Appreciating Tracy McGrady

I wouldn’t say I’m a Tracy McGrady fan. Nor am I particularly a fan of any of the teams he played for, however short his stay with them may have been. I don’t dislike McGrady though. For me, as good as he was in his prime – and he was incredible – McGrady was always just kind of there.

When T-Mac was drafted I was 4 years old. When he joined the Magic I was still just 7 and when he put together his best season, in which he scored 32.1 points per game, I was turning 10.

Apr 21, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Tracy McGrady (1) warms up before game one of the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the Los Angeles Lakers at AT

I would be lying to you if I noted memories of me as a young kid watching McGrady score at will. The truth is, the only game that sticks clearly in my mind is of him taking on the Pistons in a playoff game back in ’03 that I watched from my Grandma’s house.

To claim to be the NBA fan I am today when I was younger would also be lying to you. I’ve always enjoyed the NBA, but I certainly didn’t love it to the degree I do now. A large part of this was simply not having the access I have today through the Internet, NBA League Pass, etc. I didn’t grow up in Orlando so there weren’t as many opportunities to watch the T-Mac play, especially as a young child.

As he moved on to Houston and he fought for playoff success with Yao and company, I became more aware of the goings-on in the league as a result of growing older and better access to ways to watch him play. Yet despite this, I still didn’t connect with him as a player.

Sadly, my NBA fandom and McGrady’s career moved in opposite directions. As my love for the game increased, his ability to play it was taken away by injuries. His stints in New York, Detroit and Atlanta were fleeting and his time in San Antonio barely even counts.

Despite owning a pair of his shoes, I never connected with McGrady and fell in love with him the way other kids my age did, or the way I did with Paul Pierce and Allen Iverson. I know his best moments (such as this, and this) more from watching them over and over on YouTube more than having a memory of them happening.

But over time, through reading about his exploits and marveling at his highlights on YouTube, I’ve come to appreciate the former two-time scoring champion for what he was: a gifted athlete, at times an unstoppable or unmatchable scorer, and ultimately, a Hall of Fame caliber player.