Throughout the last 50 years, there have been 3,071 players to play the game of basketball in the NBA. 1 of those players will forever live in a special form of infamy, and his name is Tracy McGrady. McGrady played for 7 teams over the span of his 16-year career. Most notably, he played for the Houston Rockets, where he emerged as a high-flying, bonafide superstar. But just as a shooting star appears in the night sky and then vanishes, so did the legacy of Mr. McGrady.
First and foremost, the reason why the name "Tracy McGrady" is not among the most popular basketball names in history is because of his lack of NBA championships. Not only does his lack of rings tarnish what would've been a monumental career, but his respective team never made it out of the first round of the playoffs. Not one time. In 2013, his last season with the San Antonio Spurs, he made it to the NBA championship and lost to the Heat; however, this is not counted because McGrady was hanging on by a thread and was way past his days of production. Sure, he experienced some awful luck and natural aging injuries, but it wasn't good enough. No rings in the realm of superstar greats = nothing to show for it.
Let's put this into context. Among the list of Allen Iverson, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, and himself, McGrady ranks second-best in rebounds per game at 6.32. He also ranks fourth in assists at 5.47, and third in points at 27.9. For anyone who knows basketball, he's in pretty good company. These stats are unreal, Hall-of-Fame unreal. Too bad McGrady was never surrounded by players with these reputations. In a bout of horrendous luck, he was traded from the Raptors to the Orlando Magic right before the prime of his career, where he could have teamed up with all-around superstar Vince Carter for years. Then, he was traded from the Magic to the Houston Rockets right before the Magic acquired powerhouse Dwight Howard. Carter and Howard are known as two of the most dominant players in their time. In McGrady's 16 years of chasing a championship, he played with minimal stars and sub-par talent. In the more modern era, we see superstars teaming up to form super-teams, such as the Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, etc. Because they know that support wins championships, and that was simply not the structure of McGrady's time.
Once asked about the toughest matchup he's ever faced on the court, eventual hall-of-famer Kobe Bryant said, "Tracy McGrady, he has all the skills, all the athleticism...". If you're receiving praise like that from a man of that stature, you must be doing something right. He had the raw skills. He had the athleticism and figure. He had the stats. He had the swagger. He had all of the intangibles it takes to lead a franchise into the promised land. He had the game of basketball in the palm of his hand.
And just like that, it was dust in the wind.