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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Bryan Kalbrosky

Tim Hardaway Jr. dismisses his father’s harsh criticism of Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving

It hasn’t been an easy month or so for the Dallas Mavericks.

While they got a much-needed win against the Kings on Wednesday, they’ve fallen so far down the standings that there were rumors that the organization was considering shutting down Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving for the rest of the season.

This would have given Dallas a chance to keep their top-10 protected pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. Otherwise, it is owed to the New York Knicks as part of the trade to acquire former Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis.

One person who shared his thoughts on why everything has gone wrong for Dallas of late is five-time NBA All-Star guard Tim Hardaway. His son, Tim Hardaway Jr., plays for the Mavericks.

Here is what the elder Hardaway said (via The Carton Show):

“It’s not Kyrie’s fault. Everybody wants to put it on Kyrie Irving. It’s not Kyrie’s fault. Kyrie came to a situation where they thought he was going to be the savior or take them to the promised land or to the next level and he hasn’t … They’re missing a leader out there. Luka is not a leader. Kyrie isn’t a leader. Jalen Brunson was a leader.”

Hardaway Sr. said that a leader instills confidence in your team and makes sure that everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing.

He added that leaders play defense and always stick to their word, noting that both Irving and Doncic are “great scorers” but not leaders.

Hardaway Jr., however, spoke to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon and Dallas Morning News reporter Callie Caplan about the comments from his father. Here is what he said:

“I didn’t wake up this morning thinking that I had to focus in on this topic, but it is my dad. I love him dearly. He’s been in the league for so many years now, so just for him to say that, I disagree with it 1000%. I’ve come out numerous times and told you all how much leadership Luka has shown throughought my whole entire time 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.”

Doncic has evolved as a leader during his time in the NBA, but Hardaway Jr. also added that Irving is a leader in the locker room for Dallas as well.

“Kyrie has been nothing [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 good, everybody’s holding together, staying strong. Nothing but leadership there … I love those guys. I love my teammates.”

Dallas rookie Jaden Hardy shared similar thoughts about Irving earlier this month (via

“[He wants] to know everybody and he tells everyone to speak up. When we are together as a team, like in the locker room, and things are not going well, he tends to speak up and let it be known how he’s feeling. So, I mean, a lot of guys respect that, you know what I’m saying? I feel like he’s done a great job ever since he’s been here, just like being a leader.”

The 31-year-old Dallas wing said it was “disappointing” that he had to come out and say this, but he acknowledged that his dad made a mistake.

He emphasized that what we heard was his father’s opinion and not his and he reminded us that they’re different human beings.

This is a nice reminder that just because a relative spoke about something related to the team does not mean it reflects the views of the individual who actually plays for the organization.

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