Wednesday, March 21st, 2012 at 11:18 am  |  17 responses

Injury Time

Tracy McGrady lost the explosiveness that could’ve made him an all-time great, but a re-dedication has helped him maintain relevancy.

SLAM: Do you and Vince Carter chuckle at being cousins who were once two of the NBA’s most athletic players and today are on the opposite end of that status?

TM: [Laughs] I called him the other day and asked him how he felt. He said he felt good but I said, I’m watching you, and you don’t look like you feel good.

SLAM: What do you like most about playing for the Hawks?

TM: Watching them over the years and seeing that they’re a step closer to getting deep in the Playoffs, I felt like I was a piece of the puzzle to get them over that hump. For so many years they were struggling to beat Orlando in the Playoffs, and they accomplished that last year. So when Jamal Crawford didn’t re-sign, I felt like this was a perfect fit.

SLAM: At one point it looked like you were going to the Chicago Bulls. You’re more of a facilitator than Rip Hamilton, so I can only imagine how much scarier the Bulls would be today if you wound up signing with them.

TM: I felt Chicago was definitely a perfect spot because they only have one creator with DRose. He’s beating his body up every night having to create and score, doing too much. I’ve been through that so I know what it does to your body over time. I felt like I could go there and relieve some pressure off of him and become a facilitator, but it just didn’t work out. Atlanta really wanted me so I went there.

SLAM: You began the season shooting 50 percent from the floor and over 60 percent from three, yet there are numerous plays during the end of Hawks games where you don’t touch the ball at all. Are you shooting enough?

TM: You know what it is? I’m not trying to carry a team. I’m comfortable with my role. Now if they want [me to shoot more], I’m capable, but I’m comfortable not going out there night in and night out beating up my body.

SLAM: In Detroit you played a lot of point and even said that being a playmaker would prolong your career, but now you’re back to an off-guard role. Would you want more PG duties?

TM: I would because I feel that I’m at my best when I have the ball in my hands–I see the game better than most guys. But I’m comfortable playing off the ball because that’s where I’ve been playing almost my whole career.

SLAM: Besides yourself, what’s it gonna take for the Hawks to run deep into the Playoffs?

TM: We have to look at ourselves and see what kind of team we wanna be. Do we wanna be a finesse team or a physical team? We have no identity. I feel like we need to just check our egos and achieve that goal…because we have the talent.

SLAM: Joe Johnson is the Hawk who receives the most criticism. He’s tagged as immensely talented but lacking killer instinct. You made a career off of that instinct. Can you help him become a killer or does he have to be born one?

TM: If I’m in a game and I have 20, I’m trying to get 30. If I have 30, I’m trying to get 40. I’m trying to bury your ass. I don’t care who I’m playing against. Some guys just don’t have that mentality, but you can’t knock ’em, that’s who they are. But I think Joe has it. He’s just so quiet, and I think he gets criticized for being laid back, but the kid can play.

SLAM: How does a guy who was a centerpiece of adidas’ basketball campaigns for several years keep sane while his athleticism declines? Lesser men would have been eaten alive by their ego.

TM: I accept what happened to me. I had a great run for a lot of years, which people didn’t expect me to do. I proved a lot of people wrong. So when there was a dark cloud, I really had to check myself and test who I really am. I overcame that and now I’m mentally and physically happy. Although I wish I was still that dude, I accept it.

SLAM: Penny says he sees himself in your game. Do you see yourself in Kevin Durant’s?

TM: I love that kid’s game. I love him because he reminds me of myself. We have a mutual friend and he tells me how much respect KD has for me and that I was his dude coming up, so it feels good that a dude on his level looked up to me. It’s crazy to think that I’m not much older than these dudes, but I feel like an old head in this game [laughs].

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  • seun

    the story of t-mac’s career is one of the saddest story every; he could have been one of the greatest ever butinjuries as well as hi stsruggles in the first round runined him. to me this is depressing cause there are few guys like him i mean if you talking about the 21st century from a talent standpoint there has been lebron,t-mac, and vince carter; like those three were sort of like those once in a generation talents that come by ever so often and its just a sad thing to see those guys fail to be anything close to what they could have been.

  • thetalkingcomb

    I’ll always remember his “1 is the loneliest number” campaign.

  • hushabomb

    I still reckon TMac should be in Boston. He would be backing up Rondo and Jesus. And give Johnson and Bradley great insight and instruction. And imagine if TMac stayed with the Knicks. TMac and Lin together would be awesome!!!!!

  • Paul H

    T-mac was the first real superstar I ever seen live in person, dropping 26 on the ‘Toine and Pierce Celtics (Pierce didn’t really have that “holy shit!” luster for me at the time). I absolutely idolized the man In my late teens. 32/8/6 In a season, 60 point game, 13 points in 35 seconds, he did so many amazing things I just HAVE to see him pick up a chip before he goes.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    ugh, I hate watching broken T-Mac…it makes me feel old. He was one of my favorite players in the league. He was an unstoppable force. Now he’s adapted to his injuries and age and is playing well, but it kills me. I want old T-Mac back!

  • K.a.

    I like tmac n this is a good read, thx slam. Its amazing what training n Medicine do these days to the tmacs n ghill n its nice that theyve manage to prolong a steady career what was once spectacular. Makes u aporeciate the lebrons n kobes more.

  • CB

    :( ..kevin durant and tmac dont play alike at all…theyre just both skinny

  • dazzy

    Thinking about what he could’ve been if he was healthy and worked hard, it’s almost scary what could’ve been. Best offensive TALENT since MJ.

  • Rainman

    @ CB: they’re similar in terms of scoring alone, but i ffeel like T-Mac attacked the basket even more, and had a much better all around game, meaning his ability to pass and run an offense himself, on Magic teams which really werent all that great

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/officerbarbrady what

    The Hawks need to give him more minutes.

  • Mark

    T-Mac will always be my favorite NBA player, regardless his injuries. And he should at least try the German treatment Kobe Bryant received prior to the season.

  • http://www.slamonline.com TADOne

    TMac and Grant Hill should have been challenging for championships in Orlando. It’s weird to think that Grant is now the healthier of the two.

  • Sxxmi

    Co-sign Paul H, T-Mac is legit and it would be a shame to see him go without a decent playoff run… Imagine if he stayed in Orlando and ended up with Jameer and Dwight! But I guess the Magic would never have got those picks if T-Mac was still there.

    @Mark read the article; he had that procedure and recommended it to Kobe!!

  • http://slamonline.com The Philosopher

    In his prime, he was better than Kobe, too…

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/category/blogs/san-dova-speak-easy/ San Dova

    The funny thing about Tracy is that he was a point guard in high school. Played point for Toronto on many a night, including his rookie year. And he’s closer to 6’10″ now.

  • J. P.

    Co-sign the Philos’… check them All-Star games from like 00-04 when he’d throw Kobe’s shot back in his face. Since then KB got a little mo’ explosive & TM a whole lot less…

  • LA Huey

    Interesting to see cats talk about T-Mac, in the same way I talk about Penny. I wonder who’s next?