Hardaway and Rock in a Lil’ Penny Reunion

It is hard to explain to younger basketball fans, but from 1994 to 1998, Penny Hardaway was a star so famous and so talented that he was rivaling Michael Jordan in popularity. Even harder is explaining that Hardaway’s Nike ads featured a rude puppet alter ego voiced by Chris Rock, one of the biggest names in comedy.

And just try convincing them that at the time, Hardaway was by far the more famous person in that duo.

In many ways Hardaway was LeBron James before James was. He was a tall point guard who had an uncanny ability to score, pass and rebound. He had seemingly established himself as Jordan’s successor in commercials and on the court before a series of injuries turned him from a superstar into a role player.

The two men responsible for Lil’ Penny will be reuniting for the first time Thursday, when Rock is a guest on the Bottom Line Sports Show, an Internet radio show that Hardaway executive produces and occasionally appears on alongside the show’s regular host and founder, Gerald Brown.

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