T-Mac Living Dream Beyond First Round

SAN ANTONIO – This is the way it was always supposed to be for Tracy McGrady — conference finals, clock running down in the fourth quarter, ball in his hands and the crowd buzzing at the thought of what he might do.

With T-Mac, anything always was possible, and nobody knows that better than the Spurs who were once on the receiving end of 13 points in the final 35 seconds on one mind-boggling night in Houston. Now though, with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili riding out the conclusion of a 20-point Game 1 blowout on the bench, McGrady is far outside the center ring under the big top. He’s more part of the cleanup crew that walks behind the elephants.

“It’s a great feeling,” he said. “It’s great to be part of this terrific organization and guys around here. I’m living the dream right now.”

Which says something about dreams or McGrady or both. For about a decade, T-Mac was a headlining NBA star whose name could be mentioned in the same breath with Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Dirk Nowitzki and the rest — except in the springtime when reputations are forged.

For all of the improbable 3-point shots he made, high-rising slam dunks he threw down, thread-the-needle passes that he delivered right on the money, what McGrady could never do was win a single playoff series.

He had the numbers, but never the pedigree of a winner as he went 0-for-every postseason situation he was ever in, his teams on which he was the leader blowing 3-1 leads in Orlando and Houston and another pair of 2-0 leads with the Rockets. What’s more, every stop along the way in a different NBA jersey always would up with much recrimination, little remorse and the microfracture knee that led to his trade out of Houston signaled the end of his relevance as a star or even starter.

Until he sat on the San Antonio bench, mostly in street clothes for the 4-0 sweep of the Lakers, McGrady was the only scoring champ in NBA history to never make it out of the first round of the playoffs. Now T-Mac is in the conference finals, albeit in a drastically different role — the equivalent of playing for spare change and nostalgia as part of a rock ‘n roll oldies tour.

He has appeared in four games of the playoffs for a total of 17 minutes, shot 0-for-4 and hasn’t scored a point. Yet the fans at the AT&T Center are loudly cheering on that bid for his first bucket as a Spur.

“It’s great; a great feeling to know you have 18,000 people supportive of me and wanting to see me do well,” he said.

“I didn’t notice it the first time I got in, but people were telling me about it — ‘Did you hear the reception you were getting every time you touched the ball?’ — but, no, because I’m so locked in when I got it.

“But I got in [Sunday] and really noticed. It was something special.”

It’s not lost on McGrady that he entered the NBA in the same 1997 Draft with his new teammate, Duncan, though their roles, of course, are now vastly different.

“I came to terms of my situation and I got it,” he said. “It wasn’t in the cards for me to continue the health like Kobe and some of my peers I competed against when I was playing at the highest level. It just wasn’t in the cards for me. I had to go through a lot of stuff to realize the opportunities that I had. Things happen for a reason. The man above takes us through things we sometimes can’t understand but, later on in life, we realize some of the stuff we had to go through.

“This is a promotion for me. For so many years I tried to compete and take a team out of the first round. It just didn’t happen. Then I had to go through some things with my injury that were frustrating but I’m sitting at home – and I live by faith, not by sight – and [coach Gregg Popovich] called me out of the blue and here I am.”

Popovich reached out just before the start of the playoffs, 1 1/2 months after McGrady finished a season with the Qindao Eagles of the Chinese Basketball Association, in what could be the latest chapter in Pop’s very own personal outreach program to unfulfilled NBA veterans:

– In 1999, ex-Blazers star Jerome Kersey hooked on with the Spurs and won the only championship of his 17 NBA seasons.

– In 2003, former Hawks All-Star Kevin Willis set down in San Antonio and claimed his only NBA title in 21 seasons.

– In 2005, it was Glenn Robinson, well past his “Big Dog” days as a No. 1 draft choice and superstar in Milwaukee, who came off the bench in the last of his 11 NBA seasons to win it all with the Spurs.

– In 2007, it was ex-Maverick All-Star Michael Finley’s turn as the 16-year pro won the only ring of his career.

It seems each championship season the Spurs have brought an old pro along for the ride. Now it’s McGrady in the ceremonial seat in his 17th season.

“It’s possible,” said T-Mac, “I can be a champion before I leave this game.”

