Tracy McGrady officially announced his retirement from the NBA on ESPN’s “First Take.” It wasn’t a complete shock considering McGrady has been relegated to the bench the last three years, most recently this past season with the San Antonio Spurs.
McGrady put up some spectacular numbers during his 16-year career, but he also suffered through some painful moments. Despite scoring more than 18,000 points and winning two scoring titles, T-Mac was associated with playoff failures. He infamously said during the 2003 Eastern Conference playoffs that “it feels good to be in the second round” after his Orlando Magic squad took a 3-1 lead on the Detroit Pistons. Unfortunately for the seven-time All-Star, the series was a best-of-seven and the Magic lost the next three games and got bounced in the first round.
ESPN writers J.A. Adande, Bradford Doolittle, Israel Gutierrez, Curtis Harris, and Ethan Sherwood Strauss weighed in on whether or not McGrady deserves a place in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.
Here’s what they said:
Adande: This is similar to [Grant] Hill, whose years among the elite were cut short by injuries and who never made it past the first round of the playoffs in his prime. But Hill has his college exploits to pad his résumé and make him a lock in my mind. McGrady’s case is iffier, but six seasons among the league’s top 10 (first- or second-team All-NBA) would be just enough to get my vote. For a while there was a legitimate debate between McGrady and Kobe Bryant. A spot in the Hall of Fame would be a way to remember those times.
Doolittle: It’s a tough case. I did a study a few years ago and found that a player is basically a no-brainer for the Hall at 170 career WARP. McGrady finishes with 149. He’s a solid candidate, but he’s in the gray area where intangible arguments such as his relatively short peak and lack of team playoff success start to enter into the equation. In the end, I think he should be in. Eventually.
Gutierrez: Yes. Every eligible scoring champion is now in the Hall of Fame except Max Zaslofsky (1948), and McGrady won it twice. Plus, he had seven straight seasons of at least 24.4 points, 4.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds. Even without being the most efficient player ever, that’s Hall of Fame-worthy.
Harris: Absolutely. The Hall of Fame should be about the game’s greatest players. For a solid five-year stretch, McGrady had one of the best runs of any player in league history. You can’t possibly discuss the NBA of the 2000s, at least knowledgeably, without mentioning McGrady’s integral place.
Strauss: Yes. The Hall of Fame is nearly as arbitrary as a raffle, so at a certain point, these questions are about personal preference. My defense of T-Mac’s Hall entrance is that his 2002-03 season was an all-timer, and it came during an era when perimeter defense dominated perimeter offense.
Adande makes a good parallel with Grant Hill. Hill was a superstar in college at Duke, winning two national championships, but his NBA career was limited by nagging injuries. McGrady didn’t play college ball — he was the ninth overall selection by the Toronto Raptors straight out of Mt. Zion Christian Academy — so his NBA resume has to be on the front of his business card and that’s where the debate lies.
Gutierrez said every eligible scoring champ made it to the Hall of Fame, except one player. McGrady was the NBA’s top scorer in 2003 and 2004, and averaged more than 24 points per game for seven straight seasons.
Great players belong in the Basketball Hall of Fame, even if some of them never won a championship. Charles Barkley and Karl Malone were two of the most dominant players despite not winning a title. McGrady could be classified as a great scorer and that may be good enough to land him in Springfield some day.