Tracy McGrady has officially signed with a team in China for the upcoming season, which means his mostly illustrious 15-year career as an NBA player has – for the time being – come to a close. For those of us that remember the days when McGrady’s level of play was at least on par with that of Kobe Bryant, this appears to mark the end of a journey that promised great things but was too often hindered by health issues. It’s a shame to see that he is not leaving the NBA on his own terms – the Knicks preferred to sign a retired 38-year-old Rasheed Wallace over McGrady – but the letter he wrote on his blog page would indicate anything but sadness or regret. Here are some notable quotes from his touching and insightful letter:
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.
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.
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.
McGrady should enjoy his time in China, given his immense popularity there thanks to his days of partnership with Yao Ming. The NBA will surely miss his presence, and the heartfelt memo makes you hope for his best in China. He may no longer be the player he once was, but we won’t soon forget the ridiculous things he could do on the basketball court.