It isn’t hard to tell when the shine from a star player in the NBA starts to tarnish. Their jerseys go from filling everyone’s wardrobes to lining discount rails. Their names go out from rappers mouths to the keystrokes of a negative blog. Tracy McGrady is an example of a guy who’s gone from being talked about in households and barbershops to becoming a mere afterthought. Jay-Z’s no longer talking about “banging like T-Mac” instead he’s “paying Dwyane Wade.” T-Mac’s end of season trade from Houston to New York in 2010 saw him playing in the Mecca of basketball. During his contract year in the Big Apple however he found it difficult to break through to the team’s core? Following that last season, he saw a brief pit stop in the motor city of Detroit. Still now despite, tweets with him in a super-imposed Laker jersey, Mac is a free agent looking for a new team. Tracy’s free, but for how long?
Tracy’s career to this point has been a mix of defining moment highlights and great expectations turned into a fair amount of disappointments, playoff or otherwise. This, however, isn’t something that is his fault. He has suffered the type of niggling injuries that can be career ending or devastating to a star player’s legacy. There are players that stay strong and consistent through their careers like Reggie Miller and then there are the guys like Penny Hardaway, which (to no fault of their own) could have been so much more if their bodies lasted longer. Still, like Iverson before him and (believe me) many more after him, McGrady is still a top man able to fit into the fabric of any team. So why aren’t people spending their money and picking him up as if he’s gone out of fashion. He’s so synonymous with big-time basketball that it’s almost like he’s a brand name.
Tracy was right there with guys like Kobe and Vince Carter as an heir apparent to Jordan’s throne. Nowadays, he’s the baton of star status has been passed to the likes of Lebron, Wade and Kevin Durant. It doesn’t seem long at all since Tracy was shining in the limelight, but it’s been many years since he’s been a perennial player in this league. Tracy’s ‘commercial’ success had him on many billboards and television screens. His swagger was Mick Jagger when he was featured in an Adidas ad showing how dominant he was and asking us “How do you want it?” Like 2Pac, all eyes where on him and a vast array of offensive firepower was on display to the soundtrack of Baby and Clipse. Fast forward to today and fans are left thinking “What happened to that boy?” T-Mac isn’t as high profile as he was or featuring in as many commercials as he once did.
We’ve gotten out of our seats when we’ve seen Tracy dish the ball off the glass to himself for a dunk, but we’ve also looked in disbelief as he blocked his own lay up against Milwaukee some years back. We’ve been amazed as he dropped 13 points in 33 seconds against San Antonio, but we’ve also felt the pain of yet another first round playoff loss, as we witnessed the speechless 2007 press conference where McGrady’s choked up tears said it all. Although these tears may have garnered more laughter then sympathy, was this really the emotions of a cry-baby? Or rather, a player truly driven to do more? Remember true players don’t give up.
Tracy’s journey to the top began up north with his cousin Vince Carter in Toronto. If people couldn’t see the rise of these two guys in Canada, then they certainly saw what they were both capable of during the electrifying year 2000 Slam Dunk Contest. The future stars of basketball never looked more exciting. This partnership (although rooted in kin) wasn’t destined to last, however, and Tracy was off to a much hotter climates in Florida. Sure, Vince and Tracy could have been the next big thing like Kobe, but they still formed one of the best, more exciting duos of the decades, even if it wasn’t for the ages. Just like Vince, Tracy is still top-flight, despite those who hate and continually try to ground him. These boys aren’t lost, they’ve just found a more worthwhile second career.
While in Orlando, the initial hype of McGrady teaming up with Grant Hill was immense. People were talking dominance and rings. Unfortunately, though Hill was another elite player who’s career would be dominated by more time on the chilling list then the court. Still this did show some promise from it’s hyped potential, and now just like Hill, T-Mac has the opportunity to form an incredible second career as a former star turned big contributor. This veteran has bags of tricks, skills and experiences of the highs and lows of NBA life — plus, he’s still only 32 years old. So, hee’s got plenty of time to left to pull something else out his hat.