Long ago, a forlorn young baller played in a far away land. This young baller had the promise of many but his potential was quickly overshadowed by his older cousin’s amazing skill.
This young baller was Tracy McGrady and he played in the faraway land that is Toronto, Ontario.
In three seasons and 192 games, young Tracy averaged 11.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting a healthy 44.8% for the Toronto Raptors. He had a lot of promise, that much cannot be disputed. There was a fluidity and confidence to his game was dazzling, especially when paired with cousin Vince’s high-flying antics.
Tracy got his first taste of the playoffs in his third season; the Raptors made their first ever playoff appearance in a first-round exit. Tracy was that team’s second highest scorer. But his appetite could not be satiated in the barren grounds of Canada.
The young man, full of promise and desire, traveled to the southern reaches of the league. He went to Orlando, Florida. Another young franchise had plans for him to become “the man.” Once there, he would team with the once-great Grant Hill by his side. Magic fans had echoes of Jordan and Pippen in their mind. At the very least, they could become a modern Drexler and Terry Porter.
However, trouble struck central Florida. The talented duo never got off the ground. In Tracy’s four seasons with the Magic, Hill played only 47 games.
So Tracy would have to do it himself. He made Magic fans forget about Penny Hardaway and look for a new beginning. But regardless of Tracy’s efforts — in his four seasons, he averaged 28.1 points, 7 rebounds and 5.2 assists — his playoff aspirations bore no fruit.
His lack of success in the post-season began to create whispers. These whispers were something every great player dreads. “Loser” began to be associated with the proud Tracy McGrady. And as his injuries began to accumulate, so did questions of his toughness and durability. Could he succeed in the playoffs? Can he be trusted with a franchise? Can he stay healthy?
At one point, this man was considered a top 3 player in the league. How could this be happening? He’s never had any help and never has he played with a dependable big man.
That would change. Enter Yao Ming and the Rockets. The 25-year-old Tracy would now share the spotlight with a Western giant. He now had a legitimate force down low to throw the ball to. But it hasn’t been enough so far.
In Tracy’s four seasons with the Houston Rockets, they have never won a playoff series. Those whispers from his Orlando days have followed him to the Western Conference. His Rockets just dropped both home games to the Utah Jazz. They are about to travel to Salt Lake City where the Jazz own a highly-publicized home-court advantage.
And now I whisper to myself… Maybe some people just weren’t supposed to win. The game has been so good to Tracy McGrady but what else will it give? Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. Maybe Tracy will never win a playoff series.
The tragedy of Tracy McGrady is all I hear and it’s breaking my heart.