Held up against the mountainous accomplishments of greats like Jordan, West, Bryant and Drexler, shooting guard Tracy McGrady’s own success looks pale. Even when compared to the resume of contemporary Allen Iverson, his own looks hole-ridden. But how quickly they forget. McGrady never got past the first round of the playoffs (until he became a Spur), and lacks the shiny hardware, but he deserves enshrinement. Absolutely.
Maybe not on a first ballot basis but certainly before this generation’s first HOF candidates retire.
Even some of McGrady’s most dedicated supporters question the validity of T-Mac as a Hall-worthy player. In most cases, he’s seen as simply a scorer, one of the most natural to ever do it, and because of it, buoyed by an innate lack of leadership, he could never will his teams out of first-round playoff purgatory. If the truth was that McGrady was nothing more than a scorer―because scoring isn’t important in a game where the most points win, surely―then already in that realm he has historic company.
With a total of 18,381 career points he’s 60th all-time on the list (which some hold to the highest esteem). Better than Dave Bing, Chris Mullin, and Kevin McHale who have all been immortalized in the HOF. His career PPG is also pretty darn good at 64th all-time. And a closer look reveals even more.
Only 12 players ever have averaged more points in a single-season campaign than McGrady. Wilt, Jordan, Rick Barry, Kobe, Kareem, Baylor, Charlie Scott, McAdoo, Tiny, Gervin, Iverson, and Bernard King. Not LeBron, not Oscar, not Dr. J. have been able to top him on that plane. And that year, 2002-03, wasn’t a one-sided affair. He averaged 32.1/6.5/5.5/1.7. The only three guys to ever achieve that other than the sleepy-eyed assassin have been Jordan, Wilt, and Gervin.
Now we get into the area of more contention―whether he could do more than score and whether he’s responsible for his teams’ playoff stumbles.
A player who can only score doesn’t give Kobe nightmares on the defensive end. He also doesn’t retire with at least 18,000 points, 5,000 rebounds, and 4,000 assists. Everyone else to have logged those numbers have given a speech at Naismith. You also don’t account for 46.2% of your team’s assists in a playoff match. Speaking to his 8-9 year dominance as one of his era’s best players, if the best at times, he never won an MVP award but ended up with an award share average that trumps those of Gary Payton, Dwyane Wade, and Walt Frazier.
And in terms of playoff exploits, let’s do a little exercise.
It’s the 2003 NBA Playoffs, who do you have winning a seven-game series?
B) A first-seeded Detroit team with a starting five of Clifford Robinson, prime Ben Wallace, prime Richard Hamilton, prime Chauncey Billups, and Michael Curry. Also, a team a year away from being NBA champs.
The year is now 2004-05. Houston vs. Dallas. Who do you choose?
McGrady would lose both first-round matchups but he would do it in seven games both times. Throughout his career he had a hard time getting past the competition but that competition was oftentimes a generational powerhouse. It shouldn’t be forgotten though that T-Mac knew how to make it to a place of equal high esteem: Hall of Fame consideration.