Is Tracy McGrady the Savior of the NBA?

Mitch Kunzler@@MitchKunzlerContributor IIIAugust 2, 2010

It's ironic that the true nature of war brings out the true nature of warriors.

The nature of war in today's NBA has stepped up. It's time for the players to step up as well. Especially Tracy McGrady.

With all the T-Mac talk going around, I, as one of the biggest Tracy McGrady fans of all time, feel that it is my responsibility to give my input on the 6'8" superstar.

First of all, I have to say that I am extremely loyal. I pick a favorite player and follow them around. Whatever team they play for becomes my favorite team. Growing up, Michael Jordan was always that favorite player. I loved watching him. I, as well as thousands of basketball fans, adored Jordan.

However, when Michael Jordan retired after the 1998 NBA Finals, my favorite player was gone. I had no backups. I had no idea what I should do or who I should root for. So, I decided to watch a lot of

Kobe Bryant caught my attention rather quickly. He was one player that reminded me of Jordan in every way. So he fell into that position.

Then one day, while watching a Raptors game, I noticed one player wearing my favorite number: 1. This player immediately snatched my attention by performing a windmill dunk, and from that moment forward, Tracy McGrady was one my two favorite players. I have followed him ever since. I cheered with him at his high points. I stuck with him at his low points. And to this day, I continue to stick with both him and Kobe. I plan on doing so until they retire. 

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But now, with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh all on the same team, there is a lot of talk of Tracy getting traded. Basically, where McGrady goes could very well have an impact on the future of basketball.

Most NBA fans assume that the Lakers and the Heat will be facing each other in the NBA Finals for the next little while. This would mean that the NBA would be put into a "Dark Age," essentially destroying basketball for everyone except Lakers and Heat fans for years to come. Unless we want this to happen, then we need to look to McGrady as the last hope.

This, I know, raises a million questions. One of which is:

Other than your biased opinion on McGrady, what makes you think that T-Mac could save the NBA from this new threat?

I can explain, but let's start at the beginning:

Tracy Lamar McGrady's story begins in his high school days at Mt. Zion Christian Academy in North Carolina. In high school, Tracy instantly proved himself as something special, and by the end of the year, he had emerged as the High School Player of the Year (chosen by USA Today).

Tracy jumped from high school directly into the NBA, getting drafted first-round, ninth pick by the Toronto Raptors. While in Toronto, McGrady was often times in the shadow of his third-cousin, Vince Carter.

McGrady's third year on the Raptors however, is when he began to shine. McGrady averaged about two blocks per game, along with 15.4 points per game, shooting 87.5 percent from the free throw line. He also took third in the slam dunk contest. Afterwards, McGrady and Carter managed to bring the Raptors to the playoffs for the first time in Toronto franchise history, where they were eventually eliminated by the Knicks.

After the season, McGrady wanted to leave Toronto. He was tired of being overshadowed by someone who he was clearly better than. Despite Vince opposing T-Mac's decision, Tracy was traded to Orlando to play for the Magic. When all was said and done, McGrady was content and Carter was bitter.

The Magic turned out to be a good fit for McGrady. After learning of Grant Hill's ankle injury, the Orlando team looked to McGrady as their leader. And just like that, though very young, he evolved into the superstar that his team needed him to become. He shot 45.7 percent from the court, while averaging 26.8 points per game. He was then selected to be an All-Star, and won the NBA's Most Improved Player award.

The Magic then entered into the playoffs, where, despite McGrady's monster 33.8 points per game and 8.3 assists per game, the Magic lost to the Bucks.

In the 2002-2003 season, McGrady averaged 32.1 points and clenched the NBA scoring title, the youngest player to ever do so. Afterward, McGrady and the Magic made the playoffs as the No. 8 seed, meaning they would be facing the No. 1 seed: The Detroit Pistons.

Miraculously, T-Mac and company went up 3-1 games on the Pistons, and it looked as though the Magic would be advancing. However, the Pistons suddenly caught fire and won the next three games in a row, beating the Magic 4-3.

The following season, McGrady once again was able to capture the scoring title with 28.0 points per game. McGrady also managed to drop 62 points on the Washington Wizards.

The next season, McGrady was traded to the Houston Rockets, where he would team up with the 7'6" center, Yao Ming. What Tracy didn't know however, was that because of injuries, he and Yao would seldom be on the court at the same time.

During McGrady's first year in Houston, one of the most amazing comebacks in sports history was accomplished. It would be later known as "T-Mac's Comeback."

The event was on December, 9, 2004, as the Rockets were playing the San Antonio Spurs. It was late in the fourth quarter, the Spurs were up by 10 with 33 seconds to go, when suddenly McGrady hit four 3-pointers in a row, one of which was a four-point-play.

The final three-pointer came as Tracy stole the ball from Devin Brown with only seconds remaining, launched it up as time expired, and drained it, making 13 points in 33 seconds. The Rockets came away with the victory 81-80. It was phenomenal. The basket seemed as big as the ocean to him that game, and I knew I had witnessed a true miracle that day.

In the playoffs, despite averages of 30.7 points, 6.7 assists, and 7.4 rebounds, Tracy was not able to top the Mavericks, despite the Rockets being up two games to zero on Dallas.

During the series, however, there was one moment that will never be forgotten. It was when Tracy drove past Nowitzki and jumped on 7'6" Shawn Bradley's shoulders as he dunked the ball. The announcer proclaimed that McGrady, "sucked the gravity right out of the building."

