Tracy McGrady and How Patience and Maturity Can Improve a Legacy

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Tracy McGrady was without a doubt one of the most talented players in the league during his prime.  His peek years were among the highest level of play ever seen by a small forward or shooting guard, but there have always been questions about his maturity and approach to the game.  Some have argued that he was more interested in personal stats than he was in team accomplishments.  As careers go by though, regardless of how impressive one’s statistics might be, critics will offer little love to players who have not seen any degree of team success.  Such has been the case with McGrady.  During his entire career, McGrady failed to get past the first round of the playoffs.  Now, having signed with the San Antonio Spurs at the end of the season, and what may very well be the end of his career, he may finish his career with a championship.  Considering the fact that McGrady has only played 17 minutes this postseason, it is doubtful even a championship will erase his reputation.

 

Tracy McGrady (right) with Vince Carter.  McGrady seems to have forgotten that he played with this All-Star in Toronto.

Tracy McGrady (right) with Vince Carter. McGrady seems to have forgotten that he played with this All-Star in Toronto.

Recently interviewed, McGrady claims that he never played with a fellow All-Star outside of the oft injured Yao Ming.  This is not true though.  In Toronto he played with Vince Carter as well as former and future All-Stars Kevin Willis and Antonio Davis respectively, not to mention 6th Man of the Year award winner Dell Curry, perennial All-Defensive Team representative Doug Christie and NBA enforcer Charles Oakley.  McGrady opted to leave Toronto, who had some great young players, and moved to Orlando.  The following season the Raptors would be within a basket of proceeding to the conference finals after a game-7 loss to the eventual Eastern Conference champion Philadelphia 76ers.  The Magic would go onto suffer three straight first round exists before missing the playoffs altogether, despite being up 3-1 against the Detroit Pistons in 2003.  A lottery appearance went well for Orlando as they obtained the first overall pick, but McGrady demanded the team trade the pick for a veteran player or trade him.  He passed up on the chance to play with Dwight Howard.  In 2009 the Orlando Magic were in the NBA finals, while McGrady was nursing a knee injury as the Houston Rockets actually managed to win their first-round series without McGrady.

 

McGrady (left) and Grant Hill no doubt hoped they would form a dynastic combo like Jordan and Pippen, but injuries did not allow them to reach their potential.

McGrady (left) and Grant Hill no doubt hoped they would form a dynastic combo like Jordan and Pippen, but injuries did not allow them to reach their potential.

It is interesting to examine how well teams fair when McGrady exits.  The Raptor, who lost McGrady to free agency, actually had their best season in franchise history after he left.  The team got better in the absence of McGrady.  The Magic, who only improved by 2 wins in McGrady’s first season, went from 21 wins with McGrady, to 36 wins without him, despite going through a coaching change mid-way through the season.  With McGrady on the floor and home-court advantage, the Rockets lost in six games.  Without both McGrady and home-court advantage, the Rockets actually won the following year.  New York went from 29 wins with McGrady, to 42 wins without him.  It seems that throughout his career, McGrady’s teams have actually performed better without him.

 

 

Yao Ming (left) and McGrady hoped to bring Houston more banners, but whenever one of the two stars wasn't injured, the other one often was.

Yao Ming (left) and McGrady hoped to bring Houston more banners, but whenever one of the two stars wasn’t injured, the other one often was.

McGrady, who now bemoans the fact that he never played with an All-Star, not only has selective memory, but also only has himself to blame for passing up on the opportunity to play with some talented players and teams.  The Raptors were moving forward when he left, whereas the Magic had proved nothing at that point other than the fact that they had a great coach (they were a lottery team when McGrady signed with them, though they admittedly had a promising future with Grant Hill signing as well).  When leaving Orlando, he passed up on the opportunity to play with Dwight Howard, who would prove to be perhaps the best defensive center of his generation and the best rebounder.  McGrady has not missed out on opportunities to play with talented player, he has passed up on opportunities to play with talented players.  He has forced trades, burned bridges, and abandoned winning situations.  He has displayed almost no patience or loyalty throughout his career and whilst on the court has seemed (though this may be an unfair observation) more concerned about how he is performing than how his team is performing.  This is why fans in cities he has abandoned refer to him a Me-Mac instead of T-Mac, or McGreedy instead of McGrady.  There is no doubt McGrady, in his prime, was among the most talented players ever, but there is also little doubt that he lacked the maturity of players like Tim Duncan and Steve Nash and that had he exuded the patience and maturity of his current teammates when he was a burgeoning All-Star, he may have already won a championship or two by now and we may have seen a career that rivaled that of Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan.

 

Trackbacks

  1. […] Tracy McGreedy McGrady, who played 16 season in the NBA, has announced his retirement.  Few players have every played at as high a level as McGrady did during his prime, but a series of injuries  cut short his prime years.  McGrady never managed to get out of the first round until he tagged along with the Spurs for their playoff run this past season.  Though he made 7 All-Star teams and won two scoring titles, McGrady is without a complete resume and has never won a title or an MVP award.  McGrady was drafted by the Toronto Raptors, blossomed as a player with the Magic, but ultimately demanded a trade.  Frequent moves prevented McGrady from building any teams he played for into a contender, but fans seemed to love watching the athletic guard as they once almost managed to vote him into the All-Star game despite the fact that he had not played a game the entire season.  He retires with 18381 career points, 4161 assists and 5276 rebounds. […]

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