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Bruno
08-31-2013, 03:35 PM
http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/9616069/the-unfortunate-tale-t-mac


The Unfortunate Tale of T-Mac
Tracy McGrady was a superstar who always seemed to find himself on the wrong team with the wrong players

By Bill Simmons on August 30, 2013


As the summer passed, everything I witnessed during the 2013 NBA Finals blurred into one colorful, eclectic memory. Tony Parker chewing up 23.999997 seconds of the shot clock before clinching Game 1 with an outrageous leaner. Spurs fans clogging downtown San Antonio after Game 5, relentlessly honking their horns and creating a festive gridlock. LeBron's headband getting symbolically knocked off in the second half of Game 6, right before he summoned his immense powers to save Miami's season. Ray Allen making the single greatest shot I've ever seen in person to steal San Antonio's championship away. Tim Duncan bent over in the last minute of Game 7, his hands pushing against his knees, totally distressed, unable to fathom how he missed a game-saving bunny that he's probably made a million times.

Somewhere in that Finals memory morass sits Tracy McGrady, once considered the de facto equal of Kobe Bryant … only now, he was toiling away as an overqualified benchwarmer for San Antonio. The role was so far beneath him, nobody even knew how to fully process it. This was like Gene Hackman slumming it as an uncredited policeman in Lincoln. Poor McGrady had no impact on the series, but one T-Mac moment stood out for me. About 75 minutes before Game 4 in San Antonio, I was standing on the court waiting for Duncan to warm up — one of my favorite Finals moments, if only because everything that has happened in Duncan's extraordinary career makes sense after you've seen him warm up. It's like what Glenn Frey revealed about the secret of Jackson Browne's brilliance in the Eagles documentary.

Elbow grease. Time. Thought. Persistence.

Duncan only takes shots that he plans on using in games. No joking around, no casual conversing, no stopping, no smiling. Just an aging artist honing his craft. It's beautiful to watch. On this night, Duncan hadn't emerged from the locker room yet. So I started watching McGrady — a future Hall of Famer like Duncan, only someone who had never even won a playoff series until he joined San Antonio in April. I was standing there wearing a suit and tie, my face covered in makeup. McGrady was wearing practice clothes, halfheartedly hoisting 3s with a half-smile spread across on his face. I knew he wasn't playing that night unless they were up 20 or down 20. So did he. I knew his career had been over for a while. So did he. Only he kept jacking up those 3s, and he kept kind of smiling, and the moment meant nothing and everything.

So I wasn't shocked when McGrady retired this week. He hadn't resonated with NBA fans since the 2007-08 season, when a good-but-not-great Rockets team stunned everybody by ripping off 22 straight victories. If you want to remember that astonishing winning streak as T-Mac's Last Stand, that's fine. He bounced around like a McGrady impostor for these past five years — first in New York, then Detroit, then Atlanta, then China, and finally San Antonio. The final third of his career meant absolutely nothing, for what happened on the court, anyway.

In Hollywood, movie stars keep working after their careers cool off. They reinvent themselves as character actors, join television shows, find Off Broadway roles, maybe even release excruciatingly awful movies like The Killing Season. (Note to John Travolta and Robert De Niro: You still owe me $4.99.) It always feels worse when it happens in sports, particularly basketball, when only eight or nine guys truly matter on every team. Once you can't crack that group, you're confined to cheerleading and garbage time. But you're still there. We see you during every timeout and every layup line. Almost always, you're somewhere in your thirties, so you don't look dramatically different than you did when you mattered. It's almost like you threw on a Halloween costume of yourself.

We don't care if this happens to the Juwan Howards and Richard Jeffersons of the world. When it's someone like McGrady? That's when we care. That's when we wish they could see what we're seeing. That it's over, basically. "Show some dignity," we want to tell them. We always feel relieved when they retire, allowing their memories to prevail on YouTube and NBA TV's Hardwood Classics. We don't want to remember someone of McGrady's caliber arriving out of shape for the 2008-09 season, holding the Rockets hostage for a few months, then screwing them by getting microfracture surgery right before the trade deadline. We don't want to remember him participating in a mutiny against his coach in Detroit, backing up the immortal Marvin Williams in Atlanta, or slumming it in China for a few extra million bucks.

