Tracy McGrady Retires
Tracy McGrady joined Grant Hill as the lucrative signings of a post-Shaq era Magic. Together, the dynamic swingmen planned to return the Magic to contention with a new identity and two talents other teams coveted in that summer of 2000. The Magic had hoped to sign Tim Duncan, too, but that colossal game of what-ifs is only one the most insane Magic fans play.
The talent of McGrady and Hill could and should have been enough by itself. But injuries have a funny way of derailing destiny. Hill’s tenure in Orlando was wrought with ankle surgeries, a life-threatening staff infection, and pain. McGrady’s was a bit different.
In Orlando, T-Mac quickly went from having been a role player in Toronto the year prior with his cousin Vince Carter to being the main man on an overachieving team of role players. Magic fans salivated as to how good the team might be once Hill were fully healthy; though as time passed, we eventually came to the conclusion that Hill would never be the Magic Johnson-like incarnation he was becoming while in Detroit.
McGrady led the league in scoring in back-to-back seasons, and at a very long 6’9″ he was nearly unblockable from the wings. When T-Mac got hot, defenders couldn’t even pick their poison between a jumper or being driven around—McGrady simply scored at will.
In 2002-03, T-Mac averaged 32.1 points per game while also dishing out 5.5 assists and grabbing six boards, from the 2-guard spot. He would become extremely disgruntled as the 2003-04 Magic team won just 21 games. McGrady played nearly 40 minutes a night and attempted 23 field goals a game, but he received little help from a cast whose best talents included a should-have-been third-string point guard in Tyronn Lue running the show and a post-mega contract Juwan Howard.
T-Mac forced a trade to join Yao Ming in Houston, where his brilliance was never rediscovered. He and the Chinese giant took turns being on the injured reserved list, and the Rockets found out the Magic’s pain of having two max-contract guys who just couldn’t stay on the court.
McGrady was never fortunate enough to win a ring in his 14-year career. He spent 52 games in 2011-12 with the Atlanta Hawks, which weren’t the worst production-wise from a per-minute standpoint (11.7 points, 6.6 assists, 5.6 rebounds per-36), but the high talent offensive players seldom fill useful roles once their days as a main steed are gone. Moreover, because McGrady came into the league at 18 and fought numerous injuries, his 34 year old body is aged far more significantly than is often the case.
McGrady’s retirement doesn’t leave many thinking he’ll have a shot at the Hall, and the pity is that the Magic likely won’t even retire his number. Few will stop and think of McGrady’s awesome five year peak in Orlando that once had him looking like a no-brainer first ballot pick. All things considered, McGrady at the bare minimum goes down as the most explosive scoring guard in the history of the Magic organization.