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Memphis’ Hardaway won’t pursue Magic vacancy

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Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway announced Tuesday night he would remain with the Tigers instead of pursuing the Orlando Magic head-coaching vacancy.

Hardaway reportedly interviewed last week with the Magic, who announced earlier this month that Steve Clifford would not return as head coach.

“One day, in the future, I would love to coach in the NBA, and wouldn’t it be great if it were the Orlando Magic?” Hardaway said in an Instagram video. “But today isn’t that day.”

Hardaway spent the first six seasons of his playing career with the Magic, making four NBA All-Star Game appearances and garnering two All-NBA First Team selections. He also helped lead the Magic to the 1995 NBA Finals, where they lost to the Houston Rockets.

A Memphis native who played his college ball for the Tigers, Hardaway has been the head coach at Memphis for three seasons. He is 63-32 since taking over and led Memphis to an NIT Championship last season.

“Today I’m here with my players, with the fans, with the city, working as hard as I can to try and bring us a national championship, and that’s what I set out to do, and that’s what I want to do,” Hardaway said in the video. “So for all the fans that have rocked out with us, cheered with us, that are rocking with us, through wins and losses, cheering us on, fighting for us and staying loyal, thank you so much.

“And I’m doing the same thing. I’m going to be here. I don’t want you guys to be afraid that I’m going anywhere.”

Hardaway brought in the nation’s No. 1-ranked recruiting class in 2019, but it hasn’t translated to an NCAA tournament appearance during his three seasons at Memphis. The Tigers should be in the hunt for a bid this season, however, and they’re also in the mix for the nation’s top two prospects — Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren — both of whom could potentially reclassify and suit up in college this fall.


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