When a guy gets out of the first round, he dreams bigger.

74 Comments

  1. edrik says:

    T-macs jumpshot is an athletic jumpshot/ high jump jumpshot, like jordans and kobe etc. not like marc gasols jumpshot without elevation and relies on height. so i guess tmacs injury really affected his shooting touch. but really practice is what it takes. just like what happened to Chris webber after his injury. turned into a jumpshooter. but again cweb is tall with and can do jumpshots without elevation. C’mon T-Mac!!!! just do the ray allen drills… shooting even when the lights are off!!

  2. The truth says:

    i hope he gets hurt lol

  3. The truth says:

    The truth is he deserves everything that happened in his career! He was a jealous cousin and couldn’t stand the attention vince carter was getting in toronto. I dont feel bad at all for this guy, hes a bust and a bum and never should be mentioned in the same breath as KOBE

  4. dylan19 says:

    Give T-Mac some minute (Hope Pop can see this :-)), T-Mac can contribute as a veteran. May be around solid 15Min, he a smart guy, know the game well. Can do everything to help a team especially veteran team like Spurs. Hope Spurs will Camp this year….Go go go Spurs…

  5. Ren says:

    Tmac will be useful, like around 15 to 20 minutes per game fit perfectly at his age now. He needs to get in shape and confidence back. Spurs are excellent in managing minutes. You never know, if Spurs can get through this year to win it all, they might finally be able to win consecutive years that people said they can’t. I hope spurs go all the way…

    Tmac get in shape, play smart now..

  6. eric says:

    I hope spurs win it for macrady well deserve athlete

  7. Btweez says:

    Whaaat?!?! Feel bad for T-Mac? C’mon, he said it himself, and that he had to go through some things to realize how good he had it. He thought he was DA MAN and God brought his big head back down to Earth. I’m not hating on him but I was a Raptors fan and he chose to leave a team that almost got into the Conference Finals because he felt that he wasn’t getting enough love from the media in Toronto. Why? Cuz Vince Carter was around at the time (T-Mac’s cousin) but his big head had gotten to him and now he’s eating a big slice of humble pie.

    I ain’t say he wasn’t a good player (NOT GREAT, only good), but his attitude and ego showed. He wanted to be a franchise player but guess what, franchise players win and carries their teams deep into the playoffs. He couldn’t even get past the first round of the playoffs, despite leading those series. There’s a reason why sayings will continue for generations, like you reap what you sow. You wanted to be The Star, and now you’re a scrub. Playing in China doesn’t count since he’s 6’9″ and the Chinese are on average 5’10’ at best! (I’m Chinese, so again, not hatin!)

  8. AllStar says:

    He averaged 25, 7 and 5 in china this season. He can still play.

  9. WHOOSH says:

    TMAC is my favorite player and always will be. Not because he was a champion but because I liked his all-around game, his self-less attitude, and his fight thru injuries to help out his team/teammates. He was all about doing all he could on the court. Even amongst all the hate, he still takes the higher road. Gotta love that about this man. It isn’t as if he didn’t do something to win….his playoff numbers are off the charts. And TMAC was never a deadly scoring machine..yes, he has scoring titles but due to shooting cause he has little help and he was volume…vs 50% from the field like a Lebron. He never was a true scorer like a Melo, Durant, or Dirk. But he did what he had to, to give his team the best shot to win. He wasn’t a poor scorer by any means, but he was never a pure shooter either. This will be the FIRST year I’ll root for the Spurs. And not because I dislike them for any true reason…not a huge Duncan or Parker fan but I’d love to see TMAC be on a winning team. Even if his role is dimished; it is still a role and he is still a part of it. It appears as though for TMAC; that is more than enough. He realizes his gifts in life and that basketball isn’t a high priority. Do as you can and accept fate. Good for him. He knows he’s done everything in his power with his god-giving talent and his clear abilities (which he improved upon himself thru many, many years of training) to do the best he could. And he has accepted the results; thus far. Good for him. I’m hoping he has a shot with my Knicks next season. They certainly need the help. GO TMAC. GO SPURS.

