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The time Pat Riley offered a max contract to Tracy McGrady in the most Miami way possible

This easily could've been a scene from Miami Vice.
NBA former player Tracy McGrady and Miami Heat president Pat Riley

Tracy McGrady and Pat Riley

Tracy McGrady is a Hall of Famer who has a lot of “what if” questions surrounding him. What if McGrady remained healthy during his prime? What if he stayed in Toronto with his cousin, the great Vince Carter? Another what-if question has resurfaced: What if McGrady took his talents to the Miami Heat instead after Pat Riley offered him a max contract in the most outrageous way possible?


McGrady’s first three years in the league were enough for teams to realize that he’s the next big thing. There was a good reason that he was the ninth overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft as a high school kid. It was clear to everyone’s eyes that McGrady possessed the raw skill. It was just a matter of unlocking it. Though we all know that McGrady signed with the Orlando Magic, there was a possibility he could’ve taken his talents to the other team in Florida.

Pat Riley, who had just become Heat president and head coach two years earlier, had his eyes set on the young McGrady. Riley knew that apart from being part of a legitimate team, players also wanted an excellent city to live in. And the legendary head coach gave him a glimpse of Miami’s grandiosity.

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The Heat flew McGrady down to Miami on a private jet and then took him to Alonzo Mourning's house. “And they have drinks and they hang out and you know Zo was, like, one of the coolest guys in the league.” What happened next is the most Miami thing ever - like it was a scene from Miami Vice. 

They’re chilling at Zo’s house and all of a sudden, this speedboat pulls up. And Zo says, ‘Hey Tracy, let’s go for a ride.’ They get into the speedboat. They hit go and the speedboat goes 80 miles an hour across Biscayne Bay, zapping by the arena, downtown Miami, beautiful. It pulls in to Pat Riley‘s house down the cove. And Riley’s standing there holding the max contract offer,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst on The Woj Pod.

An opportunity missed?

While McGrady rose to superstardom in Orlando, the man failed to carry his team to championship status. In his five seasons with the Magic, McGrady won two scoring titles but only made the playoffs three times. The sad thing is, he never made it past the first round.

Riley also had a relatively disappointing stint from the 90s to the early 2000s as the Heat’s coach and president. Their performance comprised a mix of first-round exits, playoff no-shows, a trip to the Conference Finals, and the Conference Semis. An argument could be made that things would’ve been different for both McGrady and Riley if they joined forces.

Whatever the case may be, we can still say things turned out well for both parties. Yes, McGrady failed to win a title. But he’s still respected by his peers as one of the greatest. Riley, meanwhile, continues to do his thing as Miami’s godfather.

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