Flashback ten years ago, and you will meet a 23 year old rising NBA star, Tracy McGrady. Just 6 years into his NBA career, McGrady was already featured in SLAM Magazine’s “Top 75 Players of All-Time,” and was a human highlight real who posterized defenders, hit clutch shots, and scored at will. Ten years later, Tracy McGrady is a 7 time NBA All-Star, 2 time Scoring Champion, 2 time All-NBA First Team member, and up until April 16, 2013, a member the Chinese Basketball Association’s Qingado Eagles. However, today is a new day for Tracy McGrady, as the San Antonio Spurs made an end of the season free agent pickup to add the 33 year old former super-star to there roster to compete for an NBA championship. Now that McGrady has finally landed on the number 2 seed Spurs, many critics are already asking “will Tracy McGrady rise up to the occasion and get his first NBA tittle, or will his previous injuries come back to haunt him, and send him into permanent retirement?”
To understand why the Spurs made sports headlines across the
world with there acquisition of Tracy McGrady, any reader must understand who
Tracy McGrady is, and what he has accomplished. Coming straight out of high
school, McGrady was selected with the 9th overall pick of the 1997 NBA Draft by
the Toronto Raptors. Playing alongside his third cousin, Vince Carter, McGrady
participated in the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest, averaged 15.4 points per game, and
even lead the Raptors to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
His tenure in Toronto only lasted 3 seasons, as in 2000 the Orlando Magic
traded for McGrady in exchange for a first round pick. Immediately, McGrady
took over the Orlando Magic while earning himself an All-Star selection, his
second playoff appearance, and the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. The
following season McGrady advanced to the playoffs yet again, and even was
selected to his second All-Star game, and first appearance on the All-NBA First
Team. If his progression hasn’t impressed critics yet, McGrady silenced them in
the 2002-2003 season. Besides making the All-NBA First Team and All-Star team
again, McGrady made history by averaging an astonishing 32.1 points per game to
successfully capture the NBA scoring tittle, making him the youngest player to
do so since the merger of the NBA and ABA in 1976. From then on, McGrady played
one more season in Orlando where he again captured the NBA scoring tittle, and
scored a career high 62 points in a single game.
|T-Mac returns to the NBA just in time for the playoffs.|
McGrady then got traded to the Houston Rockets in a multi-player blockbuster deal, which included Steve Francis, Juwan Howard, and more. In Houston, McGrady expanded his public image through endorsements by Adidas, staring in several commercials, and appearing on the cover of NBA Live 07. His game also flourished as McGrady earned himself several more All-Star game selections, All-NBA Second and Third Team rights, and stellar stats. As McGrady dominated the regular season, McGrady soon became plagued with unlucky playoff appearances, and injuries. Tracy was never able to go past the second round only once in his career. As McGrady continued to fail in the post season, his body deteriorated at a tremendous rate. Constant knee surgeries and back problems, McGrady lost his ability to electrify the court like he once did, and failed to live up to the hype he once created for himself. In 2009 McGrady’s time in Houston was finally up. He then attempted to resurrect his career in New York, Detroit and Atlanta. All of these attempts failed, and help make a strong argument to support that despite McGrady’s early success, he is not entitled to a Hall of Fame selection.
Let’s fast forward to present day in mid-April 2013, where Tracy McGrady was playing basketball in the Chinese Basketball Association for the Qingado Eagles. Averaging an impressive 25 points per game, 7.2 rebounds per game, and 5.1 assists per game, McGrady proved he was capable of playing the game he once dominated. April 16, 2013, the San Antonio Spurs announced that they signed Tracy McGrady to help them beat out the tough Western Conference, and take the 2013 NBA championship.
The Spurs had a great season, as they currently hold the number 2 seed in the Western Conference. But alike the past three years, the Spurs seem to be getting worse at the wrong time. The Spurs are bruised up and rattled from a tough season. The Spurs are lead by two future Hall of Famers, coach Greg Poppvich and big man Tim Duncan. But beyond those stars, the Spurs main contributors have shown sudden weakness. Clutch shooting guard Manu Ginobilli has been rattled up for the past couple of weeks, All-Star point guard Tony Parker has been injured, and young assets Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green are showing maturity issues.
Both looking for a championship, the Spurs and Tracy McGrady signed a contract for the remaining of the season on April 17, 2013. McGrady isn’t the player he used to be, and there’s no surprise he’ll be coming off the bench playing limited minutes. However, McGrady’s experience and scoring potential could be extremely helpful in the playoffs. If he’s able to effectively under Popovich’s system, McGrady could give the Spurs anywhere from 8 to 16 points off the bench. These points may not seem that big in playoff time, but for a bench player coming on the court in the mid second and third quarter, these numbers can give the Spurs the push they need to succeed.
With Tracy McGrady’s arrival on the Spurs, there’s a number of “what ifs.” But with the drive to win, and exceptional play off the bench in Greg Popovich’s system, McGrady can come alive in key moments for the Spurs. In a time period with uncertainty and a tough matchup against the Lakers in the first round, Tracy McGrady has the potential to be the unlikely hero to save the day for the San Antonio Spurs.