Posted August 26, 2013

Remembering Tracy McGrady’s career

Ben Golliver, Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic, Toronto Raptors, Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter


(Fernando Medina/Getty Images)

Tracy McGrady had some monster individual seasons with the Magic. (Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)

McGrady’s decision amounted to ditching the Raptors to head back to his home state of Florida, as he received a six-year, $67.5 million max contract as part of a sign-and-trade deal between Toronto and Orlando. He wasted no time with the Magic getting acclimated with the role of franchise player, and all the luxury and glory that come with it.

Phil Taylor; July 24, 2000

The Magic has made so much progress in the past two weeks that it’s getting ahead of itself. One week after five-time All-Star Grant Hill announced he would sign with Orlando for a reported $67.5 million over six years, the maximum allowable, forward Tracy McGrady declared his intention to sign a similar deal with the Magic. McGrady, 21, a Florida native, said he was happy because “not too many superstars get a chance to play at home.” That statement requires a 20-second timeout. McGrady, who averaged 15.4 points for the Raptors last season, may have been one of the coveted prizes in this year’s free-agent sweepstakes, but he isn’t a superstar yet. It would be just as premature to consider Orlando a championship-caliber team.

Ian Thomsen; Oct. 30, 2000

Payne Stewart’s old house belongs to a 21-year-old Orlando Magic swingman who has never gone to college, never made an NBA All-Star team, never won a playoff game, never even been in a starting lineup for an entire season. He grew up in a three-bedroom house with his mother and grandmother just 40 minutes southwest of Orlando, in Auburndale, Fla. Only four years ago, as a junior at Auburndale High, he was suspended from the basketball team for mouthing off to a teacher.

“It’s blind faith,” concedes coach Doc Rivers of the Magic’s decision last summer to pay the 6’8″, 210-pound McGrady $93 million over seven years. “If he begins to meet his potential in a year or two, we can be a great basketball team. We think he can be a scoring version of Scottie Pippen—and Scottie is a pretty good scorer.”

Ian Thomsen; March 5, 2001

“You can argue that we’re the only team doing well with only one All-Star,” says Orlando coach Doc Rivers. “Then you look at him—at age 21 he’s carrying the burden for the sixth-youngest team in the league.” Being young and supremely talented is not as easy as McGrady makes it look, Rivers adds: “His body is still maturing. That’s why he sleeps so much. You turn off the lights for a film session, and he’s out.”

Almost overnight the Big Sleep (as his teammates call McGrady) has emerged as “one of the top five talents in the league,” according to Bucks general manager Ernie Grunfeld. After serving as a complement to Vince Carter for the last two years with the Raptors, McGrady seemed destined to play a similar role for Hill this season. “I thought he was going to be like Scottie Pippen,” says Rivers. “But Tracy scores too much. I don’t try to compare him to somebody now.”

Although McGrady’s individual play was breathtaking, the Magic never delivered on their potential because Grant Hill played a total of only 47 games over McGrady’s four years in Orlando.

Ian Thomsen; Feb. 17, 2003

Because McGrady and Grant Hill take up roughly half of Orlando’s cap space, the team doesn’t have the flexibility to acquire a major inside player. McGrady knows that the Magic’s prospects hinge on Hill’s left ankle, which has been operated on three times over the last three seasons—and, according to McGrady, will probably soon go under the knife a fourth time. Last week G.M. John Gabriel said that Hill will rest his ankle for at least another month, after which doctors may perform “minor” surgery to alleviate what they believe is tendinitis.

“I don’t know how Grant can come back,” McGrady says. “But he’s fighting, and I’m not giving up on him. I know a lot of people who would have hung it up already if they were in his position.”

The only benefit of Hill’s absence is that it has accelerated McGrady’s development. “He reminds me of a young Julius Erving in a lot of ways—his length, his athleticism,” says 76ers coach Larry Brown, who will coach McGrady on the Olympic team over the next two summers. “There’s nothing he can’t do.” With a league-leading 30.4 points per game, T-Mac is on his way to becoming the youngest player to average 30 points since Bob McAdoo in 1974-75. “It’s not what I want to do,” he says of his increased offensive output, “but I feel like I’ve got to score a lot for my team to be in games.”

Jack McCallum; April 28, 2003

McGrady is not much for false modesty. He knows how good he’s been this season and made his MVP choice clear. “KG has another All-Star, Wally Szczerbiak,” McGrady said before Game 1. “Tim [Duncan] and Kobe are dominant players on dominant teams—they could win it every year. But with what I accomplished individually and for my team, I think I deserve it.”

McGrady never garnered that recognition, but he did make the All-NBA first team in 2002 and ’03. Before the Magic won a single playoff series in the McGrady era, he was traded to the Rockets in 2004 on the heels of a 21-61 season that saw the firing of coach Doc Rivers and reports of friction between McGrady and new GM John Weisbrod. McGrady, now 25, was packaged with Juwan Howard, Tyronn Lue and Reece Gaines for Steve Francis, Cuttino Mobley and Kelvin Cato.


Toronto Star also had a good article yesterday about the prevailing attitude at the time that players need "their OWN team," which is why Tracy left such a promising situation in Toronto. So sad and short-sighted.


One of the best ever, if not for injuries and a series of unfortunate events that ultimately derailed his career. If Hill haven't gotten sidelined most of his time in Orlando, the 1-2 scoring punch of McGrady and Hill should have sent shivers down opposing player's spine.


Thanks for the memories, TMAC.  You are one of my favorites.


Eh, McGrady was a great scorer who couldn't lead a team ala Dominique Wilkins & Vince Carter, hey!

What this article didn't mention was that McGrady badly outplayed Kobe in the McDonald's HS game & many people , including David Aldridge, suggested that Kobe made a mistake going into the league so early. OOPS


T-Mac other than always looking like he just woke up,  I will remember him as a gutless coward who was not man enough to tell the Raptors he was going to Orlando when everyone knew but he refused to confirm it setting the franchise years back.  Season end T-Mac snuck out of town like a thief in the night to be the man of a franchise and when it came time to lift Orlando on his shoulders he quickly remembered he was a boy trying to do mans works.  After countless failed seasons in Orlando Tracy once again ran away like a little school girl to Houston. Good riddance i say he was done years ago, it took him long enough to realized it.  
 T-Mac's career is a perfect example of how great Lebron is,  taking a crappy Cavs team to the Finals while Tracy could not win one playoff series in a 16 year NBA career.


As a Raps fan, I'll always be fond of T-Mac. Though Vince was my favorite player, T-Mac always seemed to be the better overall player -- even back then. His defense was very good for a young guy, and could have been a lot more dominant if he did play that sidekick role with Vince (or Grant Hill) into his prime. I once remember T-Mac getting called for goaltending because he palmed the ball off of an opponent's jumpshot. The replay showed that it was a clean block, but the ref just couldn't believe someone could be so athletic as to palm the ball on it's way up.

I wish you stayed in TO, T-Mac. It seems like you got cursed a little bit since leaving, but Canada still loves you.