Tracy McGrady's NBA Career Defined by Spectacular Highlights

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistAugust 26, 2013

Tracy McGrady's NBA Career Defined by Spectacular Highlights

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    In 16 years of NBA service, Tracy McGrady put together one of the best highlight reels of all time. His career was built upon the big plays, and there were a ton of them. 

    Scratch that. 

    There were tons and tons of them. 

    From dunks to jumpers to spectacular layups (read in a Marv Albert voice) to one-on-one domination, McGrady just created highlight after highlight. 

    Now that he's pulled the plug on his NBA career, as announced on ESPN's First Take, it's time to take a retrospective look at those memorable plays, moments and traits that made T-Mac, well, T-Mac.  

    Put on your McGrady jersey—If you grew up in the '90s you probably have one—and reminisce with me. 

Thrived in the Clutch from the Beginning

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    To be fair, this play came a few years into Tracy McGrady's career, but it's not like he'd faded away down the stretch before it. 

    In 2001, T-Mac took down the Philadelphia 76ers with this running bank shot that dropped through for his 43rd and 44th points of the night. It was his first game-winner, but it wouldn't be even close to the final one of his career. 

    If a clutch gene exists, McGrady had it. 

Huge Dunks

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    If there's one enduring memory of Tracy McGrady, it's going to be him flying through the air and just absolutely posterizing a defender. 

    He did it at the beginning of his career (as you can see here), and the trend continued throughout his entire time in the NBA. No defender was safe when T-Mac was on the court, because he wanted everybody to be a part of his career poster. 

Premier Inside-Outside Threat

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    One of McGrady's defining traits was that he stood out as a premier inside-outside threat. Sure, he could dunk over everyone, but each defender was forced to respect his shot as well as his driving ability. 

    T-Mac averaged 1.2 made three-pointers on 33.8 percent shooting throughout his career, but the highlight was this game against the Cleveland Cavaliers when he drained eight triples in the first half. 

    With McGrady, you just had to pick your poison. 

Great Finishing at the Basket

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    These fancy layups and finger-rolls around the rim might not stand out as much as his monstrous dunks, but they were every bit as impressive. While guys like Monta Ellis are known as modern-day finishing aces, they still pale in comparison to T-Mac in his prime. 

    Personally, that spinning 360 layup (the very first play in the highlight video for some reason) is one of my all-time favorite plays. His creativity, touch and ridiculously long arms just all worked to his advantage. 

Creative Genius

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    Speaking of creativity...

    WHO DOES THIS?? Sorry, but the caps-lock is necessary because no one thought about going off the backboard to himself before Tracy McGrady did it in the 2002 All-Star game. 

    As B/R's Roy Burton points out, it wasn't the first time T-Mac had done it, but it was the first time on the national stage. 

That Pull-Up

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    If Tracy McGrady had a go-to move, it was the pull-up jumper. 

    While he thrived in just about every offensive aspect of basketball, that hesitation or between-the-legs dribble that led into a pull-up was undeniably deadly. Even if a defender knew what was coming, he had absolutely no way to stop the shot. 

    He just had to hope that T-Mac would miss, and he usually wouldn't. 

Impossible to Stop One-on-One

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    I'd highly suggest watching this entire video of McGrady and Kobe Bryant going one-on-one against each other, but all you need to do is watch the first play from the point to see just how unstoppable T-Mac could be. 

    With a quick first step, unbounded reserves of athleticism and energy, that deadly jumper and supreme finishing ability, McGrady was impossible to guard in isolation sets. 

    If Synergy Sports had existed in the early 2000s, he might have broken the system. 

He Apparently Hated Shawn Bradley

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    I have no idea how well McGrady and Shawn Bradley got along off the court, but it kind of seems like the dunking machine hated the big man, at least based on this play. 

    There's ferocious, and then there's however you want to describe this legendary dunk over the 7-footer. 

    Even McGrady looked impressed with himself. 

And Just for Good Measure, More Big Dunks

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    Limiting the highlight reel to just 10 McGrady dunks is a Sisyphean task. There are actually multiple top 100 dunk videos on YouTube. 

    But regardless, I know what you want.

    You want more T-Mac dunks. 

How Could Anyone Forget His Explosive Scoring Ability?

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    What else could I leave you with? 

    This is the sequence that defines McGrady, showcasing his supreme confidence, explosive scoring ability and legendary exploits in the moments that determine the outcome of games. Thirteen points in 35 seconds to win a game—against the Gregg Popovich-led San Antonio Spurs, no less—should not be possible. 

    I've watched this video at least 100 times, and I have yet to fully accept that McGrady was able to make all those increasingly difficult shots.