When we reach a landmark such as retirement; we tend to look back upon our experiences and decisions we made, some good and others that did work out as we had planned. Veteran swing-man Tracy McGrady announced late last month that he is retiring from the NBA and the occasion has caused him to reflect on what he accomplished, as well as decisions he made that he has come to regret.
In a recent phone interview with the “Toronto Star,” the former All-Star admitted that among the biggest regrets of his career, was leaving the Toronto Raptors as a Free Agent in the Summer of 2000. T-Mac would sign with the Orlando Magic salivating at what he thought he and his new teammate Grant Hill would accomplish in their new home. Unfortunately, health issues for both players would prevent them from seeing their dreams come true and both left the franchise without getting close to even playing in the NBA Finals.
The two cornerstones that Toronto wanted to build their team around were McGrady and their young shooting guard Vince Carter, ironically McGrady’s cousin. Conversation at the time, was that T-Mac may have been resentful of the attention “Vinsanity” was getting, possibly feeling that his accomplishments were lost in the shadow of his cousin. Whether or not that was a factor, the small forward/shooting guard decided to leave the cold climes of Toronto for the balmy weather of Orlando.
Now that he is taking stock of his 16-year career in the Association, he confessed to the paper that if he had a do-over, he would have stayed with the Raptors. He said “In hindsight, looking back, obviously I wish I had stayed in Toronto. There’s no doubt we could have contended for a championship. I think about that often. But if ‘if’ was a fifth, you know? Had I been a little older and wiser and knew what was ahead of me, I would have stayed, no doubt, with those guys. But that was some of the best times of my life, man. Being with (Charles) Oakley and Kevin Willis and Antonio Davis, Muggsy (Bogues), Dell Curry, Dee Brown. Man. I still talk to a lot of those guys to this day. Because I appreciated how they looked out for me. They were all professionals.”
The following campaign Toronto fell just short of making what would have been their only appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals. McGrady said that there would have been a different outcome had he remained a Raptor. “There’s no doubt we would have won that series if I would have been there. We had incredible camaraderie. You can’t duplicate that, man. Big brothers, little brothers; we had a mix. And me and Vince were in the perfect situation. You’ve got the two young superstars and you’ve got these old vets. They were our force field. They protected us from anything that happened on that basketball court. They did all the dirty work. And all we had to do was just concentrate on putting the ball in the hoop and guarding who we were guarding. It was just such a great time in my career.”
McGrady had strong personal numbers throughout his career, averaging 19.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists per contest. However he leaves the Association as many have, despite his numbers he never came close to an NBA championship. Whether fate would have been kinder to him had he re-signed with Toronto is an answer we will never know.