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Miami Heat Player Countdown: 6. Tim Hardaway

In Chapter 63 of our offseason long countdown of every HEAT player ever, we go over the career contributions of five-time all-star, ball-handling and sharp-shooting wizard Tim Hardaway.

Tim Hardaway, known also as "The Bug," was a 6' point guard from Chicago, IL. Born on September 1st, 1966, he played high school ball for Carver high in Chicago and college hoops with the University of Texas El Paso. He played four seasons, and as a senior scored 22 points with four rebounds and 5.4 assists per game. The Golden state Warriors selected him in the first round of the 1989 draft with the 14th overall pick.

Hardaway, author of a near-legendary crossover dribble, spent his first six and a half seasons in the Warriors organization (including a year lost to injury). He made three all-star teams, and averaged 19.8 points and 9.3 assists per contest, ranking 10th on Golden State's all time leaderboard with 8,337 points, second with 3,926 assists, and third with 821 steals. On February 22nd, 1996, the Warriors traded him to the Heat with Chris Gatling for Bimbo Coles and Kevin Willis.

In 28 games for Miami at point guard to close out the 1995-96 season, Hardaway averaged 17.2 points, 10 assists, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.1 steals per game. He shot 42.5% from the floor, with a 36.1% success rate from downtown in 37.4 minutes per game. Miami went 17-11 in his appearances, and saw him finish in double figures 25 times with 15 double doubles. Six days after the trade, he scored 22 points with 13 assists in a 116-112 loss to the Orlando Magic. On March 16th, he scored 28 points with 15 assists and eight rebounds, as the Heat defeated the Houston Rockets, 121-97. He scored 17 points with 19 assists on April 19th, in a 106-100 win against the Milwaukee Bucks. Miami finshed at 42-40, but lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Chicago Bulls in three games. Hardaway totaled 53 points with 17 assists.

Hardaway made his return to the all-star game in 1996-97, scoring a team best 20.3 points on 41.5% shooting in 38.7 minutes per game. He started 81 games and shot 34.4% from outside, leading the Heat with 8.6 assists (NBA seventh) and 1.9 steals per contest. Miami went 61-21 through the season, collecting 25 double doubles and finishing with 10 or more points 74 times. In a 95-94 win against the Milwaukee Bucks on December 29th, he played all 48 minutes, scoring 36 points with eight assists and three steals. On February 11th, he shot 11-for-17 for 31 points and 10 helpers with three steals as the Heat beat the Detroit Pistons, 104-91. He scored 28 points with 16 assists and four rebounds on March 4th in another win against Detroit, 108-99. Three days later, he shot 13-for-25 with six three pointers, scoring 45 points with seven rebounds, seven assists, and four rebounds in a 108-105 win over the Washington Bullets. The Heat eliminated the Orlando Magic in five games and the New York Knicks in seven before losing to the Chicago Bulls in five. Hardaway's best game came in Miami's game seven win over the Knicks, when he scored 38 points with seven assists, five steals and three rebounds.

1997-98 would see Hardaway start 81 times and make his fifth all-star team. He played 37.4 minutes per game, scoring 18.9 points (team second), leading the team with 8.3 assists (NBA sixth) and 1.7 steals. He shot 43.1% from the field, and 35.1% from three point distance. He had 35 double doubles and failed to reach double figures just four times. In a 122-113 win against the Los Angeles Clippers on November 19th, he went 13-for-20 from the field, including four-of-six from deep, scoring 33 points with 11 assists and three steals. He scored 28 points with 10 assists and five steals on December 12th as the Heat lost to the Indiana Pacers, 104-89. He almost got a triple double the hard way on December 20th, when he scored 18 point with 13 assists and eight steals with six rebounds in a 99-92 Heat win over the Atlanta Hawks. Miami lost to the Knicks in five games in the opening round, despite Hardaway's 26 points per game. He also totaled 33 assists, 17 rebounds, and six steals.

In 1998-99, Hardaway started 48 times, playing 36.9 minutes per game and shooting 40% from the field with a 36% success rate from three-point distance. He scored 17.4 points (team second) with a team leading 7.3 helpers and 1.3 steals per game. Miami went 33-17 on the season, and saw Hardaway finish with 43 instances of 10 or more points. On February 8th, he scored a season high 32 points with six assists in a loss to the Charlotte Hornets, 94-91. He scored 27 points wtih nine assists, six rebounds and four steals three nights later as the Heat defeated the Toronto Raptors, 102-84. In a 91-80 win over the Pistons on February 17th, he scored 29 points with nine assists and seven rebounds. He scored 26 points with 10 assists on March 5th (one of five double doubles on the season) in an 89-78 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. The Knicks eliminated the Heat in five games to open the postseason. Hardaway scored a mere nine points with 6.4 assists per game.

Hardaway started 52 times for Miami in 1999-00, playing 32.2 minutes and shooting 38.6% overall and 36.7% from long distance. He scored a then-career low 13.4 points (team third) with a team best 7.4 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game. The Heat went 35-17 with Hardaway in the rotation. He collected nine double doubles and scored more than nine points 37 times. In the Heat season opener on November 2nd, he scored a season high 32 points with five assists and five rebounds in a victory over Detroit, 128-122. A week later, in a 113-101 win over the Pacers, he scored 19 with 14 assists and five rebounds. On February 20th, he scored 23 points, including a six-for-eight night from deep with 12 assists and four rebounds. Miami's 52-30 overall record clinched them a second seed in the East, before sweeping the Pistons and losing in seven games to the Knicks in the Conference Semifinals. For his part, Hardaway played in seven contests, totaling 54 points with 33 assists on a 29.4% field goal success rate.

2000-01 would be Hardaway's last season with the Heat. He scored 14.9 points (team fourth) per night with a team leading 6.3 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals (team second). He shot 36.6% from three point distance, hitting 39.2% of his shots overall, playing 33.9 minutes over his 77 starts. He scored in double figures 59 times with six double doubles, leading the Heat to a 46-31 record (and 50-32 overall). In an 84-82 loss to the 76ers on November 4th, he sunk 23 with 11 helpers. He scored 23 wiht six rebounds and five assists on November 28th in a 102-101 loss to the Bucks. On January 6th, in a 112-86 victory against the Celtics, he scored 24 points with 10 assists. Miami took the third seed, but were swept in the first round by the Hornets. Hardaway was a non-factor, totaling five points with nine assists in 36 minutes over two games.

During the 2001 offseason, Hardaway was traded by Miami to the Dallas Mavericks for a draft pick (Matt Freije). After half a season with the Mavs (54 games), he played with the Denver Nuggets (14 games) and the Pacers (10 games). He ranks fifth on Miami's all-time leaderboard with 6,335 points, second with 2,867 assists, and sixth with 541 steals.

All-Time HEATline:
Six seasons, 367 games, 36.2 minutes, 17.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 7.8 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.1 blocks, 18.5 PER, 45.7 win shares.