  10. Joseph San Luis says:

    THIS IS HOW THE SPURS GET THEIR CHAMPIONSHIP LUCK. :) GOOD KARMA!!! JUST LIKE THE BIBLE SAYS, “GIVE AND IT WILL COME BACK TO YOU.” GO SPURS GO!!!

  11. Neutral says:

    Support you, T-Mac. I think that all your potential had not showed yet! I think T-Mac will be a vitual player in the finals when Spurs vs Heat. You have the ability to change the game results!

  12. kobeballhog says:

    tmac is like Kobe, ball hog doesn’t make someone great, yes you score a lot = ballhog

  13. Don't give a fuk says:

    T-Mac is much healthier than everybody thinks … prob the most healthy he has been in 5 years.. he started at the beginning of the playoffs. if he plays next year watch out he wil become a 15-20 pt per game player again. its in his blood

  14. Lan says:

    I remember playing NBA live 2008 Dynasty mode. I add veterants who i think never got a ring in their Career.

    I didn’t know that this can be for real…

  15. jipzilog12 says:

    I think MIAMI HEAT needs another streaky SHOOTER in TMAC :)

  16. Tee-Jay Lugtu says:

    I think T-Mac is lucky enough to be in the playoffs when he did not even play a single game in the regular season. I feel sorry for Captain Jack.

  17. HECANBETHENEXT says:

    he can be the next grant hill if he worked hard enough

  18. asdfghjkl; says:

    then melo will be a spur before he retires if pop is still with the spurs in maybe 5 years and they’re contenders. haha

  19. Big Al says:

    It is unfortunate for the Raptors not to have Carter, McGrady and Bosh playing together. It could have been one heck of a team.

  20. Bu says:

    I used to think TMac is a quitter & hitching a free ride with the Rockets. However, I’m not an insider & I can’t possibly tell the truth. The only thing I can comment is TMac is an exciting player to watch during regular season. Playoff style bball & the will to win, these are clearly not his forte.

    Though what the record showed above Pop is really….. an interesting character!!

    • Don't give a fuk says:

      his playoff number were unreal! Bad Luck exists plus all his temas were garbage.. yes even the rockets

  21. Roderick McBan says:

    He should have stayed in Toronto and be part of a great team together with Vince Carter. Many good things could have happened, but no, he wanted to do it all himself. Too big an ego maybe ?

  22. Ray says:

    Wow who’s that ex Spurs players James??? lol

    Every veteran wants to win that big one even if it means a smaller role. However it does make me respect players like Reggie Miller and John Stockton who may have NEVER won that elusive ring but they will still be remember as GREAT players staying one club men. I’m not trying to say what T Mac and other vets were doing is wrong, but it shows how much winning a ring means to so many players. I see Charles on TNT and I know he HATES it when the mention of him not having a ring comes up, especially when he knows he was a better player than Kenny Smith yet he has a ring and Chuck don’t. Chucks gotta be hurting in those moments. Love the show by the way. :)

  23. Drago says:

    He should have stayed back in Toronto with Karter and make it work.Great players don’t change teams they change their attitude.To bad for his injuries thou.

  24. Nathan says:

    If Vince Carter can still make a solid impact on an NBA team, Tracy McGrady has the ability to make an even bigger one. At this point, he’s only not getting real playing time because he hasn’t learned Pop’s system yet. Once he familiarizes himself with it, he’ll see more than just garbage time.

  25. TMACFan says:

    You don’t need a SPOTLIGHT to SHINE!

    Just imagine if you team up with Carter for a long time. Raptors could go deep into the playoffs…

    • bryce says:

      Man you have no idea a buddy of mine and I were talking about this the other day. God i hope the raptors become relevent next year

  26. Go Spurs!!!
    TMac-TMac-TMac-TMac!!!

  27. J says:

    great for him :)

  28. Eric says:

    Im happy for Tracy McGrady and i do hope he can get a ring. I sure do miss him in Houston, would always go to the games to watch him play and have his jersey on. Glad he is on the Spurs as well cus thats my 2nd team. Wish you the best of luck Tmac!!!!

  29. t_mAC says:

    Damn! So that’s the reason y Great Pop suddenly signed me. I thought he signed me coz i can be of help to their cause, as little as i may. But the real reason is SUPERSTITIOUS. Damn! Me soo naive. Great Pop, your pathetic.

