NBA: The seven-time All-Star, seven-time All-NBA pick and two-time scoring champ closed the door this morning on ESPN’s First Take, announcing that he was “officially” retiring from the NBA after 16 seasons in the league. He did say he was leaving the door open to opportunities in China, but said he was done playing bit parts on NBA teams.
He spent a decade as a franchise player in Orlando and Houston but knee issues derailed his career. He played in New York, Detroit and Atlanta in his final three full seasons in the league.
McGrady began the 2012-13 season with the Qingdao Eagles of the Chinese Basketball Association, where he averaged 25 ppg, 7.2 rpg and 5.1 apg on a last-place team. He joined the San Antonio Spurs during their playoff run that ended in The Finals last season. He was 30 seconds away in Game 6 from earning the NBA title and ring that eluded him his entire career.
His announcement comes on the heels of the retirement of another one of the marquee players of his generation. Allen Iverson announced his retirement last week.
While Iverson should be a lock, the Hall of Fame debate for McGrady will crank up now. If you go by the numbers alone, McGrady should also be a lock. He even mentioned as much on the air this morning, pointing out that during his prime there was an ongoing conversation among basketball insiders and fans as to who was the better player: McGrady or Kobe Bryant.
Of course, Bryant has an edge in championships (5-0) that McGrady will never overcome. But there once was a legitimate debate as to who was going to be a better player between himself, Kobe and Vince Carterduring the early stages of their respective careers.
McGrady and Carter never did enjoy the team or playoff success that Bryant did, ending that debate years ago.
Still, McGrady’s transcendent talent and jaw-dropping exploits when he at his zenith (check his highlights above) leave no doubt that he was one of the most unusual talents to ever grace a NBA floor.
A 6-foot-9 shooting guard with otherworldly athleticism, shooting range basically anywhere in the arena and the passing ability most point guards could only dream of, McGrady entered the league straight out of high school as the ninth overall pick to Toronto in the 1997 Draft. He leaves with a Hall of Fame worthy body of work, even it was marred by injuries and postseason failures.