It pains me to even write this story, because Tracy McGrady is one of my favorite players to ever play this game. At one time, he was arguably the best player in the entire league. He could do just about everything on the court, and did it all well (and some things great). He had the shoe deal (Adidas), the buzzer-beaters, the All-Star Game moments (remember the alley off the backboard in 2002), the dunks (when he yulllllled on the back of Shawn Bradley’s neck in Game One of the 2005 Playoffs). Even though T-Mac failed to get out of the first round, you still respected his gangsta, because he came out to play every single game.
Those days seem like a distant memory now. It seems like if it ain't one thing, it’s another for The Once-Great Tracy McGrady. He’s missed a number of games due to various injuries, from the knee, to the back, to the psyche, and despite the fact the Rockets have a very solid team, it’s been difficult for them to play together for a substantial period of time. If it’s not him missing time, it’s Yao. If it’s not Yao, it’s Artest. If it’s not Artest, it’s Battier. See the pattern here? These guys make reservations to stay in the hospital, and T-Mac is the got dang concierge! The problem is, no matter what, people will continue to blame Tracy McGrady for Houston’s shortcomings. For me, I knew his stock hit rock-bottom when one of my favorite publications, Dime Magazine, had a poll about who was better between him and Manu Ginobili (From DIME - Who's Better: Tracy McGrady or Manu Ginobili), and while I respect Manu Ginobili's game, anyone with basketball sense knows that when T-Mac was on top of his game, he was TWICE as good as Ginobili will ever be. Period.
At this point, it’s pretty safe (and sad) to say his best years are behind him. It’s especially tough for some of us that remember McGrady when he was in the top-five in the league, but even the biggest McGrady fans (me included) will admit he is a shell of himself. He may be able to win a championship, but it’s not gonna be in the lead role. He’d have to take a KG role, and become a second or even third option, for him to get that elusive championship. There’s no reason it can’t happen in Houston. All of the pieces are there; we just need for him to stay on the court long enough for it to happen.