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T-Mac: Unfulfilled Expectations

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Rivaldo2181, Feb 20, 2009.

  1. Rivaldo2181

    Rivaldo2181 Contributing Member

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    Good T-Mac article about his career: The unfulfilled expectations.

    LINK

    It was the summer of 2003.

    Everything was hunky-dory in Hollywood between Lakers teammates Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, LeBron James was merely a high school wunderkind with an unknown future, and Seattle still had a successful NBA franchise with a booming fan base.

    Tracy McGrady was soaring toward superstardom six years ago. (Ron Turenne / Getty Images)

    That May, a young, eighth-seeded Orlando Magic squad — coached by Doc Rivers and led by a 23-year-old superstar bursting onto the scene — had a 3-1 lead on the No. 1-seeded Detroit Pistons in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. That star — the uber-talented Tracy McGrady — led the league in scoring with a 32.1-points-per-game average during the regular season.

    Blessed with the physical gifts to conquer all things humanly possible on a basketball court, McGrady — a seven-year NBA vet at the time — was finally putting it all together. Long critiqued as unable to win the big games, "T-Mac" was having a first round few young stars had mustered before him. Carrying a young, undermanned squad on his wire-thin back, this was reminiscent of Dikembe Mutombo and the '93 Nuggets knocking off the No. 1-seeded Seattle SuperSonics.

    At that point, few would have argued the assertion that Tracy McGrady was on the very top of the basketball world.

    Prior to Game 5 of that now infamous Detroit-Orlando series, McGrady told reporters how great it was to "finally be in the second round (of the playoffs)."

    His Magic would go on to lose the final three games of the series by an average of 20 points.

    A year earlier, McGrady guaranteed a Game 5 victory over Baron Davis and the Charlotte Hornets in a first-round playoff series in which the Magic trailed 3-1. T-Mac slipped on a wet spot on the court midway through the first half, sat for the majority of the game, and watched as his Magic were bounced from the first round. Prior to a first-round series against Utah in '07, McGrady, now a Houston Rocket, told reporters, "If we don't win this series, it's on me."

    Houston lost in seven games. McGrady was nonexistent down the stretch.

    In truth, it became an all-too-common summer ritual. May meant Mother's Day, Memorial Day barbecues, and forgettable T-Mac first-round playoff exits.

    In all, McGrady has played in seven NBA postseasons. He's never won a playoff series. Along the way, there have been series lost to injuries, a nagging back that has haunted his whole career, trades, an endless string of family tragedies, and bouts with mental health courageously shared with the general public. There have also been empty guarantees, tear-filled postgame press conferences, and lots of waiting for one of the NBA's most perplexing characters to live up to his potential.

    With Wednesday's news of his decision to have microfracture knee surgery that will require him to shut it down for the rest of his 2008-09 season, McGrady's career takes another turn for the worse.

    Though he's somehow still only 29 years old, Tracy McGrady — once considered a potential heir apparent and future King of the NBA — is likely in the latter stages of his NBA career. He's played in more than 800 NBA games, logged more than 28,000 minutes, and has no doubt faced more setbacks and suffered more hiccups than several of his contemporaries along the way.

    A seven-time All-NBA selection still under the age of 30, McGrady is almost a forgotten piece of today's NBA fabric.

    He was not present, mentioned, or even thought of during last weekend's annual NBA All-Star Weekend festivities. When our country's best and brightest were putting together a team-oriented gold medal run in Beijing this summer, McGrady — arguably the most popular American player in China due to his connection with Chinese teammate Yao Ming — was not included.

    For a man that by most American standards is still in the prime years of his young adulthood, McGrady is a dismissed thought, a forgotten slice of the NBA's past decade.

    Fifteen years from now, the 2000s will likely be defined by Kobe, Duncan, Shaq, LeBron, D-Wade, and perhaps Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. McGrady, arguably the game's most dynamic offensive talent over the past 10 years, will sadly be an afterthought. An Alex English to Magic and Bird's 1980s. A Mitch Richmond to Michael and Hakeem's 1990s.

    But is it just to deem McGrady's career a "failure"?

    That's such a strong word, usually reserved for wasted talents and squandered dreams. Roy Tarpley is a failure. But T-Mac?

    Fragile? Perhaps. Conflicted? Maybe.

    But failure?

    Consider the positives. In 12 NBA seasons, McGrady's been an All-NBA selection seven times. He's played in seven All-Star Games, has won two NBA scoring crowns, and holds more than a half dozen Orlando Magic franchise records. He's signed monster contracts, put up huge numbers, and been a "Sports Center" mainstay with highlights that have spanned an entire generation.