We want to remember 22 straight and 32.1 points per game. We want to remember seven All-Star Games in a row. We want to remember McGrady dropping 62 on the Wizards, trash-talking his way to a 42-10-8 in Game 3 against the 2001 Bucks (his superstar audition tape), nearly beating the '03 Pistons in the playoffs by himself, combining with Dirk Nowitzki to score 103 points in 2005, or exploding for 36 points in 27 minutes at the 2006 All-Star Game in Houston. We want to remember him in may-they-endure-forever videos with titles like "Tracy McGrady's Top 10 Posterizations" …

[CLICK ON THE LINK AT THE TOP FOR THE VIDEO]

We want to remember the eight-year stretch from 2001 through 2008, when McGrady's production was barely different from Kobe Bryant's production. Here, look.

Player A (reg. season): 26.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 5.5 apg, 44-34-75%, 21.8 FGA, 7.4 FTA, 24.2 PER, 32.7 usage

Player B (reg. season): 29.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 5.3 apg, 45-34-84%, 21.9 FGA, 9.0 FTA, 25.0 PER, 32.6 usage

You probably figured out that Player B was Kobe. (True.) But you had to think about it. This goofy exercise gets harder when you compare T-Mac's playoff averages from 2001 to 2008 (35 games) with Kobe's playoff averages over that same stretch (102 games).

Player A: 28.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 5.3 apg, 43.4 mpg, 45-33-81%, 22.6 FGA, 8.3 FTA, 22.5 PER, 31.1 usage

Player B: 29.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 6.5 apg, 42.6 mpg, 43-30-75%, 24.5 FGA, 9.1 FTA, 25.4 PER, 35.3 usage

You probably figured out that Player B was Kobe. Wrong. It was T-Mac. Those 35 playoff games became part of his legacy, for better or worse — superduperstar numbers for someone who obviously couldn't be a superduperstar because (hold on, I'm grabbing my sports radio voice) let's be honest, folks, superduperstars should make the second round! We judge these guys by playoff wins first and everything else second. Most of the time, it's totally fair. In T-Mac's case, it's not totally fair. Kobe had Shaq and Phil, and later Gasol and Odom, with a slew of Horrys and Fishers and Rices mixed in. T-Mac's best teammates were Yao Ming, Grant Hill (played 46 games in four years with McGrady), Mike Miller, a washed-up Dikembe Mutombo, a really washed-up Patrick Ewing, and a really, really, really washed-up Shawn Kemp.

Remember when we kinda sorta felt bad for Kobe after he drove Shaq out of Los Angeles, when the Black Mamba was saddled with the Kwame Browns and Smush Parkers for a couple of years before Pau Gasol miraculously arrived? Here's a complete list of every teammate who started a playoff game with Tracy McGrady during his aforementioned 2001-08 peak …

Darrell Armstrong (three years), Bo Outlaw, Andrew DeClercq (two years), Mike Miller (two years), Pat Garrity (two years), Horace Grant (36 at the time), Monty Williams, Jacque Vaughn, Gordan Giricek, Drew Gooden, Yao Ming (two years), David Wesley, Bob Sura, Ryan Bowen, Scott Padgett, Shane Battier (two years), Rafer Alston (two years), Chuck Hayes, Luis Scola, Dikembe Mutombo (somewhere between age 40 and 52 at the time), and Bobby Jackson.

You knew it was a roster car crash, but you didn't know it was THAT bad, right?1 No modern superstar had worse teammate luck than Tracy McGrady. He's a casualty from a bizarre era that, for the most part, worked against the success of the league's most talented players from 1993 through 2007. Overexpansion badly diluted the league's talent pool during that time, so too many young stars (T-Mac, LeBron, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Allen Iverson, Hill, etc.) were asked to carry inferior supporting casts. Teenagers like McGrady and Kobe started jumping into the NBA right from high school, with wildly mixed results. Contracts spiraled out of control — in the 1990s, lottery picks were either guaranteed big bucks immediately (endangering their incentive to improve), or given three-year outs from their rookie deals (giving them too much power at the wrong time of their lives, even if some of them handled it well). And for whatever reason, we had an inordinate amount of incompetent general managers and owners making a staggering number of shortsighted decisions.2

Just call it the NBA's WTF era. And McGrady symbolized it. He landed in Toronto as an 18-year-old lottery pick right out of high school, spent his rookie season playing garbage time, wasted his second season in the disgusting 50-game lockout debacle, then unexpectedly blossomed in Season 3 as his cousin Vince Carter's running mate. I remember seeing them in person during that 1999-2000 season, then getting retroactively bitter that Rick Pitino had picked Ron Mercer three spots ahead of T-Mac in the '97 draft. Out of nowhere, that became one of the biggest draft-day blunders in Celtics history. Ron Mercer over T-Mac? So what if Garnett, Bryant, and McGrady taught us that we shouldn't underestimate the potential of a high schooler, something that would have been absolutely impossible to know for sure in 1997. Ron Mercer over T-Mac?????????

