Penny Hardaway Details How Knee Injuries Derailed His Once Promising Career

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Penny Hardaway is one of the ultimate "what-ifs" in NBA history.

At one point, he was considered the next in line to take control of the league. He was part Magic Johnson because of his size. He was part Michael Jordan because of his scoring.

Hardaway had it all before a left knee injury brought his once promising career to a halt. He spoke about how microfracture surgery signaled the end. He still regrets being one of the first athletes to undergo the new surgery back in 2000

"When I had the microfracture, I knew it was instantly the worst decision I had made in my life," Hardaway said on an appearance on The Point Forward podcast with Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner. "I could just tell I was different. It was taking me so long after the game to get out of the car. I knew then that something wasn't right. I was never the same."

Hardaway went from almost leading the Orlando Magic to a championship while playing alongside Shaquille O'Neal in 1995 to a journeyman. He was playing with the Phoenix Suns at the time of the injury before a few mediocre years with the New York Knicks and ending his career with the Miami Heat in 2008.

"It felt like my left knee got weaker," Hardaway said. "... I could never get strong enough. It never got back as strong as the right. I just knew I wasn't the same but after the microfracture surgery, I knew at that point I was just trying to hold on to something that wasn't there."

Shandel Richardson is the publisher of Back In The Day NBA. He can be reached at

Shandel Richardson


Shandel has covered the NBA since 2010, with previous stops at The Athletic and South Florida Sun-Sentinel.  He has covered six NBA Finals, one Super Bowl, the NCAA basketball tournament. He has also been a beat writer for the Miami Hurricanes and contributed on every major beat in South Florida since 2003, including the Miami Dolphins and Miami Marlins. He can also be read in the Sportsbook Review for gambling coverage from around the NBA. A native of Bloomington, Illinois, Shandel attended Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. He's also worked for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Kansas City Star.  TWITTER: @ShandelRich EMAIL: