The Toronto Raptors possessed one of the most dynamic and electrifying scoring tandems the league had ever seen at the turn of the century. The only problem? Nobody knew.
Now, nearly fifteen years and six NBA teams later, Tracy McGrady is playing in his first NBA Finals with the San Antonio Spurs. Yesterday, McGrady admitted that he and his cousin, Vince Carter, had squandered an opportunity to build a dynasty by not staying together north of the border.
At the Spurs’ press conference yesterday, McGrady told the Toronto Suns’ Ryan Wolstat:
“At that time, I think Toronto probably could have competed for championships with the Lakers, that’s what I think.”
However, the Raptors never had an opportunity to realize their full potential. In 2000, McGrady, who was tired of playing in Vince Carter’s shadow, left the Raptors in a sign-and-trade for a max contract in his hometown of Orlando.
McGrady does not blame himself nor the Raptors for the premature ending to what could have been a championship team. Looking back, McGrady admits that he was never sure he would amount to the two-time scoring champion and seven-time all star that he became.
“Toronto, they didn’t know I was capable of that type of performance as far as scoring. I didn’t (even) know I had that in me,” he admitted.
After all, while McGrady was certainly a blue chipper with the Raptors, few could have foreseen him nearly double his scoring average from 15.4 points per game in his final season in Toronto as a 20-year-old to 26.8 points per game in his first season with the Magic as a 21-year-old.
Of course, if the Spurs do end up winning the championship this year, McGrady will have little to do with it. He has become the team’s human victory cigar this postseason, appearing in only four of the Spurs’ 15 postseason games. He has logged zero points in just over 17 minutes of action.
McGrady’s decline, in a way, can serve as a reminder of just how important it is for stars to have strong supporting casts and reasonable minute limits through the course of grueling NBA seasons. While Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are both older than McGrady, they continue to produce at high levels because their Spurs have been powerhouses in the West for years and Gregg Popovich has been masterful at giving them proper rest.
McGrady, on the other hand, had to almost singlehandedly will the Magic and (to a lesser extent) the Rockets to the playoffs on six separate occasions.
“I had to carry a franchise for a lot of years. I had to do a lot more than a lot of some of these guys do and it caught up for me,” McGrady acknowledged.
Still, McGrady has no complaints with his current situation as a Spurs benchwarmer. When asked about his role for the Spurs, McGrady spoke candidly: “S—, I don’t think I’m going to play. I watch just like you. I just have a better seat.”
Be it as a superstar or super-sub, McGrady has always found a way to enamor the media with golden quotes like this one:
Are you ready if your number is called? Tracy McGrady: “is a pig’s p—y pork?”
— Ben Golliver (@blazersedge) June 7, 2013
Now, let’s see what else is going on around the league: