Like Penny, It’s the Hard-a-way

pennyrodman

pennyrodman

 

I bet Penny’s sad.

The Spurs signing Tracy McGrady led my brain down a road I wasn’t planning on walking down. As a kid who wore the 2001 TMAC, it would’ve made sense for me to YouTube McGrady’s let’s go ahead and say patented ball off the backboard dunks, or go back and watch his 13 points in 35 seconds game against the Tim Duncan actually has hair version of the Spurs.

But, when I heard the news, for whatever reason, my mind went here.

That was 2010. Three years after he’d clocked his last minute in the league. Penny just wanted to play.

 

 

These commercials will forever remind me of my Dad. I hear him, driving in his green, extended cab Chevy Silverado, doing his best Chris Rock.

There were better Rock impressions in the world, but none more committed.

 

——————–

 

I visited DC for the first time last month. My girlfriend lived there for a few years and still has friends there. One of her friends, a nice girl with an apparent affinity for ice skating while a DJ plays Taio Cruz, was having a birthday party and I got invited to tag along. On Saturday we went to Georgetown and walked around a little, bouncing from Madewell for her to NikeTown for me. The only other store we went in, whose name I hate myself for not remembering, stood out, though.

This was the type of highly specialized store that gets sneakerheads and NiceKicks.com readers’ salivary glands a’salivating. The Nike Air Max Barkley. Georgetown colorway Jordan 1’s. Old Deion Sanders Nike Air Diamond Turfs. Blood maroon Adidas Campus that sent my head spinning. Everything. Then, shining there, unafraid like the glowing green light on the other side of the lake opposite Jay Gatsby’s dock, a pair of Air Penny V’s.

I went to the shelf, grabbed them, and held them up. I ran my eyes over the blue and the black. They’ve aged well. Then I looked at the price tag on the bottom of the shoe. I grimace. My goodness, Nike. I sat them back on the shelf because I have rent to pay, and turned around. One of the staff in a pair of red Vans was looking at me.

“Anything we can help you with?” he asked.

“Nah,” I say, “Just looking. Can’t believe they brought the Penny’s back.”

“I know, right?” he said, “It was a good day when those came in.”

I’m enthralled with the store. It’s like the basketball shoe side of my childhood is coming to meet me and give me a hug and offer me Dunkaroos and invite me in to play Madden ’95 on Sega Genesis while its mom makes us Bagel Bites.

I walk up the back staircase to an area where they’re selling T-shirts and I see it. Hanging on the wall, a black Nike T-shirt with orange lettering that reads: Penny’s No Loafers.

I’ll take it.

Say what you will about his game or his abilities as a broadcaster. When it came to gear, aside from Jordan, Penny took a backseat to no one.

 

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penny-hardaway

 

In some alternate dimension on some other planet that has, I don’t know, a purple sun and flowing Dr. Pepper rivers with talking trees that have speakers in them that bump Paul’s Boutique and Cypress Hill and Long Live the Cane all day, Penny and T-Mac are best friends. Like souls. At one time each of them were touted as the next to take the crown. Nightmares to guard. Tall, primary ball handlers that could affect the game in multiple ways.

Then, as it does, the Injury Monster paid them visits and stayed by them with all the unwavering loyalty of James Garner in The Notebook. I hate myself for that metaphor. Each of them were hated by their respective bodies, and they gave out on them.

McGrady, post injuries, is getting another shot. Penny wanted one and didn’t get it. He’s periodically on NBA TV now, trying to make sense of Dennis Scott.

 

 

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