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Tracy McGrady weighs in on everything from ‘one and done’ college players to loyalty in the NBA

Gage Nutter

Basketball Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady played in an era where getting drafted into the NBA out of high school wasn’t too surprising. Between 1995 and 2005, 42 players were selected in the NBA draft straight out of high school and McGrady was one of them.

Which is why it’s interesting that during press availability after the Basketball Hall of Fame jacket ceremony, McGrady commented that he advocates for a rule that requires players to wait two years before they enter for the NBA draft.  

“I’m one of the guys that thinks they should stay two years in college,” McGrady said. “That league is so young. They need to let these guys play later until they develop into what these teams want them to be. Its different nowadays for these kids. There’s no more T-Macs or Kobes or KGs (Kevin Garnett) or Lebrons.”

Looking back on his thirteen points in thirty-five seconds against the Spurs

On Dec. 9, 2004, the Rockets needed 13 points to defeat the Spurs, 81-80. All 13 of those points were scored in the last 33 seconds of the game by McGrady. The points were compiled by four three pointers and a made free throw.

Those 35 seconds contained one of the most iconic performances in NBA history.

Surprisingly, McGrady hasn’t rewatched the footage of those 35 seconds in a long time.

“Truthfully speaking, it’s been years ago [since I watched the footage],” McGrady said. “I haven’t even watched it that much.”

When asked if people still talk to him about that night McGrady said, “Man all the time. I can’t get away from it.”

Although McGrady claims he hasn’t watched the footage in some time, he did admit that he made his kids watch it.

“Here I am with the orange jacket about to get inducted into the hall of fame. I put them in the gym and try to tell them something and they act like I don’t know shit,” McGrady said. “That’s why I have got to show them, like ‘This is your dad. This is what I used to do.’. Do you know who I played against? Jordan, Kobe, Lebron. These are the guys you like watching on TV. I played against them. It doesn’t resonate.”

Toughest player to guard

McGrady played against elite offensive talent in his time in the NBA. Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan to name a couple. However he named one player that could light him up offensively, that no one was prepared for.

“You know the obvious ones like Kobe. Paul Pierce was tough because his pace and footwork was great. Mostly his pace threw me off. But Jamal Mashburn was tough. He was probably the only guy that I guarded for a whole game and he gave me 40. When I was in Orlando I had no choice but to guard him. But when I got to Houston and we had guys that were known to be good defenders it kind of gave me a break a little bit.”

Loyalty in the NBA

Basketball is all fun and games when you’re playing in the backyard with your friends, but when you get paid millions of dollars to play the game, the expectations change, and NBA players live out that truth every day.

When it comes to loyalty to an organization in the NBA, McGrady doesn’t think it exists. As it pertains to the Kevin Durant situation between the Thunder and the Warriors, McGrady does have one exception.

“I was a little upset when Kevin Durant left. I’m not going to lie,” McGrady said. “Not that he left, but because he joined Golden State. He’s so great and I just felt like him and Westbrook could have been those guys that won a championship together. I think him winning a championship with Westbrook and OKC will be much more joyous than going to team up with a 73-win team.”

“I’m happy he won a championship, because that’s what we all want to do. I just think it would have been more fulfilling to him to have won it all with OKC under those circumstances. But these owners are making all this kind of money man. Go out there and make the best career that you possibly can make as a player.”

Dream 5-on-5 street team

When asked who McGrady would want on his team if he pulled up to a street game he said, “Me, Kobe, Kyrie [Irving] and James Harden would mop everyone.”

When it was pointed out that he only named four players McGrady responded, “You know what’s crazy? I’m so used to playing four-on-four at my house. So i’ll give you one more, I would take Paul George.”

McGrady went on to compare the talent of Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry and how each of them are so talented that if they swapped teams, nothing would change for either side.

“It’s hard to say who’s better, because if you take Kyrie and put him on Golden State, do they win a championship? Absolutely. Is Steph able to do what Kyrie does with Lebron? Absolutely. It’s a wash. Neither one of them are great defenders. They both can score the hell out of the ball. One is more efficient than the other. I think Steph is a better passer, but as far as having the ball I don’t think anyone in the league is better than Kyrie.”


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