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Tim Hardaway Sr. not surprised at all how well his son has done

Tim Hardaway Jr. (5) gestures after making a

Tim Hardaway Jr. (5) gestures after making a shot during the second half of a preseason game against the Boston Celtics in Providence, R.I. (Oct. 9, 2013) Credit: AP

NEW ORLEANS -- Tim Hardaway Sr. knew the time would come for his son, but he thought it would be sooner.

Tim Hardaway Jr. was a good college player at Michigan, but he's been one of the best rookies in the NBA this season and one of the few bright spots for the Knicks. Some may be surprised. Tim Hardaway Sr. is not.

"Very proud of him," he said. "I knew this all along. A lot of people say I'm biased, that's my son, whatever. I know basketball. I've played this game a long time. I've evaluated it all my life. I know what players can do.

"He's a talented ballplayer. He can shoot better than I can. He knows how to play the game. He understands how to play the game. I wanted it to happen in college. It's happening now so you all can see it now. I'm happy for him."

Hardaway Sr., a finalist for the Basketball Hall of Fame and a great shooter and scorer himself, said the NBA's fast-paced play has allowed his son to show his talents more.

Tim Jr. -- who teamed with his dad and WNBA player Elena Delle Donne in the Shooting Stars Challenge Saturday night and lost to eventual champions Chris Bosh, Dominique Wilkins and Swin Cash -- entered the All-Star break fourth in scoring among rookies (9.2 points) and second in three-point accuracy (38.5 percent).

He displayed his shooting touch in the Rising Stars Challenge Friday night, hitting seven three-pointers and scoring 36 points. "I loved it," Carmelo Anthony said. "He put his stamp on the weekend."

The emergence of Hardaway, 21, who was taken 24th in last year's draft, has contributed to Iman Shumpert's availability in trades. Hardaway looks as if he can be a big part of the Knicks' future.

"He's growing up a little bit in front of us," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said recently. "It's kind of nice to see. I can't say it loud enough: He's ahead of the curve in terms of rookies. If he keeps his head on straight, which I don't see being a problem, he'll continue to grow at a faster pace probably than most rookies."

Hardaway has been around NBA games his entire life and has faced NBA players since he was a teenager. He's very mature, rarely gets rattled and is extremely confident.

"I think that comes with just playing in the offseason with my dad and the NBA guys that come to Miami to play in the open gym," he said. "I have the opportunity to learn from them and play against them at the same time. I guess just the confidence just playing with them over the summer when I was in high school and college kind of prepared me. Just from my dad being an NBA guy and playing at this level for many years now and watching him play really gave me an idea and a sense of urgency of what I needed to do and what I should be able to do when I'm out there on the court."

Hardaway is aware that he has to improve his strength and his defense, knowing that will allow him to help the team when his shots aren't falling.

"It's a big motivation," he said. "It's just the will, just wanting to go out there and perform and help the team win. I'm just trying to do whatever I can to prepare for the better of myself and the team."


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