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Penny: Stars Make The NBA

Penny Hardaway doesn't believe the NBA labor fight now is all about the majority of the players.

It's about guys like him -- the stars of the league. And he's not afraid to say it.

"The star players are the reason why the league has been so successful," Hardaway said. "Let's face it, fans in Utah don't go to the games to see Bryon Russell and Shandon Anderson play. They come to see Karl Malone and John Stockton. It's the same with most teams."

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    Forum: Do you agree with Hardaway?

  • Although Hardaway played just 19 games last season and only 55 games the season before, he still believes the union should wait for a better offer from the owners before signing an agreement. He doesn't like the idea of putting a cap on how much the stars in the league can make.

    "If the owners don't think we're that important to the league, I would like to see them take all of the star players out of the league and have the other guys play. See how much interest they draw then," he said. "That's just a fact."

    Hardaway has the option to become a free agent in the summer of 1999. Under the owner's proposal, no one in the league can make more than 35 percent of a team's salary cap, effectively ending those $100 million contracts like the ones given to Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning.

    "I'm not gong to try to rank myself, but as far as Shaq and Kevin Garnett's contracts, I think I do more for my team than either of those guys," Hardaway said. "Therefore, I should be worth more."

    Since O'Neal left the Magic in 1996, Hardaway has struggled to carry the Magic. He has been bothered by knee and calf problems, showing only brief flashes of the talents he displayed earlier in his career.

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