Tracy McGrady Talks Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Playing Against Michael Jordan

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2020

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 13: NBA Legend, Tracy McGrady looks on during the LA Clippers game against the Houston Rockets on November 13, 2019 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Tracy McGrady learned a lot from his peers during his Hall of Fame career.

The 40-year-old guard discussed several notable interactions with players on the latest episode of All the Smoke:

McGrady entered the league in 1997, one year after Kobe Bryant, and was able to improve by watching the Los Angeles Lakers star work outside of games.

Bryant advised him not to play pickup games because they didn't provide enough opportunities.

"Don't play pickup ball. Work on your skills, and I promise you that s--t is going to pay off," McGrady said Bryant told him. "You go play pickup ball, you're going to get a few shots here, when you could go and work on your skills every day and put up 500 to 1,000 shots."

Bryant is entering the Hall of Fame as part of the 2020 class alongside Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, and McGrady said he relished playing against each of them. He was especially impressed with what Garnett did on the court at his prime.

"This man is on another planet, bro, the way he was playing," McGrady said. "He was unguardable, unstoppable and he was talking s--t."

"You can't teach what he brought to the game," he added of the Big Ticket.

Along with his matchups against the stars of his generation, McGrady overlapped with other all-time greats, including Michael Jordan.

T-Mac entered the league in Jordan's last season with the Chicago Bulls, and he said he was "shaking in my boots" the first time he played against the superstar.

"I ain't gonna lie to you, the man had a glow," McGrady joked about Jordan.

Despite the initial trepidation, the guard figured out how to compete.

"That mystique wears off if you're around somebody for a long time," McGrady said. "... I damn near had my best game as a rookie playing against him—I almost had a triple-double."

McGrady finished with 12 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and five blocks in that game against Chicago during his rookie year with the Toronto Raptors.

He earned seven All-Star selections and two scoring titles in his 16-year NBA career.