to me and congratulated me. I got some amazing calls. It was an uplifting day. It really was.”
During a timeout with 5:09 to play in the first quarter, a video montage of Mourning’s career highlights played on the large screens in the arena. The crowd gave Mourning a standing ovation and he responded by standing, waving and clasping his hands as he mouthed, “Thank you.”
Mourning said he hasn’t come to a conclusion yet as to who will introduce him, but he’s hoping he can have two or three people share the honors.
“You think of John Thompson, Pat Riley, Mickey Arison, you think of a lot of people that have made truly significant investments that played huge roles as to why I’m in this position right now,” Mourning said. “I haven’t finalized anything yet. I spoke to Mr. [Jerry] Colangelo a little bit about it. We’ll come to a conclusion sooner rather than later.”