• A Salute to T-Mac

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    raffy

    RAFFY LEDESMA

    It can be said that Tracy McGrady is one the best players never to win an NBA championship, in the same list as Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, and Dominique Wilkins.T-Mac, as he is fondly called, almost won a ring with the San Antonio Spurs but fell one game short in the last NBA Finals. He recently announced his retirement from the NBA, leaving an impressive legacy of being a 7-time All-Star, 7-time All-NBA Team selection, and two-time NBA scoring champion.

    McGrady was selected 9th pick overall in the 1997 NBA draft straight out of high school by the Toronto Raptors.He spent the first 3 years with the Raptors under the shadow of his distant cousin Vince Carter. T-Mac started slow and played limited minutes in his first two seasons before getting more minutes in his third.During that year, T-Mac and Vinsanity led the Toronto Raptors to its first-ever playoff appearance in franchise history.

    T-Mac became a dominant player when he joined the Orlando Magic.The Magic also signed Grant Hill but an ankle injury limited him to only 4 games. McGrady became the main man and he used the opportunity to show his real talents. He averaged nearly 27 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 4.6 assists and added a combined 3 blocks and steals per game. He also won the 2001 Most Improved Player Award. In the 2002-2003 season, he captured his first scoring title (32.1 ppg) at 23, becoming the youngest player to do so at that time (this was later eclipsed by Kevin Durant).The following year, he defended the scoring title.

    McGrady would play the next several seasons with four other teams including the Houston Rockets where he teamed up with Yao Ming.During his 6-year stint with the Rockets, McGrady would begin to suffer major injuries including chronic back pains, shoulder and knee problems forcing him to miss many games.

    While T-Mac was considered one of the best players of his generation, rivaling the talents of even Kobe Bryant, the number one knock on him was that he never got any of the teams he led past the 1st round of the playoffs. When the 1st round exits piled up, critics began to question his work ethic and his passion to succeed. There is now even talk if he is deserving to be included in basketball’s Hall-of-Fame (HOF).

    Objectively, McGrady when fully healthy, was nearly unstoppable giving us one highlight after another.The numbers don’t lie. Only two players have averaged at least 32 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists over a full season. McGrady and his Airness Michael Jordan. He is also one of five players over the last 2 decades to reach at least 18,000 points, 5,200 rebounds, and 4,100 assists.His production and perhaps his potential success were limited by injuries, and partly the teams he played on.He was often a one-man show with little help.

    McGrady deserves to be recognized and inducted into the HOF.His career averages and achievements speak for themselves.More importantly, he amazed fans far and wide with his plethora of moves, versatility, and sheer athletic ability.He could’ve been one of the greats, but being close to getting that distinction is good enough.

    raffyrledesma@yahoo.com

    SIDELINES.T-Mac played in his first NBA Finals game with the San Antonio Spurs on June 9, 2013.He posted two rebounds and two assists.The Miami Heat eventually won the series.

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