Tracy McGrady is already a rock star and he eventually thinks he should be a Hall of Famer.
My experience in China was great. I had a lot of fun over there. Chinese fans are unbelievable and they made me feel like a rock star. Every arena I showed up to was [sold out], and thousands of people were waiting just for my bus to pull up. The airport was just flooded with people.
For McGrady, experiencing that level of support was important. It instilled in him a new sense of self-worth. After countless knee injuries and failed comeback attempts, he needed to regain his confidence.
"To lose that, it was tough," he said. "To be playing on a high level for that many years and then you can’t get back to that level, going over there I got it back. I felt appreciated."
Nothing could make McGrady feel more appreciated than being inducted into the Hall of Fame, though. Winning a title with the San Antonio Spurs would give him a ring, something he doesn't have. Being elected into the Hall of Fame would immortalize him as a basketball player.
Which begs the question: Does he belong in The Hall?
McGrady himself thinks so.
“Just look at the numbers,” he said. “Look at my numbers for 11 seasons before I had my knee injury and then look at some of the guys in the Hall of Fame. Look at their numbers.”
Statistically speaking, McGrady has a case. For his career, the once prolific shooting guard is averaging 19.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game.
Only 14 other players in NBA history have matched such averages for their career. Of those 14, nine are current Hall of Famers, one is a (likely) future Hall of Famer (Chris Webber), three are active (Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade), while the other is Jamal Mashburn.
McGrady himself was specifically talking about the first 11 years of his career, in which he averaged 22.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Just seven other players were able to put up such marks for the first 11 years of their career.
Their names? Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, LeBron James, Rick Barry, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Webber.
T-Mac has numbers to support his claim, but the last half-decade or so of his career was spent unsuccessfully battling injuries. That's what people remember.
Also, McGrady could find himself on the same ballot as players like Kevin Garnett or Kobe Bryant, among others, depending on how much longer he plays. The ballot lineups will impact his standing.
To that end, McGrady has done all he can. His career all but over, there's not much he can do to strengthen his case. His chances are what they are.
He'll just have to wait and see if that's enough.