It’s late October in Rhode Island. Tim Hardaway Jr. just hit the biggest shot of his professional career -- a game winner against the Celtics in a preseason game -- and he’s standing outside of the Knicks' locker room, talking to his dad, Tim Hardaway Sr.
Hardaway Sr., the old Heat point guard, wears a wide smile as he speaks to his son. The Hardaways are laughing and joking, a proud father and son reflecting on a profound accomplishment.
“It was great to have him here,” Hardaway Jr. said that night.
New York Knicks
Hardaway Jr. didn't always feel that way about his famous father.
There were times when Tim Hardaway Sr. would “try to do too much” when it came to his son’s basketball career.
“It would break our family apart -- a lot of arguments, a lot of not talking to people for three days,” Hardaway Jr. said in an interview in August.
Hardaway Sr., a tough point guard from Chicago and five-time All-Star who gave the Knicks fits while with the Heat, wanted his son to play like he did. But Hardaway Jr. made his mark in a different role than his dad -- as a perimeter shooter and lane-filler.
“I wanted him to play like I played,” Hardaway Sr. said on MSG Network's “The Game 365: The Hardaways." “I wanted him to take the game seriously -- not saying that he didn’t -- but I wanted him to do more."
At one point, Hardaway Sr.’s criticisms were wearing on everyone in the house.
“My mom would get upset with him for arguing with me, my sisters would cry,” Hardaway Jr. said on MSG.
Hardaway Sr. recognizes that he put too much pressure on his son.
"I was tearing up the family and I wasn’t having fun," he said. "I wanted him to enjoy the game of basketball and what I was doing, I wasn’t letting him enjoy it and I wasn’t enjoying it either.”
One day during Hardaway Jr.’s junior year in high school, things changed.
Hardaway Sr. started to let go a little bit, become more of a dad and less of a drill sergeant.
“He saw me play and saw me do everything I could do to help my team win and also everything he asked me to do out there on the court,” Hardaway Jr. said. “So he just apologized after and said, 'I was breaking the family up and it was my fault. You're doing everything I told you to do. And keep doing your thing and have fun.”
“I had to really check my ego at the door,” Hardaway Sr. said. “I had to really look at myself in the mirror. And one day ... I said ‘I’m sorry, I’ve been too hard on you.’ It helped us out as a family.”
It also helped Hardaway Jr. on the court.
He established himself as one of the top college players in the country last season at Michigan. The Knicks selected him with the 24th pick in the 2013 draft.
So far, he’s made the New York's front office and scouting department look pretty smart.
Entering play Saturday, Hardaway Jr. was second among rookies in scoring per 48 minutes (22.1 points), second in field-goal percentage (47 percent) and first in 3-point field goal percentage (41.6 percent).
During the Knicks’ four-game winning streak, Hardaway Jr. put up 18.3 points per game on 57 percent shooting. He had a career-high 29 points Thursday against Cleveland.
So it seems to be a pretty good time for Hardaway Jr. to face his dad's Heat, who are in town Saturday.
Hardaway Sr. currently works as a scout for Miami. It’s unclear if he’ll be in town for the game.
But, no matter where he is, he’ll be watching his son with the admiration of a proud father.
“He’s trusted me throughout the years now,” Hardaway Jr. said. “He’s done a better job being a father figure and being a coach and I commend him for that.”
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