Six years ago, people would laugh at the thought that Tracy McGrady would end up as a role player in the future.
A seven-time All-Star, a two-time NBA scoring champion and a future Hall-of-Famer, it was never a question, not even an inkling of doubt on Tracy's greatness.
However, with an injury-laden career, those glory days are seemingly over.
Tracy was like a veteran boxer who refused to accept defeat and continued to fight, hoping for that one redemption to get him back on top.
Bounced around for four different teams in two seasons, quitting was never an option. It was about getting back and proving everybody wrong.
This was the same player who scored 13 points in 35 seconds on a game against the San Antonio Spurs, including a steal and the game winning three-point shot in the 2004-2005 season.
He had always been a leader, a clutch shooter...and when it mattered, Tracy became the game's biggest closer.
He could drop 62 points and averaged 28 points per game, but he never got past the first round in the playoffs. This was his Achilles heel—a label that somehow haunted him throughout.
T-Mac wanted that chance—redemption that could somehow prove his legacy that he is just more than skills and empty promises.
The NBA is on a shorter season—a shorter route to a championship, and this could be that one magical run for McGrady. This could be the promise of going deep into the playoffs, and maybe winning a ring in return.
Everyone thought his career was over until Atlanta took the risk and signed him up. The team knew how fragile and risky Tracy is with all his injuries. However, they knew that sometimes little steps can get you back on top…you just have to let them try.
For Tracy, he got another opportunity…another shot on that elusive first round.
He had been in the benched for too long, mostly in street clothes and this has become a reality check for him—one man could not carry a team.
Tracy McGrady knows his role in Atlanta. He would be having limited minutes and sometimes get to stay more often in the bench. But he could help this team to reach their true potential. He could be the big brother and the guiding voice.
Although he won’t be the scoring champion anymore, somehow being there can be equally effective.
This time, last chance entails a definite promise.
“You should have seen me when I put on my uniform. I felt like a kid all over again.” -Tracy McGrady
Jess Matthew Beltran is also a blog contributor of Gold Star Games, a tailgate gear company.