Q&A: Tim Hardaway Jr. Talks Biggest Role Model, Shmoney Dance & Advice To Rookies

New York’s CitiField in Queens may be home to the baseball-craniumed Mr. Met and its hometown team but on Monday (Aug. 4), a special guest was kicking up dust on the field and off.

Knicks’ sophomore Tim Hardaway Jr. is bringing little rascals from Ridgewood and Flushing’s YMCA branches to boy band-level shrieks at the Mets’ baseball stadium with his mere presence (all 6-foot-5 of him). Just before taking the mic to school the young’uns of the Citi Kids program on determination and throwing out the first pitch for the Mets versus San Francisco Giants game, the son of the NBA’s Killer Crossover (hint: they share the same exact name) discusses his biggest inspiration (second hint: besides his dad), 50 Cent’s viral lob, Brooklyn startup Bobby Shmurda and his advice to the league’s rookies.—Adelle Platon (@adelleplaton)

VIBE: Today, you’re sharing your inspiring story with kids from the YMCA but who is the biggest role model for you?
Tim Hardaway Jr.: Besides my dad, my mom. My mom is so strong. She basically had to raise three kids with my dad on the road, playing. She had to stay dedicated and patient with us. You got three kids running around the house, either crying or she taking them to sports or contests or whatever the case may be, to do all that, that’s why she’s the biggest role model in my life.

You’re also throwing out the first pitch. Did you take any cues from 50 Cent on what not to do?
That’s definitely not gon’ happen today. You won’t have to worry about that. (Laughs) After I saw that on the news and ESPN, it was crazy. Hopefully, it’s easier said than done but it doesn’t look like it.

Speaking of Fif, I saw you in the studio with Stalley recently. Do you usually spend your downtime with rappers?
Nah, not at all. That was probably the first time in my life doing that. He’s just a close friend of [mine] and I like his music. He’s gonna have something real nice coming up real soon so everybody [should] listen to it.

We know you’re a beast on the court but is there any chance you’ll take your talents to the mic?
(Smiles) Never. No. No. Not at all.

Shaq actually wrote a petition to Pharrell to include him on the NBA2K15 soundtrack. Do you think rapping Shaq should get a shot?
Shaq should do whatever he wants. He’s rapped before so yes, I believe why not? He might as well. He can try it out for a little bit and if [Pharrell] doesn’t like it, then you can tell him, no, he doesn’t have to be on it. If [Pharrell] likes it, give him a shot. You never know.

Who are some of the folks invading your playlist at the moment?
[Bobby] Shmurda…

Can you do the Shmoney dance?
Oh yeah, no doubt. [Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, Hardaway denied this writer’s request to Shmoney dance on-camera.] … YG, K Camp. I love Kendrick [Lamar]. I love Jay Z. I love all the guys in the underground that talk the real stuff.

Was Carmelo Anthony coming back home a weight off your shoulders?
Yeah, it was definitely a weight off [the team’s] shoulders and it was great to see him come back home and still be a part of this historical franchise. I mean I can’t see him anywhere else other than New York.

Now, were there any playful jabs at your dad [former Miami Heat star Tim Hardaway] when LeBron James announced his decision to go back to Cleveland?
Nah, my dad knew it was a family decision. He thinks it was the right decision for [LeBron]. A lot of people knew it was gonna happen. Whatever [LeBron’s] happy with, he’s happy with.

With rookies Cleanthony Early and Thanasis Antetokounmpo coming into the fold, what’s your advice to them?
Just listen to your veterans. Don’t talk back because you’re not gonna win. Just be energetic when you’re playing. The city of New York loves the guys that are passionate and want to go out there and win, and have that killer instinct to go out there and do whatever they can to help their team win. They want to see that fight in you and that’s what [the players] have to go out there and show.

Photo Credit: VIBE/ Jason Del Pilar