For those who had the chance to see him in his prime, Tracy McGrady was every bit as good as some of the game’s greatest players. Whether it’s scoring as good as Kobe Bryant or running a team like LeBron James, McGrady could do it all. But, TMac didn’t jump out of the gates as a rookie, and unlike other great players early in their careers, Tracy rode the bench quite a bit during his first few years with the Toronto Raptors.
“That guy was my back-up!”Walt Williams, 1-ON-1 with Basketball Network
McGrady averaged 18 minutes a game in his rookie season, compared to Walt Williams‘ 31 minutes per game. With Walt ascending into his prime years in 97-98, it made sense to start the Wizard over a high school kid in TMac. Walt certainly knew this would not be for long, as he told Basketball Network about the time he knew TMac would become one of the greatest ever to play the game.
“He drove baseline and I came over from the free-throw line to swipe the ball away so he pumped it. I flew passed him and when I landed, he turned his body before dunking the ball backward. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen.”Walt Williams, 1-ON-1 with Basketball Network
TMac had otherworldly athleticism during his prime years and was the pioneer of the alley-oop to oneself off the backboard. McGrady just didn’t dunk the ball off the board, but he made sure to finish the move with a nice reverse dunk each time. He was so much more than just a dunker, though.
McGrady could shoot, handle, and post-up, allowing him to score with the best of them. Also, had he been surrounded by more talent, he could probably have excelled on the defensive end of the floor as well. The late Kobe Bryant once referred to Tracy as the toughest match-up he has ever faced.
Do you think Tracy McGrady was one of the greatest players ever? Most people probably don’t, simply because he never won a ring. It is the same foolish reason why players like Charles Barkley and Karl Malone are not remembered for the great players they were, and it is troubling that fans are so concerned with the result that we fail to look at the beauty happening right in front of us.
At the end of the day, people are great because of their impact on a team or society, and TMac had a massive effect on the game that we watch today by being so damn good at basketball.