Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Standing Ovation: Tracy McGrady

I would like to give a standing ovation to Tracy McGrady as he leaves for China. T-Mac is one of my favorite players of all-time. Even as a diehard Mavericks fan, I have no problem admitting that.

I've always admired his physical gifts and talents on the basketball court. McGrady, in his prime, was a 6' 8" forward with the court vision of a top point guard and the finishing ability of a dominant big man. I've always felt that his biggest attribute was his extremely high basketball IQ -- respectable basketball minds such as Jeff Van Gundy even alluded to the fact that it may have been too high for his own good and was ultimately, a detriment to his success.

To this day, I still firmly believe that his versatility is unmatched. He could either face you up out in the perimeter, where he had the ability to rise up and shoot over you, or back you down in the post, using his supreme footwork and knowledge of angles. He was unstoppable in the pick and roll game and his length allowed him to be an above average defender (when he wanted to be) and rebounder.

At the peak of his powers, you couldn't guard him with single coverage nor could you guard him by sending a double team because he would pick you apart with his anticipation and passing ability. Schematically on defense, he left coaches in a bind. Plus, his jab step power dribble to a reverse pivot to a spinning fadeaway jumper from 20 feet is still one of the most physically ridiculous go-to moves ever.

Undoubtedly, injuries robbed him from having one of the best careers in league history, but I don't want him to be remembered for "what could have been." I want people to focus on his off the court accomplishments as well as what he's meant for the game of basketball.

I leave you with his own words from his blog:

Goodbye NBA, Hello China

There are times in life that a new road presents itself and it appears this time has come for me now. I am so proud of what I have accomplished these past 15 years playing in the NBA. It was a dream entering the league as I just turned 18 years old. I worked hard and poured my heart and soul into this game. I consider myself a student of the game as I have watched, studied and played with and against the best players in the world. The NBA was my University and I learned so much. The gratitude I feel is really immeasurable. I have experienced the best moments a player can experience and have had some dark ones too. Both equally important in helping shape me into the man I am today.

As I leave the league for now, there have been so many profound people who inspired me along my way. I have to say thank you for guiding me and having an enormous influence on the way I played basketball. Isaiah Thomas, Rich Devos, Leslie Alexander and John Gabriel, you believed in me and I thank you. Jeff Van Gundy, you exemplified the brilliance of what a great coach is. Steven A. Smith, you gave us players a voice and for that I thank you. Doug Christy, Charles Oakley, Dee Brown, Mugsy Bogues, Antonio Davis, Dell Curry, Kevin Willis, you all showed a young kid from Auburndale Florida how to be a better player. Kobe, you made me work harder and it was an honor to play against you. And Yao, we shared an experience together that will always be with me, thank you. Sonny & Pam Vaccarro showed me how there is loyalty and genuine friendship in this business. Arn Tellem and Tim Hoy, 15 years and you are still my agents. Thank you for guiding me throughout my career. When all is said and done, there is so many that made an impact on my life. I am one blessed man to have the love and never ending support of my wife CleRenda and the best 4 kids a man can ask for. But most important, I give glory and thanks to God. It is thru Him that I have been so blessed and I am forever thankful.

As I enter this next chapter, I am excited to play for Qingdao Eagles in China. I have been to China several times in the last few years and I love the people and the country. It will be an honor to play for them. Thank you to every fan that has followed me and believed in me. Injuries and all, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I am proud of the mark I left on this game and am grateful to have been a part this league. It was a dream to play in front of all of you, each night, in every stadium. Thank you.


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Amazingly, I said almost the same 4 words 6months earlier...

Goodbye MBA, Hello China

Oh, he also misspelled Doug Christie

Was also hoping for a shoutout to VC

But I guess we'll have to leave that for another chapter, maybe when VC joins him in China in <2 years.

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