Heading into that summer, McGrady's name suddenly started landing in the same sentence with fellow free agents Tim Duncan and Grant Hill. How much was a budding All-Star worth who had just passed the legal drinking age? Even though the Raptors were building something special, McGrady bolted for seemingly greener pastures in Orlando. If 2013's contract rules existed that summer, T-Mac would have been forced to spend an extra two years in Toronto … and probably would have made the Finals in 2001 or 2002. We would have regarded him as the Evolutionary Pippen, the 6-foot-8 freak athlete who could do everything that Scottie did … only the dude could get buckets, too. We would have discussed T-Mac and Vince like we discuss Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant now. We would have argued about "Shaq and Kobe or Vince and T-Mac?"

But McGrady wanted his own team, wanted to get out of Vince's shadow, and wanted to play closer to home. In that order. He didn't really want to be Pippen 2.0. Those are the conclusions you make when you're 21. In the months following his Toronto departure, an underrated McGrady-Carter beef developed that would have been 10 times more fun in the sports blog/Twitter era. (They finally made up.) All these years later, McGrady admits that he should have stayed in Toronto. But had Grant Hill just stayed healthy, and had Orlando never stupidly given away Ben Wallace in Hill's sign-and-trade,3 there's a 100 percent chance that Orlando would have made the Finals at least once. Ego + boneheaded management + bad luck. That's the Kobe/KG/T-Mac/Iverson era in a nutshell.

Four years later, Orlando could have teamed T-Mac with incoming rookie Dwight Howard; instead, they dumped him to Houston in a classic "two quarters for a dollar" trade for Steve Francis, Cuttino Mobley, and Kelvin Cato. (Make no mistake — we knew this trade was dreadful even when it happened.) T-Mac spent the rest of his prime awkwardly meshing with 7-foot-6 lane-clogger Yao Ming, a wonderful teammate and insanely hard worker who was probably the most overrated good player of that era. Howard would have been a much better fit.

Poor McGrady never caught a break. Not one. And once his back started betraying him, that was that. Garnett has that rollicking '04 Timberwolves run, then everything that happened in Boston. Iverson has the 2001 Finals. C-Webb has those fantastic Sacramento teams. Ray Allen has the 2001 Bucks, then everything in Boston, then The Shot. Kobe and Duncan have nine rings and 12 Finals appearances between them. Dirk has the 2007 MVP and the 2011 title. Nash has two MVPs and the ridiculously entertaining Seven Seconds or Less era. Jason Kidd has two straight Finals. Pierce has the 2002 playoff run and the 2008 Finals MVP. Even Vince has that one unforgettable playoff duel with Iverson.

Tracy McGrady? He's the guy who never made it to the second round. And yet, just two weeks ago, Kobe Bryant told Jimmy Kimmel in front of 5,000 people that McGrady was his toughest opponent ever. Not LeBron, not Wade, not Pierce, not Durant. T-Mac. Was that a passive-aggressive dig at LeBron? Did Kobe really mean it? After McGrady retired this week, I couldn't resist texting Kobe to ask him. Was it true? Was T-Mac really the most talented player Kobe ever played against?

His response: "No question."

You know how every car wash offers escalating prices for different packages? I've used this analogy for NBA players before, but the best one is usually called the "everything" package. It's self-explanatory: You get everything that car wash offers. And in my lifetime, God has given only one basketball player the "everything" package. That's why we've spent the past seven years grading LeBron James on a curve. When you've been given the "everything" package, we cannot allow you to mess that up.

Well, you know the slightly less expensive package right before the "everything," the one that makes you say "****, if I'm getting that one, I might as well spend three extra bucks and just buy the 'everything'"? That's the package that God awarded to T-Mac. In Toronto, we assumed McGrady would follow Pippen's path as an όber-athletic perimeter stud who could handle the ball, play four positions, defend just about anyone, carry your offense a little, and make his teammates better. You win with guys like this. And if they're your second-best guy, you win titles with them.

Then he jumped to Orlando and … I mean, Jesus. Nobody saw THAT coming.

