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Tracy McGrady: A tribute to T-Mac

Sai Krishnan
ANALYST
Feature
08 Sep 2013, 00:23 IST

Tracy McGrady reached the NBA Finals with the San Antonio Spurs last season (Getty Images)

Tracy McGrady has done his rounds around the NBA, playing for Toronto, Orlando, Houston, New York, Detroit, Atlanta and lastly, San Antonio. He even played for the Qingdao Eagles of China, during the 2012-13 season. McGrady was ranked #75 on SLAM Magazine’s “Top 75 Players of All-Time” in 2003.

He was the 9th pick in the first round of the 1997 draft, being picked up by Toronto. McGrady came to the NBA straight from High School.

“I thank all of you who have supported me over 16 NBA seasons, seven All-Stars, and countless exciting moments. Retiring from NBA. Stay tuned.”, McGrady wrote on Twitter.

McGrady won 2 back-to-back scoring titles in ’02-’03 and ’03-’04 with the Orlando Magic. He finished his career with 19.6 points per game, 5.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists. When he retired, he was 10th among active players in points, with 18,381. Although these are no game changing stats, they hardly depict the impact McGrady had on the game.

He was an effortless scorer, making it to seven all-NBA teams, from 2001-2008. His best years would probably be those he spent with the Magic. He averaged 28.1 points, 7  rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.5 steals with them. He also led the Player Efficiency Rating (PER) in the ’02-’03 season. PER is widely believed to be the most accurate measure of a player’s skill.

His style of play was very distinctive. He was never the conspicuous player on the court. Everything seemed natural to him. At 6’8″, he was definitely tall. However, his ball-handling abilities were exceptional, even for a player more than a foot shorter than him. Everything seemed so easy, that it seemed very odd that the wins and titles didn’t follow. He was one of the classic, “talent doesn’t always win” cases.

There have been many takes on why he did not garner the number of accolades a player of his potential should have received. His injuries and mediocre team-mates are the most often repeated ones. T-Mac has never played an entire 82 game NBA season in his 16 year long career.

In the ’05-’06 season, McGrady complained about back spasms and missed eight games because of injury. The spasms worsened and he was carried off the court against the Denver Nuggets. He missed 5 more games due to the re-occurring injury. During the ’06-’07 season, the back spasms returned and prevented him from playing 7 games at the start of the season. He was never able to play to his full potential even after returning from the injury. Yao Ming’s injury just made matters worse for the Rockets. During the ’07-’08 season, T-Mac injured his elbow, ankle, left knee and left shoulder. Surgery was followed by 3 months of recovery. In the 2008-09 season, he went down with an even more serious knee injury. More injuries followed and McGrady played just 6 games 30 games during the ’09-’10 season.

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