    But then there are the negatives. He's 13-25 in playoff games, has never sniffed the second round of the NBA postseason, and was a loser in three straight first-round Game 7s during the prime of his career. Granted, in one of those Game 7s — a 2005 first-round battle with Dallas — he scored 40 points in a loss. But an L is an L. And though there are no "L"s in the word McGrady, his entire career can be summed up with the letter.

    In a league where superstars are measured with championships, McGrady has nothing but scoring crowns and Adidas advertisements.

    Perhaps it's his career — and not the squandered ones of Michael Ray Richardson, Jay Edwards, and the aforementioned Tarpley — that is the most tragic of all. McGrady's clean, has played the game the way it's supposed to be played for more than a decade, and possesses all the physical talent in the world. He just hasn't won. Ever.

    FreeDarko.com's Nathaniel Friedman, one of the authors behind 2008's The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac writes, "While McGrady has frequently played on winning teams, his playoff track record is a study in Sisyphean despair" ... "Somehow, the high-flying, tensile McGrady never seems wholly invested in the catharsis of raw action. He's been called lazy, in part because of his vaguely preternatural walleye, baritone Florida drawl, and loose-limbed gait, and even at his most ferocious gives the impression of semislumber. But there's too much pop in that first step, in those dunks, in the way his threes rip through the net" ... "With McGrady, the lows had come to feel especially low and cavernous."

    Chuck Klosterman, purveyor of all things pop culture and a columnist for Esquire, notes, "For whatever reason, I always associate McGrady with players like Penny Hardaway and Shawn Kemp. They all seem like guys who everyone concedes were tangibly great, yet they all seem to lack some unspecified, possibly imaginary quality that allowed them to cross over into the weirder, more transcendent tier of intangible greatness. Obviously, McGrady's not a bust — but it will always seem like he didn't fulfill something (even though we have absolutely no reason to believe he had the potential to be greater than we've already witnessed). I can't think of any other modern players who you could be asking this question about — I mean, the guy averaged over 24 points a game for most of his career, but his life still seems ... unsatisfying."


    Bothered by sore knees, McGrady hadn't played with his usual explosiveness this season. (Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images)

    Lang Whitaker, columnist for Slam Magazine — a publication that placed T-Mac on its list of 75 Greatest NBA Players of All-Time in 2003 — explains, "I guess the only thing he's failed at is in reaching the potential we all assigned to him. We saw his athleticism, his shooting, his skill, and I think NBA fans just assumed that he was going to get more rings than J-Lo. But consider this: Even with all he's accomplished, he's still not even 30 years old. Assuming he recovers from this knee surgery, we might see much, much more from him."

    Whitaker's hope is one that isn't without precedent. As recent as two years ago, Kevin Garnett was in a similar "Out Of Sight, Out of Mind" world of fog that McGrady currently lingers in today. A trade to Boston, an NBA ring, and a few triumphant screams into the video camera later — Garnett's now viewed as one of the NBA's most complete players, if not its fiercest competitor.

    Prior to last season's championship run, Garnett had only exited the first round of the NBA playoffs once in his 14-year career. KG lost seven straight first-round series before reaching the second round. Perhaps McGrady emerges from his knee surgery stronger and wiser than ever. Perhaps he stays with Houston and wins with Yao. Or perhaps he leaves Texas for greener pastures when his contract expires in 2010 and wins elsewhere.

    Maybe we shouldn't start stenciling out the epitaph on Tracy McGrady's NBA career just yet.

    But as the league forges forward with marketing around Kobe, LeBron, Paul, and Howard — you can't help but think of T-Mac as a man in the rearview mirror; an afterthought in a decade where youth was king.

    If there was a book on the NBA in the 2000s, McGrady's chapter would be one filled with confusion and unmet expectations.

    Or he might not even get a chapter at all.

    Here's to hoping that won't end up being the case. Here's to seeing T-Mac return and put all of his demons to rest. Small steps first — successful surgery, full recovery, a first-round victory — and who knows, maybe even an NBA championship.

    After all, he's still only 29.
     
  2. redao

    redao Member

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    He has overachieved considering the size of his heart.
     
  3. Shaunjon

    Shaunjon Member

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    Wasn't this posted a few days ago?
     
  4. Omer

    Omer Member

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    Great article, sums up T-Mac's career.

    But yeah, I still have hope like it says at the end of the article. There's always a chance that T-Mac gets surgery and gets it together for next season.

    Impossible is nothing.
     
  5. Luckkky

    Luckkky Member

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    AB is my favorite player :p
     
  6. Obito

    Obito Contributing Member

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    Exactly, and mcgrady has proven he is capable of doing the impossible.
     
  7. TheGreat

    TheGreat Member

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    Already posted this a day ago but yes, its sad
     
  8. StevieFlight3

    StevieFlight3 Member

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    I actually do think McGrady is going to come back strong next year. If for nothing else but to redeem his lost image and to make some more money.
     
