Ranking the 'What Ifs' of Tracy McGrady's Tantalizingly Brief Career

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Ranking the 'What Ifs' of Tracy McGrady's Tantalizingly Brief Career
Feng Li/Getty Images

It certainly isn't every day that a former NBA All-Star retires at age 34, but there's been nothing "everyday" about Tracy McGrady's career—not in terms of normality, and not in terms of playing on anything resembling an everyday basis.

That was never a function of talent. T-Mac's career numbers are impressive enough, but it's worth remembering he never averaged fewer than 25.6 points in his four seasons with the Orlando Magic, even topping 32 points per game in 2002-03.

Though his earliest calling card was a flair for impossible dunks and smooth maneuvering to the basket, McGrady blossomed into one of the league's most versatile scorers without sacrificing a commitment to making plays for others. There was a brief moment there when he seemed destined to rival Kobe Bryant as the post-Jordan generation's best perimeter superstar. 

So it shouldn't have come as any surprise when the Houston Rockets parted ways with Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley in their deal for McGrady. He seemed the perfect complement to Yao Ming who was himself entering his third season.

It never worked out, though, and the remainder of McGrady's career was sidetracked by injuries and limited opportunities. There's no room for sentiment in this business. 

But that doesn't mean we can't be a little sentimental, even wondering what might have been had fate taken to McGrady more kindly.

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