Age 21: 26.8 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 4.6 APG, 40.1 MPG, 46-36-73%, 3.0 stocks,4 24.9 PER, 12.2 WS
Age 22: 25.6 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 5.3 APG, 38.3 MPG, 45-36-75%, 2.6 stocks, 25.1 PER, 11.5 WS
Age 23: 32.1 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 5.5 APG, 39.4 MPG, 46-39-79%, 2.5 stocks, 30.3 PER, 16.1 WS

That last season (for the 2002-03 Magic) doubles as one of the single greatest statistical seasons ever submitted by a modern perimeter player. If you're only allowing one "best" season for every player, here's the short list of monster seasons we've seen since the ABA/NBA merger in 1976.

'89 MJ: 32.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 8.0 apg, 40.2 mpg, 54-28-85%, 4.8 stocks, 31.1 PER, 19.8 WS5
'09 LBJ: 28.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 7.2 apg, 37.7 mpg, 49-34-78%, 2.8 stocks, 31.7 PER, 20.3 WS
'09 Wade: 30.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 7.5 apg, 38.6 mpg, 49-32-77%, 3.5 stocks, 30.4 PER, 14.7 WS
'03 T-Mac: 32.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 5.5 apg, 39.4 mpg, 46-39-79%, 2.5 stocks, 30.3 PER, 16.1 WS
'06 Kobe: 35.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.5 apg, 41.0 mpg, 45-35-85%, 2.2 stocks, 28.0 PER, 15.3 WS
'87 Bird: 28.1 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 7.6 apg, 40.6 mpg, 53-40-91%, 2.7 stocks, 26.4 PER, 15.2 WS
'87 Magic: 23.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 12.2 apg, 36.3 mpg, 52-21-85%, 2.2 stocks, 27.0 PER, 15.9 WS

Total number of rings on that list? Twenty-four. So how could someone THAT good not drag a single playoff team to a second round? It's too easy to blame McGrady's supporting cast, right? Didn't this have to go deeper? Since Rockets GM Daryl Morey crossed paths with McGrady for three-plus years in Houston, I called him to pick his brain. Morey can make the statistical case for McGrady as easily as you'd expect — in 2007, Morey even believes T-Mac could have won the league's MVP6 — but years later, what still stands out for Morey was the day-to-day distance between McGrady's gifts and his teammates' gifts. McGrady's best possible game was significantly better than everyone else's best game.

But McGrady wasn't a natural leader. His personality never matched his talents, Morey believed, which wasn't necessarily a bad thing. For his first three Houston seasons, it fell upon coach Jeff Van Gundy to supply that leadership — by default — and as Morey accurately points out, you never want your team drawing its entire personality and toughness from someone wearing a suit. (Even in Chicago, where the Bulls assumed Tom Thibodeau's rugged personality over these last three years, that wouldn't work if lunch-pail guys like Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler weren't involved.) After Morey fired Van Gundy before the 2007-08 season, new hire Rick Adelman was hoping McGrady would take on a bigger leadership role. Adelman was a more laid-back coach, Morey explains, someone who'd rather delegate to his players. So they met with McGrady to tell him that they needed his help.

What happened? McGrady politely turned them down. He just wasn't wired that way, he told them.

"So who did everyone consider the team's leader during your 22-game winning streak?" I asked Daryl.

"Probably Chuck Hayes," Daryl said.

Chuck Hayes???? Now we're getting somewhere. So many of McGrady's superstar contemporaries were wired a certain way: Kobe, Garnett, Duncan, Iverson, Shaq, Kidd … all alpha dogs whose teams assumed their personalities, for better or worse. Can you succeed in the playoffs if your best player isn't wired like that? I couldn't resist calling Van Gundy, one of McGrady's staunchest defenders and the copresident of the unofficial Tracy McGrady Was Absolutely Fantastic Club. Van Gundy received his PhD in basketball leadership during his extended tenure with the Knicks, first with Pat Riley's rough-and-tumble teams, then with his own group of veterans that sneaked into the '99 Finals. You'd think Patrick Ewing was their leader, but it was actually Larry Johnson — a broken-down alpha dog who still carried himself like he was in his prime, winning everyone's respect by competing with a debilitating back injury. Ewing still carried a ton of weight for them, obviously. Kurt Thomas, Charlie Ward, and Chris Childs gave the Knicks a nasty streak, and new arrival Latrell Sprewell brought enough brashness for a 60-man roster.