  9. jedicro

    jedicro Member

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    Like getting bounced from 7 straight playoff series. Most would say tha'ts impossible.



    I'm sorry I couldn't help myself. Get better T-Mac. I hope you find success, whether or not that's with us.

    Although if you go to another tema and find the fountain of youth I will freaking hate you :mad:
     
  10. onreego

    onreego Member

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    He has?
     
  11. janpwnz

    janpwnz Member

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    The only reason we are not top 4 in the west right now was because we have been playing 4 v 5 basketball the whole time. TMac shouldn't have played with injury. Other injuries plagued through our rosters and the more significant ones are Ron and Shane who both had to limb through the first half of the season. We have great talent in this team and having Tmac will DEFINITELY give us a shot at the O'Brien Trophy, but I can still see us pass through the first round of playoff even without him. There are a couple of reasons why i think the Rockets will make, yet another good run in the 2nd halve of the season.

    1.) We don't need to play 4 v 5 anymore with T-mac left with a season ending injury.

    2.) Ron will step up to his game since he's taking over TMac's spot. If i remember right, we had a pretty good record with him at the 2 and he actually shoot quite well during the couple games he played when Tmac was sidelined.

    3.) Ron and Shane are both 100% now, that will definitely add another layer to our perimeter defense.

    4.) Emerge of Von Wafer and AB0 are very important. They both will see a significant increase in PT because of the cases from Rafer and TMac. We all know their game so i don't have to say nething more.

    5.) World Class PF in Luis Scola. A stud hides under the dirt. He's not athletic, but he is so skilled that he gave the DREAM TEAM many troubles for the recent years in International Tournaments. His role will definitely remain the same. A PF that does the dirty work. Chase after the loose ball and flop a charge here and there while scoring 13-14 pts with 10 rebounds per night.

    6.) Yao, well Yao's Yao. Unstoppable jump hooks..... list goes on.

    I think the Rockets have a chance to pass through the 1st round if they make a good run in the 2nd halve of the season to get the home court advantage. LETS GO ROX!!
     
  12. napalm06

    napalm06 Missed Three Pointer Enthusiast
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    Great article. Points out his obvious faults, but doesn't conclude that he is the devil incarnate or a man who kicks small animals like some on here would like to believe.

    That, my friends, remains to be determined. :D
     
  13. napalm06

    napalm06 Missed Three Pointer Enthusiast
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    1-5 I HEARTILY agree. Here's to the second half of the season.

    6. Yao has proven to be very stoppable. The team's entire success hinges on being able to use him properly. I have faith in the big man, though.
     
  14. abc2007

    abc2007 Member

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    I believe Tmac will be back!
     
  15. northeastfan

    northeastfan Member

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    In many ways, I agree. TSlack cost us 4 or 5 wins ... we'd be in second place in the west without that slacker.
     
  16. northeastfan

    northeastfan Member

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    Like blowing playoff series when up two games. Yup.
     
  17. T-macsterful1

    T-macsterful1 Member

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    because one player is responsible for those loses. Kobe didn't win all those titles himself, it took a hungry monster of a player like shaq, robert horry either one of the clutchest or luckiest shooters the game has ever seen and a very good team of role players for kobe to get his rings and get home where he is today. Maybe if Grant hill was healthy in Orlando we would've seen a much different side of t-mac in a winning player who dominated the court with his companion grant hill like Mj and Scottie.

    Some of the blame will always rest of t-mac but when a man drops 40 of your 80 points thats not his fault. If he's scoring at a higher clip and percentage than the rest of the team combined there's a severe issue. Now it has been different this year and possibly and points last year, but you have to give t-mac a little benefit of the doubt, if you won't let people talk about how good he was in orlando how bout you stop talking about all his playoff failures before houston. Then we begin to see the issue more so in the team than it's superstar player.
     
  18. Tfor3

    Tfor3 Member

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    lol---the article slams him and then tries to end positively

    Here's to seeing T-Mac return and put all of his demons to rest. Small steps first — successful surgery, full recovery, a first-round victory — and who knows, maybe even an NBA championship.
     
  19. cjstukenholtz

    cjstukenholtz Member

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    Here's a link to the first post on the thread that was concerning the T-Mac Trade from Orlando that has the video. It's near the 3:45 mark is when John Weisbrod gets on to the subject of trading T-Mac.

    When he goes to talking about how the game is a team sport and discusses the areas (leadership, making other players better, his competitive nature, winning being important) where there's room for improvement on T-Mac, I still think those are still true today, which is the reason he still hasn't advanced past the first round of the playoffs. Therefore, this video doesn't look out of date when it comes to Weisbrod's description of T-Mac even though over four and one-half years are gone.

    Link-->http://bbs.clutchfans.net/showpost.php?p=4038327&postcount=1
     
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