The 2005-2006 season was a disaster for McGrady, where, throughout the season, he was constantly plagued with back spasms. The Rockets went 2-15 in games he didn't play, and 2-16 in games that he wasn't able to finish. It was remarkably sad.

But even with his constant injuries, McGrady was selected for the 2006 All-Star game in Houston. During this game, Tracy scored a game-high 36 points. However, a controversial moment came in the closing seconds of the game as T-Mac pulled up for the winning shot.

Replay cameras would later show that as McGrady went up for the shot, LeBron James hit McGrady's elbow, causing the shot to fall short. The foul was never called, which allowed the East to win, and LeBron James (what a chump) to win the All-Star MVP award.

In 2006-2007, despite more back spasms, McGrady had to step up as Yao went down with a foot injury. As Tracy continued to score, he became the third youngest player in NBA history to get 14,000 points and 4,000 rebounds. But, despite his season average of 24.6 points and 6.5 assists per game, the Utah Jazz managed to beat the Rockets in seven games.

The next season, Yao once again went down with another injury. McGrady also went down with a shoulder injury, and two knee injuries. But, despite the injuries, T-Mac knew that his team needed him. He lead the Rockets to win 22 games in a row.

In the playoffs, the Rockets once again faced the Jazz where they were outmatched in six games. On the last game of the series, with bandages and braces on his knees, and a brace-pad on his shoulder, McGrady dropped 40 points and snatched up 10 rebounds in the 113-91 loss.

The following season, McGrady chose to get a season-ending surgery on his left knee. This surgery put him out until the next season.

In the 2009-2010 season, McGrady came off the bench with the Rockets, where he shot 50 percent from the three-point line, one of the highest percentages in the NBA. He was then traded to the Knicks where he finished out the season.

And now here we are. The time is now. So what should we realize from T-Mac's career? Well here is what he accomplished:


NBA's Most Improved Player Award (2004)
Two Scoring Titles (2003,2004)
Seven-Time NBA All-Star (2001-2007)
Third Place in the Slam Dunk Contest (2000)
Two Times in All-NBA First-Team (2002,2003)
Three Times in All-NBA Second-Team (2001,2004,2007)
Two Times in All-NBA Third-Team (2005,2008)
Tied the NBA Record for Most 3-Pointers In One Half with 8.
Scored 62 Points in One Game (2004)
Scored 13 points in 33 seconds
Has Four Career Triple-Doubles
Has scored over 40 Points 45 Times
Has scored over 50 Points Four Times

Although he only played four seasons in Orlando, he has the Magic records for:

Magic Records:

Most All-Time Free Throws (1,819)
Most Points in One Game (62)
Most Points in One Half (37)
Most Points in One Quarter (25)
Most Free Throws in One Game (18)
Most Points in a Playoff Game (46)
Most Three-Pointers in One Half (8)

Tracy McGrady's All-Time Regular Season Stats:

21.5 PPG
4.7 APG
6.0 RPG
43.5 Percent FG Percentage

Tracy McGrady'S All-Time Playoff Stats:

28.5 PPG
6.2 APG
6.9 RPG
43 Percent FG Percentage

He's averaged 28.5 points per game in the playoffs! That's nuts! An average like that is outstanding! McGrady has had quite the career so far. He has proved himself as one of the league's elite players. Tracy has been amazing. I really think that a T-Mac in his prime could compete Kobe in his prime. Really.

Let's not forget that McGrady has been on bad teams his whole career, I mean the best player he has ever had on his team is Yao Ming, who:

1. Is average at best, 2. Whines more than Adam Morrison, and 3. is extremely injury prone.

Now, in 2010, is McGrady's chance. Depending on where he ends up, Tracy McGrady could actually have a supporting cast around him. Tracy, though aging, can finally show everyone who he truly is.

Which brings us to the next question: Where will he end up?

Here are the likely possibilities:

1. Bulls

Chicago is the most likely destination for Tracy McGrady. I am confident that a team with Rose, McGrady, Korver, Boozer, Deng, Noah, etc. would manhandle the new Heat team, and wreak havoc in the East. Plus, when we look at last year's Bulls team, the only position that they really struggled from was shooting guard. So, if everything works out, Tracy could be the star player on an extremely talented and dangerous Bulls team.

2. Lakers

Los Angeles has shown a slight interest in the 6'8" guard. Tracy would draw the double teams off Kobe and allow T-Mac and the Black Mamba to torment every team they played. Tracy can also play pretty much any position, so he could fill in where needed. Who knows? He could end up being the Lakers' life off of the bench. The current Laker squad plus McGrady would guarantee yet another championship for L.A.

3. Magic

I could see McGrady returning back to the Magic to join his cousin Vince Carter in one final run for the title. It would be an emotional and epic journey, and it would get TONS of publicity. McGrady could be the missing piece in completing the Magic's championship puzzle.

There are endless possibilities to Tracy McGrady's future. Although he may seem as though he is out of gas, I think that there is a lot more to T-Mac than meets the eye.

The most likely option at this point is Chicago. If he ends up in Chicago, I have a feeling he will explode. It will be a resurgence that would not be very different from Randy Moss's. Tracy could be the dark horse player who brings his next team to the finals. We just have to give him the room and support to do it. Let him try. We have nothing to lose.

It is obvious that Tracy is a key player to have. It could very well be his destiny to save the NBA from the looming "Dark Age." He might be the chosen one.

I'm not saying that Tracy McGrady is the best player in the NBA.

I'm saying for all we know, he could be.