He first came under fire when Memphis News writer Jason Munz shared Hardaway’s response to a question about his team’s latest performance, during which the Memphis Tigers lost their third consecutive game.
Penny asked if he’s ever lost faith that he can get the job done: “This media gets f***ed up sometimes when it comes to me. Stop asking me stupid, f***ing questions.”
— Jason Munz (@munzly) January 21, 2022
Video of Hardaway’s outburst quickly made its way online, drawing praise, jokes and criticism from fans and sports professionals alike. ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith was particularly critical of the coach’s behavior.
“You cannot be a black man in that position and lose your cool the way you did,” Smith said when asked about the incident on First Take.
While he did not address the reporter who sparked his outburst, nor the media in general, Hardaway issued an apology to his team and his fans via Instagram on Saturday.
“I bleed blue and I’m fighting always for my school, for my city and for my players,” he said. “We know there is adversity right now but it’s not going to stop us from working hard. We are going to make you guys proud, we’re going to win and we are going to get through this together … to my players, let’s keep fighting on.
Hardaway, who graduated from Memphis in 1993, has been coaching at his alma mater since 2018. While the team appears to be struggling now, the Memphis Tigers took home the 2021 NIT Championship.
It was their second trip to the NIT with Hardaway as their head coach.
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