Tracy McGrady Strikes Down Criticism Over Not Winning a Ring: ‘I Was 1 of the Top Players in the League’

Is it possible for a Hall of Famer to be underrated? Sure, just look at Tracy McGrady.

T-Mac was one of the NBA’s top scorers throughout the 2000s. So much so, the former Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets star earned a spot in Springfield, Mass. at the Basketball Hall of Fame. But if there was one area where McGrady fell short, it was with rings, more specifically a lack thereof.

For all of McGrady’s success, the 16-year veteran was never able to successfully hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy. When asked by current Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green how that made him feel, the Hall of Famer fired back at critics who aim to lessen his accomplishments.

Tracy McGrady had an elite peak

Part of the reason T-Mac might be overlooked is due to a peak that lasted only eight seasons. But what a run it was.

From 2000-01 through 2007-08, McGrady averaged 26.1 points on 43.4% shooting. Only Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James averaged more points in that stretch. Additionally, his 14,622 points are the fifth-most in the NBA across those eight seasons; more than Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, and former Toronto Raptors teammate Vince Carter and in fewer games.

The Florida native finished his career with seven All-Star appearances and seven All-NBA acknowledgments. He also won back-to-back scoring titles in 2003 and ’04 with Orlando, the first of which on an impressive 32.1 points per game. T-Mac also secured a Most Improved Player Award after his first season with the Magic in 2000-01, when he jumped from 15.4 to 26.8 points.

But McGrady wasn’t scoring hollow points in meaningless games. The 6-foot-8 wing helped guide Orlando to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons in town. He would then earn playoff births in four of his five full seasons with Houston.

However, the superstar never won a single playoff series, at least while healthy. McGrady’s lone series victory came in 2008-09 with the Rockets, but the former scoring champ missed the final 29 games of the regular season as well as the entirety of Houston’s 13-game postseason.

McGrady fired back against ring culture

Former NBA star Tracy McGrady sits on the bench.
Tracy McGrady #1 of the Orlando Magic. | G Fiume/Getty Images

If you’re a basketball fan, you know the following to be true: Rings over everything. Points, All-Star nods, and any other individual accomplishments are nice. But titles are what make a great player legendary.

However, there’s more to it than that, says McGrady.

The 42-year-old was a guest on The Draymond Green Show to talk about his career and more. Eventually, the conversation steered toward rings after the three-time champion Green asked McGrady to respond to those lessening his ring-less career.

“I can go to any country in the world, and I’m recognized. Anywhere. I’m well-respected on the court, in the streets, in corporate America … There are a lot of moving parts that have to come into play to win championships. With my game and how I played it, you don’t think if I had the right pieces around me I couldn’t win a championship? I wasn’t sorry, I was one of the top players in the league. I just didn’t have the pieces around me.”

Tracy McGrady

To say McGrady didn’t have a championship-caliber supporting cast, at least in Orlando, is an understatement. In his four seasons in blue, T-Mac was most notably accompanied by veteran Darrell Armstrong, a young Mike Miller, and the oft-injured Grant Hill. With Houston, McGrady had Hall of Fame center Yao Ming but an average collection of role players like Rafer Alston and Luis Scola.

“People really forget certain areas and certain guys’ careers,” McGrady continued. “If you look at how great [Kevin Garnett] was during the first 12 seasons of his career, what’d he have to do? He went and joined Paul Pierce and Ray Allen to win that championship. … What happened when Shaq left and Kobe was there [alone] for two years? They struggled. So people forget about that, bro. You need the pieces around you to win championships.”

T-Mac has no regrets about never winning a ring

McGrady, who jumped to the NBA straight out of Mount Zion Christian Academy in 1997, had a Hall of Fame career without a ring. But that doesn’t mean the former star isn’t still being overlooked as a game-changing talent to this day.

“Maybe I would’ve made the top-75 [with a ring],” McGrady added. “F*** all of that s***, man. I’m a Hall of Famer, bro. Let’s have a real conversation, people. Y’all looking at championships and there are a lot of great people who ain’t winning no f****** championships. Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing ain’t have the talent to win a championship? … What are y’all talking about, man?”

However, even if McGrady did end up winning that elusive title, he claims his life wouldn’t have changed very much at all.

“If I had won a championship in my prime, my life wouldn’t have changed,” T-Mac said. “You look back when I got drafted, the impact that had on me. Retiring my mom at 35, 36 years old, retiring my grandmother from being a custodian for 30-something years, retiring my dad … changing the complexion of my family. That did impact me.”

Ring or no ring, McGrady seems to have his priorities straight.

All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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