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FOXSports.com article, T-Mac in Houston

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by thatboyz, Oct 18, 2004.

  1. thatboyz

    thatboyz Contributing Member

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    http://msn.foxsports.com/story/3075086
    http://msn.foxsports.com/story/3075048
    http://msn.foxsports.com/story/3068282

    McGrady knocked down, but not out
    Jonathan Feigen
    Posted: 38 minutes ago




    Tracy McGrady took one last look at the damage and finally left it behind.


    The hopes and expectations of glory that had brought him home to Orlando were reduced to rubble. Similar to the way his career played out with the Magic, most of the destruction that came to Florida missed McGrady at first. But in the end, it got him, too. The first three hurricanes came and went, wrecking so much around him. Then Hurricane Jeanne smashed through his Orlando property and sent him off with one final reminder of broken dreams. McGrady surveyed the wreckage to the palace he had purchased, the broken walls and shattered glass, then bordered his charter for Houston and a new life.





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    McGrady knows. Most athletes do. But McGrady is different in that he admits it.



    He knows what has been said about him. He knows what has become of his reputation. He knows the doubts about him, even with his wondrous skills, that have made their way around the NBA.



    "When you lose in this league ... it's open season," says Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy. "They will try to assassinate your basketball character. It's happened to him. It's happened to a lot of people. It doesn't make it true."



    In June, the Rockets closed in on a seven-player trade that would bring them the two-time scoring champion. But then the trade dangled for two weeks -- and the snickers were not hard to hear. McGrady heard enough talk throughout last season's disaster with the Magic to know what was being said.


    Much of the Rockets' success will depend on whether Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady can co-exist on the court. (Eugene Hoshiko / AP)



    "Who got criticized when we didn't play well? Steve (Francis) and Yao (Ming)," says Rockets forward Maurice Taylor. "That's the burden of being the best player on your team. I don't think that had anything to do with (McGrady) as a person. But when you're the best player on your team and you're making the most money, they're always going to target you."



    Most of the criticism of the trade centered on the images of the Rockets' new franchise player and the coach he would have to adjust to. McGrady was cast in the role of the pampered, uncaring, spoiled superstar. Van Gundy was assigned his usual part as the dour, cranky taskmaster.



    As with most cliches, there were some inaccuracies from the start. For a "taskmaster," Van Gundy gives a lot of days off, far more than "good guy, players coach" Rudy Tomjanovich ever did in Houston. After two days of training camp, Van Gundy cut the two-a-day schedule back to one daily practice. After four days, he offered a day off.



    For a "loafer," McGrady somehow has worked himself into outstanding shape. Arms that were once so slender they could pick locks now show bulk and definition that McGrady could not have picked up while fishing.



    But last season was not about image or appearances. Kevin Garnett never allowed his team to go 21-61. McGrady did. Tim Duncan never threatened to retire two weeks into a season because he did not like the defenses he faced. McGrady did. Michael Jordan never chose to stop defending. McGrady was a turnstile by the end of his last season in Orlando.



    McGrady denies none of that. He seems offended by knocks on his work ethic, but the rest of the criticism is fair game -- and he knows his past transgressions won't fly with Van Gundy. There is a sense that by admitting his failings, McGrady intentionally is arming his critics to fire at him again.



    "Because you are the best player, the finger is pointed at you," he says. "It's how you handle the criticism. I could have handled things better in the media. There were some things I said I would have definitely taken back. But it was a frustrating time in my career that I wasn't accustomed to. Hopefully I won't experience that again, but if so, I'll know how to handle that."



    Perhaps, but that still does not speak to the mix of McGrady and Van Gundy. McGrady says he has heard from players that had played for Van Gundy's mentor, Pat Riley. Most of the talk centered on grueling practices. McGrady says he chose to ignore criticisms as whining "from players that don't like to work." He spent the first week of his first Rockets training camp raving about Van Gundy's attention to detail.



    "This is a different training camp," McGrady says. "He's a great coach. He's teaching every little technique about the game. It's more mental, intense. Everybody is real focused, not going through the motions. Coach is very defensive-minded. He's a great teacher, and I'm learning a lot.



    "I don't get what everybody is saying: 'He's not coachable.' All my coaches have been learning from me as I've been learning from them because they have all been first-time coaches. I knew what kind of coaching style Jeff Van Gundy had. I know what kind of person he was. If I was somebody that didn't care about basketball and didn't want to get better, this would have been a bad choice for me. I know he's going to make me better. I know he's going to make our team better. That's all that matters to me.



    Of course, McGrady has not lost a game yet, much less been through one of those long West Coast trips. But few believe he will have to handle a season as horrid as his last in Orlando. Scouts and general managers who initially mocked the marriage of Van Gundy and McGrady now say the issues that became intractable in Orlando are irrelevant in Houston.



    There might be an advantage for the Rockets in getting McGrady the season after so much failure brought so much condemnation. By the time Phil Jackson arrived in Los Angeles, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant had been humbled enough to want his help. Rasheed Wallace arrived in Detroit with a chance to redefine himself.