  30. Bux says:

    All the way for ring, Spurs and T-Mac

  31. Kamote says:

    After this year, I hope TMac would try to get himself into shape, though won’t need to be durable for longer minutes, but as a quality role player off the bench. As great as he is in his heyday, I hope he won’t have that sense of just riding on some team to win a championship. We have two perfect examples in Kidd and Ray Allen (franchise players for long periods of their careers), both older than TMac. But these two are still very much relevant to the teams they played with (Kidd in Dallas, Allen in Miami). As long as any team is still interested certain skills he could bring, he should just make sure he has the health to contribute.

    • mee(a)t says:

      You forgot derek fisher

      • Kamote says:

        oh yeah, still has use to teams he played in. I smell something “fisher” though about his moves on quitting Dallas then moving to OKC :)

  32. not a kobe fan either says:

    the 2nd round virgin….no more!

  33. Rhedz says:

    Both tmac and carter are amazing back in the days…but yeah people get old, they age, they get weaker…they have made big impacts and have inspired kids and fans around the globe. This 2 superstars can still go for that 1 last ride…for old times sake…and i hope they make the most of it…goodluck tmac and to my man vince…best of luck and keep it up…

  34. stephen says:

    @JB Yeah I can imagine what would’ve happened if they kept McGrady and drafted Howard. Howard probably wouldnt have developed as fast. Probably wouldve had the same kind of development as Bynum had in LA playing with Kobe. I used to love McGrady. But the longer he was in Orlando the more his shots went up…Don’t know that he wouldve shared the ball that well with Howard. Guess we’ll never know.

  35. stephen says:

    That wasn’t 2004 when they were up 3-1 against Detroit, it was 2003.

  36. Emil Dub says:

    San Antonio brought in Antonio McDyess (who played against them in the Finals in 2005) and he did not win a championship. That is a shame because he was a nice guy. McGrady became very disagreeable after his exit from the Magic and also in Houston. I am halfheartedly rooting for him to have one good game against the Heat before losing in the Finals.

  37. T-MAC will win a RING this year.

    2013 NBA CHamps = The SPURS !!!!!!!

  38. JB says:

    can you imagine what might have been if Orlando had kept TMac instead of trading him (for Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley??) the same year they drafted Dwight Howard? …

    • filt says:

      i cannot image two losers (i’m sorry that as good as they, they are not championship players) make one winner

  39. JB says:

    you guys will be saying the same thing about Melo in 5 years or so… maybe even Durant some day. Although I think KD has more of a chance to get one while he’s still able to contribute to a team.

  40. coolitdude says:

    Payton and Malone would regret joining the Lakers after reading this…

  41. mikke says:

    Much respect for T-Mac …

  42. EyronFigures says:

    TMAC is one of my Favorite player ever.. i feel so sad for what happened to him way back years ago..and now, i am happy with him,seeing him playing in just only 5mins in the eintire game..but if the case was happen that the SPURS and HEAT will face to the FINALS, i HOPE MIAMI WILL WIN it..so sad for TMAC,but you can sign to HEAT next season just like ray allen did..cmon tmac,you still young and can shoot the ball..Go to HEAT next season..for you to win the championship.. you’re my idol..

    SPURS and HEAT in the FINALS..

    greetings from the PHILIPPINES!

  43. Kei says:

    So all the has been cling on Spurs greater the chance of having a ring? Maybe Kobe should go there.

    • NBAfan says:

      T-Mac is not a has-been, he’s a never-was

      Kobe is on the decline for sure, but he STILL-IS…better recognize greatness even if you hate the person…

  44. CLIPPER_BOY says:

    He will not win a ring but I do feel bad for him. ANOTHER WILKINS

  45. James says:

    T Mac should feel pathetic. Pathetic that in his overrated career he couldn’t get past round 1. Then as a bench player with 0 points think he’s living the dream? Spurs are elite and your a waste of cap space. The fans aren’t cheering for you they pity you. I say that as a former spurs player and a fan. You’ll be cut next year that is if you don’t finally hang it up.

