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In Hardaway’s eyes, his reputation in Orlando never fully recovered from the dark cloud of Hill’s firing. He was accused of leading the team’s mutiny against Hill.
“He was the captain at the time. But there was 16 guys in the room that voted, it wasn’t just Penny Hardaway,” said Nick Anderson, a friend and former teammate of Hardaway’s. “But everything came down on him because he was the captain. That was totally unfair.
Anderson said Hardaway was always someone who cared deeply about others’ opinions of him. So he struggled to accept the public’s negative reaction.
“Everytime I went back to Orlando they booed me pretty much off the Brian Hill situation,” Hardaway said. “I tried to reach out to Brian Hill and he would never return my calls and I thought that was pretty odd because all I wanted to do was explain to him. I never got a chance to talk to him personally about it. And I had to deal with it.”
But in some ways, Hardaway never came back. [...]
“I’ve moved on from it, but there isn’t any closure because I haven’t spoken to Mr. [Rich] DeVos or Bob Vander Weide and they knew what kind of guy I was,” Hardaway said. “I just would really love to speak to those guys. I’ve told [current GM] Otis Smith this before that it’s not going to be right with the fans until the organization makes it right with the fans.”
Attempts to reach Smith for a response were unsuccessful as he was on a scheduled vacation. [Pat] Williams said no one in the Magic organization holds a grudge.