    McGrady arrives in Houston aware of the hits to his reputation and "starving" to go from young superstar to the echelon of consistent winners Garnett, Duncan, Bryant and O'Neal.



    "I really don't care about all the accolades," McGrady says. "It's about the team now. I've accomplished a lot of things individually.



    "The ultimate goal is to win a championship. I'm not just happy with being in the playoffs. I think I'm the kind of player that really needs to be on that big stage, and that's what I'm hoping for."





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    All the preseason happy talk and clashes of reputation and reality seem to ignore the 7-6 Chinese center in the middle of the room. For the McGrady move to work in Houston, McGrady and Yao will have to fit together well enough to elevate both players' games. McGrady will not shoot as often as he did in Orlando and will have to like it. Yao cannot hang around the top of the key when one of the league's most gifted scorers is on the perimeter.


    "I have no concerns about Yao and Tracy playing well together. It worked with Steve and Yao."


    — Jeff Van Gundy



    "I have no concerns about Yao and Tracy playing well together," Van Gundy says. "It worked with Steve and Yao. I'll say it again; Steve Francis had a very good year last year. I don't want to hear his scoring was down or his assists were down or his percentages were down. Everybody wants it to be rotisserie basketball. It's what it takes to win.



    "McGrady and Yao will play very well together, too. You can bring anyone in here to play with Yao, and there would be no problems because Yao is going to play right. He's going to pass when he should and shoot when he should. I've watched a lot of film on Tracy. Because he took a lot of shots everybody wants to call him selfish. He took some off-balance shots, yes, but he passed when guys were open. He made the right play."



    Besides, if McGrady does not shoot, who will? This is not a team overrun with scoring champions. The real measure will be McGrady's defense, and Van Gundy offers similar positive predictions in that area -- even if they also sound like demands.



    "I don't have any worries," Van Gundy says. "Tracy McGrady is going to be one of the premier perimeter defenders in the NBA. He has everything you need from a talent standpoint to be that."





    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------



    Orlando still is home. The house will be repaired and sold, but McGrady will move into another central Florida castle.



    But for now, McGrady is looking forward to closing on the Houston home he picked out. Once owned by former Astros pitcher Shane Reynolds, the house includes a fullcourt gym, a weight room big enough to exhaust a Nebraska offensive lineman and living rooms that could host a royal wedding.



    "It's great," McGrady says. "I'm looking forward to it."



    Within weeks, he will move. It is time to move on.



    "It was a hard time in Florida this summer," McGrady says. "There was a lot of devastation around. But it's over."
     
  2. DnD

    DnD Member

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    I am sooo hyped up for this season. Why can't it just start already!! :mad:
     
  3. JuanValdez

    JuanValdez Contributing Member

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    :eek: :eek: :eek:
     
  4. canoner2002

    canoner2002 Contributing Member

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    I think MoT should be reminded that he is also making A LOT OF MONEY!
     
  5. Dr of Dunk

    Dr of Dunk Clutch Crew

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    But he said,

    "But when you're the best player on your team and you're making the most money, they're always going to target you."

    Therefore, it does not apply to him. Man, that Mo's smart. ;)
     
  6. bob718

    bob718 Contributing Member

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    Well, I would say MoT is our second best player on the offensive end.
     
  7. room4rentsf

    room4rentsf Contributing Member

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    I would say MoT is our second best powerforward and I will stick by that.

    Also our second best offensive PF.

    J
     
  8. dugtzu

    dugtzu Contributing Member

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    well, he certainly wont argue with that....
     
  9. DavidS

    DavidS Contributing Member

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    If Cat Mobley was a Power Foward, he'd be MoT. They play the same way. Just different bodies and positions. Shooter/scorers. No pass.
     
  10. rockbox

    rockbox Around before clutchcity.com

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    But Cat plays defense and runs non stop where MoT is quite crappy on defense.
     
  11. DavidS

    DavidS Contributing Member

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    True. Ouch for MoT! :(
     
  12. sabonis

    sabonis Contributing Member

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    Does anyone remember when McGrady was in Toronto and playing limited minutes? When he came off the bench, he was a monster defensively... he would get 2-3 blocks and steals regularly in 14-20 minutes... some of my stats may be off, but when I was playing fantasy basketball, I was amazed to see his defensive stats... when he got to Orlando, the blocks really went down, most likely because he focused on offense more.

    Stuart
     
  13. sabonis

    sabonis Contributing Member

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    Alright so it was more like 2 blocks and 1 steal in limited minutes.. but it still remains his highest/per minute average in those two categories

    Stuart
     
  14. douglasreedy1

    douglasreedy1 Member

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    I remember those numbers... I think he'll start to approach numbers like that again. Hopefully Yao and Howard/Taylor can take enough of the offensive load off of him so he can concentrate on other areas of the game while not wearing himself out.
     

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