In response to Tim Hardaway Sr.'s criticism of Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving, their Mavericks teammate, Tim Hardaway Jr., has defended them. Mar 7, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (2) and Dallas Mavericks forward Tim Hardaway Jr. (11) and Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) react during the fourth quarter against the Utah Jazz at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks decision to trade for Kyrie Irving has not gone well. The Mavericks were in playoff position at the time of the trade and now, with only two games left, sit outside of play-in tournament position.

With the team’s downfall, Irving and fellow star, Luka Dončić, have taken on a lot of criticism. Is that warranted? There’s a difference of opinion.

Tim Hardaway Sr., the Basketball Hall of Famer and five-time All-Star and his son, Tim Hardaway Jr. — who’s currently on the Mavericks — have differing opinions.

Hardaway Sr. was on The Carton Show and was critical of the trade, on Wednesday noting that the Mavericks took a significant defensive hit with the loss of Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith. He also bluntly questioned the leadership of both, saying “Luka is not a leader. Kyrie is not a leader.

Hardaway Jr. disagreed. In a statement released by Tim MacMahon of ESPN, Hardaway Jr. praised the leadership of both players.

“I’ve come out numerous of times and told you how much leadership Luka has shown throughout my whole entire team here in Dallas. He shows it on and off the floor, and a lot of the situations that we’ve been in as a team, we wouldn’t be in without him. So let’s just set that straight.”

He then shifted his attention to Irving.

“And Kyrie ha been nothing but [other] than a leader since he’s been here — making sure that everybody’s good on and off the floor, texting everybody in our group in the player-only just to make sure everybody’s holding together, staying strong. Nothing but leadership there.”

Several in the NBA world supported the younger Hardaway.

Hardaway Sr. is certainly entitled to his opinions and there’s some validity to at least part of what he said. But with his son on the team, any criticism Hardaway Jr. makes of the team’s star players will no doubt trickle down to his son. It’s akin to Andy Van Slyke’s criticisms of Yasiel Puig when his son, Scott Van Slyke, was Puig’s teammate with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

That said, Hardaway Jr.’s response was solid. He did as well as could be expected.

[Tim MacMahon]

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