Van Gundy loved coaching them — they would have fought through a wall for him, and for each other, too. And as we were talking, we both realized that it would have been an absolutely perfect team for Tracy McGrady. Switch him with Allan Houston and T-Mac's entire prime would have been different. "Either your best player has to cover up the non-strengths of the others," Van Gundy says now, "or the others have to cover up the non-strengths of the stars," and ideally, you'd want both things happening at once. The '99 Knicks would have done that for McGrady, and vice versa.

"Your best player has to set the tone, without question," Van Gundy explains. "If he doesn't do that, then it has to be the head coach. But it's better if the player has it. Tracy was never a leader, but he was a helluva basketball player. If you coached him or coached against him, you would have a much different view. McGrady made people better — he was a great, great passer. Wasn't a great shooter, but he was a great scorer, could guard, pass, was smart, rebounded. He could do everything. I mean, even Bryant came out and said some nice things … it's not like Kobe Bryant goes out and blows smoke up people's ***."

Van Gundy wishes people didn't overrate playoff success when they evaluated players, pointing out that Kevin Garnett was the exact same player in 2007 (32 wins) and 2008 (82 wins, including playoffs). He believes the line between success and failure is much thinner, and much more random, than anyone wants to admit. The ultimate example: Game 6 of the 2013 Finals, obviously. But in 2007, Van Gundy's Rockets squandered a Game 7 at home, blowing a late lead to a fairly young Jazz team.7 Like always, everyone blamed McGrady for not coming through, even though he scored 29 points and added 13 assists. Had Houston prevailed, it would have played the no. 8 seed Warriors in Round 2, then San Antonio in the Western finals. Let's say it made the conference finals and lost in six. Would you feel differently about T-Mac's career then?

You would … right?

"Easy to coach," Van Gundy gushes about McGrady. "Smart as hell. Not the greatest practice player of course. He understood he had to give X amount of level in practice to avoid confrontation with the coach, and that's what he did. But he was totally unselfish in the way he played the game. TOTALLY unselfish. I was there every night. Was I looking forward to coaching him in the second game of a back-to-back against a bad team? No, not gonna happen. But if you put him against a great team? He always showed up. Look at his playoff numbers versus his regular-season numbers. How many guys had better playoff numbers? Seriously, how many?"

Van Gundy believes T-Mac's Orlando experience was the worst thing that could have happened: getting thrown into the superstar fire during his formative years,8 getting deprived of Grant Hill, being forced to carry a woefully subpar team and, worst of all, having to play selfishly when, again, the best thing about McGrady was his unselfishness. That's when I realized that I had to call Doc Rivers,9 T-Mac's Orlando coach for three-plus years and Van Gundy's copresident of the unofficial Tracy McGrady Was Absolutely Fantastic Club.

"He was so much better than his numbers in a crazy way," Doc says. "I know that sounds weird, but it's true. Tracy had to score for us — if Tracy didn't have to be a scorer, he would have been even better. I really believe that. He was so unselfish, that was the best thing about him. He was good at everything … he was a great playmaker, he could really pass. If he could have had a chance to play with another great player, he would have been even better."

That's the irony, right? McGrady had that chance not once but twice. After McGrady bolted for Orlando, the Raptors won 47 games, made Round 2 and eked a career year out of Vince (27.6 PPG, 46% FG, 25.0 PER). Both cousins made second-team All-NBA that year, but they would have been more potent in tandem.10 Vince loved scoring, T-Mac loved doing everything else. The 2001 Raptors were built like Van Gundy's beloved '99 Knicks team, with respected veterans like Mark Jackson, Charles Oakley, Dell Curry and Antonio Davis leading the way. Wouldn't they have made it easier for the cousins to become Poor Man's MJ and Rich Man's Pippen? Wouldn't they have smoothed over any alpha dog issues? Wouldn't they have allowed the cousins to dominate a comically weak Eastern Conference? We'll never know.

As for Orlando, Rivers admits to thinking "What if?" about Hill and McGrady just about every day — even now, even after all these years, even after all the success Rivers had in Boston. That's just what coaches do — they always dwell on the losses and the injuries and the bad breaks and the what-ifs. That's just how they're wired.

"We only had a couple of games of Grant, Tracy and Mike [Miller] playing together,"11 Doc remembers now. "I kept feeling the whole time like we could be unguardable. And then we actually saw it. All three guys could handle the ball, pass and rebound. It would have been a nightmare matchup every night. At the time, I thought we could win the title with those three guys. I really did, I'm not just saying that. And then it was gone."

