Penny Hardaway: James Wiseman lacks the ‘meanness’ Shaq had
James Wiseman is a new, emerging big man in the NBA and looking to find his place in the league. Wiseman was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 Draft by the Golden State Warriors. In seven games this season, he is averaging 11.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
Wiseman is very close to Penny Hardaway, who coached him in high school and then briefly at Memphis before Wiseman was ruled ineligible by the NCAA. Hardaway was a four-time NBA All-Star and teamed with Shaq in the early ’90s to form a dynamic duo on the Orlando Magic.
Since Hardaway is so familiar with both men, The Athletic interviewed him and asked Penny to compare them. Hardaway was asked whether the two were similar and said no. Wiseman doesn’t have the same “meanness” Shaq had, according to Hardaway.
“He doesn’t have the meanness that Shaq had all the time. Shaq had a chip. Shaq always had a plan. And Shaq always knew he was the best. James carries that chip now. But Shaq always knew he was the chosen one. Shaq came from a different path. He had a military base stepfather. That military background helped Shaq be tougher. James was raised with women. He had his mom and his sister. They kind of babied him and spoiled him, not in a bad way. They were firm. But it wasn’t the same,” Hardaway said (full interview here).
Wiseman knows that he didn’t have that physical toughness, which is why Hardaway wanted to coach him at a public high school in Memphis. That’s when Wiseman began toughening up physically, to complement his mental toughness.
Shaq enjoys advertising his place among big men and putting others down. In this case, he won’t have to because Hardaway set things straight.