I love Milwaukee. But there’s always one memory I have of that city that ain’t so fond: When Ric Bucher beat me on a story back in 1996, that Tim Hardaway wanted a trade from the Golden State Warriors.
Hardaway had missed the previous season after tearing a ligament in his leg. When he left, Don Nelson was the head coach. After a disastrous 1994-95, Nelson was fired. The Warriors were at the beginning of a massive playoff drought; they just didn’t know it yet. Neither did the fans.
When Hardaway came back in 1995-96, he found himself playing for Rick Adelman, who’d been hired in the wake a nightmare season.
The Warriors also had made player moves that offseason. They acquired point guard B.J. Armstrong, who had been selected in that year’s expansion draft by the Raptors. I’m sure their thinking was sound: “Let’s bring in Armstrong as insurance to either backup Hardaway or to allow us to ease Hardaway back.”
It was all bad. Hardaway found himself playing behind Armstrong that year. The Warriors, of course, thought Hardaway hadn’t all together returned from his devastating injury the year before. They also thought he wasn’t in very good shape. Armstrong was always in very good shape.
Hardaway clearly found himself in a strange situation. Run TMC was ancient history, and one of his biggest advocates, Nelson, was gone. He thought he was getting hosed and he wanted out. He picked Milwaukee to make that known.
Warriors had just lost to the Bucks. It was January. Bucher had a few years under his belt at the San Jose Mercury News. He’d broken a bunch of big stories around the Warriors involving Chris Webber and Nelson, etc. I was new on the beat at the Contra Costa Times, just learning the ropes.
But there I was. Adelman was delivering his postgame press conference in a hallway at the old Bradley Center. Adelman was against a wall and all the reporters were pretty close, though not smothering.
Hardaway walked up to Adelman, whispered something in his ear, then continued on his way down the hallway toward the team bus. Hardaway got a little bit past Adelman and turned up another corridor.
When Hardaway got out of sight, Bucher calmly but purposely walked in his direction. I was in a tough spot. Couldn’t really follow Bucher on his way toward Hardaway, although I guess I could have if I wanted to or thought about it.
Adelman finished up his postgame, and I made a futile attempt toward Hardaway. When I turned the corner, I heard and saw the door slam, with Bucher on my side and Hardaway on the other. I couldn’t go beyond that door as it was the team bus area.
I knew something was coming, I just didn’t know what. I wrote the best story I could, and wrote that Hardaway had said something to Adelman, perhaps adding to their growing friction. Not bad.
Bucher had: “Tim Hardaway demands trade from Golden State.” As I sometimes like to say: Nite, nite.