Houston Rockets: Is Tracy McGrady Under Appreciated?


For a majority of the 2000s, Tracy McGrady was arguably the best player in the league. Night after night McGrady’s lethal offensive and defensive skills turned him from a high school prep into one of the best players of his generation. T-Mac was a tough match up for anyone that had to guard him. Even Los Angeles Lakers’ great Kobe Bryant once told Jimmy Kimmel that McGrady was the toughest guy he has ever played against in his career.

That is why it is  hard to believe after playing 16 years in the league, the only team that thought McGrady’s jersey was worth retiring is some random team in China. Really? If there is one team in the NBA that should consider retiring McGrady’s jersey someday, the Houston Rockets should be at the top of the list.

Eleven years ago, after the Rockets made the blockbuster trade to acquire the two-time scoring champ from the Magic, the teaming of McGrady and 7’6 All-Star center Yao Ming made Houston one of the best duos in the league. Unfortunately, the lack of playoff success and injuries derailed him from becoming a first ballot Hall of Famer, but no one cannot deny how great T-Mac was during his prime. Especially in Houston. Just take a look at his career numbers as a Rocket.

In four of his five seasons McGrady led the Rockets to 50 plus wins. During his first four years, McGrady never averaged less than 20 points. In fact, McGrady’s 22.7 points per game is the third highest average in Rockets’ history. Not only was McGrady Houston’s primary scorer, but he also showed the ability to create for his teammates with 5.6 assist per game. Which is sixth all-times in Rockets history.

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His rebounding numbers did drop a little in Houston, but he still was a solid rebounder with 5.5 per game. If the regular season numbers were not enough to solidify T-Mac’s greatness in Houston, than maybe his postseason stats will.

NBA fans can say what they want about McGrady never advancing in the playoffs, but his postseason stats are remarkable. Although it is heartbreaking that he could never get Houston out of the first round, McGrady did everything possible to win. In his first playoff series with the Rockets in 2005, T-Mac was nothing but phenomenal. He averaged an astonishing 30.7 points, 6.7 assists, and adding in 7.4 rebounds per game in a losing effort against the Dallas Mavericks in seven games.

Even as the Utah Jazz eliminated the Rockets in 2007 and 2008 playoff series, McGrady’s play was still sensational averaging 26.1 points, 7.0 assist, and 7.1 rebounds. If his stats do not accentuate how great McGrady was in Houston, maybe refreshing the memory of his most memorable performances as a Rocket will.

Remember that classic dual in 2005 when McGrady and Dirk Nowitzki combined for 105 points. Better still was the epic move he made in Game 2 of the series when he blew past Nowitzki and dunked over 7’6 Shawn Bradley. Later that night he hit the game winner to give the Rockets a 113-111 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

Going toe-to-toe with Kobe Bryant in a mid-season showdown knocking down the game winner. Recording a record 16 assists during a playoff game against the Jazz in 2008. Leading the Rockets to the then second longest winning streak in NBA history with 22 games in a row. And who can forget the heroic 13 points in 35 seconds against the San Antonio Spurs.

Sadly, Tracy McGrady will not be remembered as a winner, but it is without a doubt that he will go down as one of the greatest players in Rockets history. Although Rockets fans might say the McGrady era was a disappointment, he give a lot to cheer about throughout his five years in Houston.

Maybe one day NBA Fans will begin to look back at McGrady’s career and not judge him for his lack of success, but admire him for the great player he once was.

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