It’s not uncommon for NBA players to have basketball as their second favorite sport. Some of them even discover basketball relatively late in their teenage years and turn out to be savants. Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady is one of those great ballers who didn’t fall in love with the orange ball at first sight. He unveiled why he made the ultimate switch to the hardcourt from the ballpark.
Still my favorite
According to McGrady, baseball was his first sport, followed by football. He wasn’t too keen on playing basketball as a kid, but several bullying incidents triggered T-Mac to try his luck on the courts of Florida.
“When I was younger, I started baseball at 5. That was my favorite sport. Even in my NBA career, it is still my favorite sport. I played football when I was 8 years old. I didn’t really start playing basketball until I was like 9, 10 years old. It was because I got bullied. I got older cousins, a neighborhood full of guys that were older. We used to go to the park all the time. I used to just stand around and watch. Didn’t want to play, again, because it wasn’t my sport,” McGrady said, per the Knuckleheads podcast.
McGrady said when he started playing, he didn’t excel right away. In fact, he even got bullied more. In hindsight, McGrady is thankful for those instances as they triggered his competitive nature. He didn’t get turned off by the bullies. T-Mac went back to the lab to work on his craft.
McGrady said that during those days, they didn’t really play organized 5-on-5 games. Instead, there were 1-on-1 or 3-on-3 duels. This setup influenced how McGrady trained, as he didn’t necessarily have his teammates in mind during those lonely nights on the court when he perfected his techniques.
“That introduced me to one-on-one basketball from that point on. As I got older, that’s all I did was play one-on-one. That became getting tough and being able to figure out defenses and how they play. Playing through bigger and stronger guys, quicker guys, that was my niche,” McGrady said.
True enough, the unorthodox setup benefitted McGrady in countless ways. His scoring potential was so high that NBA scouts deemed him basketball ready in high school. It took a few years for him to bloom, but when he did, NBA fans witnessed one of the most explosive scorers in the game. This can all be traced to those bullying incidents and that informal playing style in the basketball courts of Florida.