Tracy McGrady is headed to the NBA Finals.
Who would have ever expected that? After all, this is the same guy who faced criticism his entire career for failures in the playoffs. There were eight playoff teams he was a part of. Each one lost in the first round.
McGrady was out with an injury when the Houston Rockets advanced to the second round in 2009.
Life in the NBA has indeed been tough for a guy who was once considered a superstar. He was voted to seven NBA All-Star games and was a two-time scoring champion.
From playoff failures to repeated injuries to a stint playing in China, it seemed his career was over—until the Spurs signed him in April.
San Antonio releasing Stephen Jackson and signing McGrady could be considered fate.
The Spurs have signed several members of the 1997 NBA draft class over the years (Jackson, Antonio Daniels, Ron Mercer, Austin Croshere, Derek Anderson, Jacque Vaughn and now McGrady). That draft, as we know, brought Tim Duncan to San Antonio.
Out of that group, Jackson, Daniels and Vaughn have won a championship with the Spurs. Now it may be McGrady's turn.
However, he won't be a major contributor.
McGrady has only seen brief fourth-quarter action in four games during the 2013 NBA playoffs. He has yet to take a shot. But there are no complaints about taking an end-of-the-bench type of role.
Several NBA veterans have signed with teams in hopes of earning their first championship or one more championship before retiring.
For McGrady, this is deeper than that. His story is more revolved around redemption and overcoming long-standing obstacles.
The first obstacle was staying healthy. Check. The next was having an opportunity to play in the NBA again after a short tenure with the Atlanta Hawks. Check.
Then came one of his biggest hurdles—finally winning a playoff series. Check.
Granted, McGrady probably would have liked to play a bigger role in achieving that particular milestone. Still, he was on the court to savor the moment.
When the buzzer sounded in Memphis and the Spurs were officially headed to another NBA Finals, he got to experience a locker room celebration and possibly even held the Western Conference finals trophy.
Now comes the opportunity that seemed impossible—a chance at earning a championship ring.
If Miami wins its Eastern Conference finals series, McGrady will have a chance to win that championship in his native state of Florida.
It could be a fairy tale ending to what is likely McGrady's last NBA season.