    • Anthony says:

      Former Spurs player, huh? Sounds like you’ve got some hate in your blood. I suppose the Spurs should have signed you.

      T-MAC might be a has-been, but he seems okay with that. His career was diminished due to injury. How did yours end? You’d be better to congratulate the man on being part of something big at this time in his career, and encourage his journey as a supporting cast member of the Spurs. Instead, you want to down him based upon feats you never even accomplished. Scoring title? No. Championship? No. NBA All-Star? No. First, Second, or Third Team anything?? No.

      How can you call someone who made MILLIONS of dollars and played the game at the highest level, pathetic? He will make the hall of fame – you can bet that.

      Stop Hating!

    • Matt says:

      Well James and Fran have something in comment they’re both haters, cleanup crew after an elephant ride? you really envy NBA players huh fran? less burgers more practice and maybe you wouldn’t have to hate so hard on athletes

    • CALLING OUT JAMES says:

      James.. what a loser.. talks mad trash, then CLAIMS he’s a former spur, but won’t reveal his name cuz hes a scrub and never did anything lol. childish pettiness..

  46. pro-x11 says:

    i hope the spurs will be champions this year, and give a title to tmac is another of all the nice reasons to support them. i hope u’ll get one Tmac ! and cmon coach pop you could call chuck to give him one too

  47. TrueBalls says:

    Kobe > T-Mac > Lebron. Fact.

    • DJ3 says:

      More like MJ > LeBron > T-Mac > Wade > Melo > Dwight > Kobe

      • all3n iv3rson says:

        Dwight doesn’t even belong in that list..

      • sick says:

        MJ> LeBron>Tim>Hakeem>Magic>O’neal>Malone>Isiah>Charles>Reggie>Wade>Chris>John>T-mac>Kevin>Steve>Robert> Scottie>Gasol>Julius>Moses>Byron>James>Jerry>Mugsy>Kyrie>Roy>Dwight>Webber>Williams>Mahorn>Arvydas>Walker>Parker>Lewis> Rodman>Danilovic>Garcia>Fernandez>Calderon>Peterson>Yao>Robinson>Barbosa>Smith>Jackson>Williamson> JasonCollins>kobe bryant

      • The Hammer says:

        What? Dwight Howard? What have he done lately, (last three years)?

    • baah says:

      Any idiot > True Balls

  48. Big Al says:

    I really feel happy for T-Mac if he finds any sort of genuine satisfaction where he is right now. But I like to see him being used more so he can provide some sort of impact. It certainly won’t be as big as before, but to feel that he matters will be quite awesome for a former superstar.

    Now if only Iverson can be given the same chance… He did make the finals 12 years ago, but to have that one last go with a championship caliber team and be given a proper send-off is fitting for the best pound-for-pound player ever.

  49. Another Heat Fan says:

    It’s so sad what has happened to mcgrady.
    Growing up he was probably my favorite superstar. And that series against detroit where they were up 3-1 as the 8th seeded magic vs the 1st seed pistons, pistons went on to win a championship that year. Even though he never got past the first round to me i will always remember that year as the one where he almost beat the champs.

    What i dont understand is, I get that he’s injured, but t-mac had a shooting touch. What happened? Why can’t he score anymore? He was athletic but he could shoot the ball, why can’t he anymore?

    I’m afraid as much as I hate to admit it, t-mac accepted his fate easier than Kobe or Garnett did. I don’t think he’s practicing or working out. I think he could have been 6th man of the year if he worked harder but I guess he gave up after houston.

    Still I wish he would buckle down and do the unthinkable, resurrect part of his old self and shock the NBA as the veteran that made it back, hopefully earning him a better bid for the HoF. I know it seems impossible, but if we learned anything from t-mac in that spurs game, it’s that impossible is nothing.

    • Guest says:

      correction, the Pistons made it to the conference finals that year, but got swept out, they won it all the next year.

    • Don't give a fuk says:

      he still got all that scoring in him without a doubt its just not the role he has been given. if he plays next year from the beginning of the season you’ll see glimpses

  50. alflex519 says:

    This is funny, but AWESOME at the same time!

  51. Willy says:

    Very interesting and great for the Vets. So Pop and the organization have a soft spot for aging stars or is it all business and they fit the team?