Rivers realizes now how difficult everything was for McGrady, especially when it became more and more clear that Hill was never coming back. "Tracy wasn't a leader at all," Doc says, "and unfortunately for him, he had to be. He was too young and suddenly it's like, 'This is your franchise.' That's a lot to ask. And we were always in a holding pattern because of Grant. We never knew when he was coming back."


...

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MTar786
08-31-2013, 07:00 PM
that was a great write up. i saw it yesterday. tmac at his best was basically a kobe bryant. he just wasnt the same type of alpha-male take no crap bs kinda guy kobe was. one thing id like to add was that tmac was extremely clutch.. he had that gene just like kobe. people dont seem to mention that enough. i personally think a prime tmac was just as good as a prime lebron. tmac just never got the chance to display it playing his best injury free years with pat garrity and deqlerq or whatever. tmac was basically a kobe with lebrons height and court vision minus the strength but with a better jumper and A LOT more polished offensive game.

SugeKnight
08-31-2013, 07:39 PM
I read almost half of that!

raiderposting
08-31-2013, 09:38 PM
There is more to the article lol

jimm120
09-01-2013, 05:14 AM
Lol..that first comment is funny :)

I think I read a it more than half. I read until a bit after the players he'd played with.

waveycrockett
09-01-2013, 10:51 AM
Prime T-Mac>Prime Kobe

Like Kobe said himself T-Mac had all the same skills and athleticism but was 6'9.

ThuglifeJ
09-01-2013, 11:19 AM
Should have stayed in Toronto no question about it. Damn that would have been a sight to see..



am I the only one who thinks it's annoying a player is constantly ripped on, unappreciated, and talked down upon until they retire then it's all bundles of love?

smood999
09-01-2013, 01:57 PM
Ric Bucher on T-Mac:

Count me among those who believe Tracy McGrady was never recognized for just how talented he was. Keep me out of
the group that is now lamenting circumstance and arguing that surrounding personnel prevented him from enjoying the success other similar superstars had. That card can only be played when an athlete maximizes his or her potential and TMac didn't do that; one of his biggest supporters, Jeff Van Gundy, concedes he gave the minimal necessary effort in practice. Jeff, without saying it, knows that his teams were never as good as they could've been for that very reason. Bill Simmons, in his wonderfully written -- and one of the longer -- dissertations on the subject, acknowledges TMac was not a leader. He could've stopped there. Once you state that and acknowledge how talented TMac was, you've outlined the crippling combination that foretold TMac never would be all that his talent promised; and how is that on those who were around him? Moreover, such players aren't all that unique; Carmelo Anthony is another example. One of the absolutes in the NBA is that when the best player doesn't set the work-ethic bar for everyone else, a team has no hope of reaching its potential. Allen Iverson doesn't get to play the I-never-had-enough-talent-around-me card for the same reason. (That AI and TMac also were never the defensive players they could've been is Exhibit B.) And when your effort to be in pristine condition is a question mark, as it was with McGrady, and injuries become chronic and sometimes debilitating, it's not as easy to blame bad luck and weak supporting casts. The other element either being overlooked or not widely known is that TMac chose to go to both Orlando and Houston, so it's not as if he was some helpless victim cast into inferior situations. Maybe that's how it turned out, maybe management misled him as far as what they intended to do, but he chose those situations over others. I've long said that on pure talent, TMac had more than Kobe; he was one of the rare few who had the pure ability to dominate whatever aspect of the game he chose, no matter who the opponent was. And as personalities go, I can vouch firsthand that few NBA players had a warmer one. All of which makes painting him as a sympathetic figure or a guy who didn't have the luck that so many others enjoyed easy. Dead wrong, but easy. Last edited about 11 hours ago

waveycrockett
09-01-2013, 03:46 PM
^^^^Whoever says T-Mac and AI were never very good defensive players in their prime are full of it. T-Mac was a defensive specialist basically when he was with the Raps. He was used to defend 5 positions. And AI was a turnover creating machine. They were not LeBron James on that end but they were very good when they needed to be in their own right.

OceanSpray
09-02-2013, 12:07 AM
^^^^Whoever says T-Mac and AI were never very good defensive players in their prime are full of it. T-Mac was a defensive specialist basically when he was with the Raps. He was used to defend 5 positions. And AI was a turnover creating machine. They were not LeBron James on that end but they were very good when they needed to be in their own right.

Uhm.. T-Mac chooses spurts to defend. Heck, Durant is probably a better overall defender.

JordansBulls
10-10-2013, 12:15 AM
I will miss this guy badly. Probably my 2nd favorite player all time.