Rap star Jermaine Cole, better known as J Cole, may not have landed a contract with any NBA team, but he proved that he can ball. He is currently playing pro ball for the Canadian Elite Basketball League team Scarborough Shooting Stars following his debut in Basketball Africa League last year.
As a backcourt player, Cole grew up watching versatile combo guards in the NBA, but the one he admired the most was former Orlando Magic star Penny Hardaway.
J Cole is a huge Penny fan
Like many other NBA fans, Cole had high hopes of becoming just like Hardaway one day. And even though we don’t see any shade of Penny in his game, Cole, even to this day, can spot an authentic Penny Hardaway move when he sees one.
“To say somebody influenced my game is a little stretch, but I was a big Penny Hardaway fan which is crazy because I still go back and watch his highlights all the time,” Cole told Hip Hop DX last year. “It’s funny to see that move, that spin step back that Andrew Wiggins did is like now dudes are putting it in their bag… I remember for years watching that highlight from being in college and just going back and being like ‘yo this move is like an alien move,’ and now dudes are doing it in 2021.”
Penny was unreal
Back in the 90s, there were not a lot of players who could function as a point guard and a shooting guard while being the best of both worlds. Penny was an exception. In fact, Hardaway’s former Magic co-star Shaquille O’Neal once made a bold comment about Penny’s overall game that would surely give modern-day fans an idea about the superstar in question.
“Penny was LeBron and Kobe before LeBron and Kobe. At times, he played like LeBron getting everybody involved, and at times he took over the game like Kobe,” Shaq said of Penny.
It may be a bit biased to some, but ultimately, O’Neal was right as Hardaway, in his peak form, made all four of his teammates on the floor better with his playmaking. On the other hand, he also dropped 20 to 30 points on a regular basis. In terms of moves, Penny was arguably the epitome of the shake-and-bake and those smooth crossover-spin-step-back plays we often see today.
If we missed a remarkable thing in a prime Penny’s arsenal, rest assured that J Cole will remind us.