Memphis basketball coach Penny Hardaway, with the key he wears on a chain around his neck ever visible, was unflinchingly confident.
In the narrow corridor outside the visitors’ locker room at Houston’s Fertitta Center after last week’s 72-64 loss to the top-ranked Cougars, Hardaway shot down any notion that he and the Tigers lacked confidence, even if they were missing Kendric Davis, possibly the best player in the AAC.
“We always believe,” he said. “That’s something you just can’t take from us. We’re gonna believe, in any game that we go in, that we can win. No matter who the team is we’re playing. We don’t really worry about the outside noise.”
The key, nor his staunch resolve, isn’t exactly something new for Hardaway.
The Tigers’ coach first wore the gameday fashion accessory throughout his first season as the Tigers’ coach in 2018-19. Then, it stayed in his locker for three years. But not long before this season got underway, Hardaway came across the key and decided it was time to break it back out.
The significance of the matte black key, which hangs from a ball chain?
It is inscribed with the word “Believe” and is made by a Los Angeles-based company called The Giving Keys. On its website, the company states, “You’re encouraged to embrace your word then pass it on, ‘paying it forward’ to someone you feel needs the message more than you.”
Hardaway isn’t the only Tiger who wears one.