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Thursday, July 11th, 2013 at 1:05 pm  |  no responses

Slamadamonth, SLAM #35: Tracy McGrady

March 23, 1999: T-Mac powers through Kornel David.

Originally published in SLAM 35

One more question about goulash, and I’m gonna lose my mind. More than halfway through the season, and Kornel David was getting a little tired of the whole business. The Bulls, whom he had watched win six Championships on TV in his native Hungary, were 8-17 going in, and losing badly to the Raptors. At home. The fans were looking at their watches midway through the first quarter, streaming for the exits midway through the second. Even worse, David was only averaging 12.6 minutes per game. In Hungary, I was the best player in the country, he thought, as he got back on defense following a Rusty LaRue miss, and here, on a bad team, I can’t get more time than Mark Bryant?

Worse still, he thought, was the locker room. If it wasn’t people jabbering at him in Croatian—at 6-9, 235, he was often mistaken for Toni Kukoc—it was smart-ass reporters asking him about one-time St. Louis Cardinal hurler Al Hrabosky, “The Mad Hungarian.” Mad Hungarian, he simmered, as Dee Brown buried a three. I’ll show them a Mad Hungarian. Let me start a game—like I deserve—and I’ll show them all!

The 27-year-old forward daydreamed again of the Bulls—his Bulls, not this sham he was taking part in. Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann were together—as they still should be, he thought—flipping glib phrase after glib phrase, one-upping each other joyously, as Scottie and Michael and Kornel (oh my!) broke off fast-break dunks, hit each other for long threes and dove after loose balls. That is what I should be taking part in, he told himself, not this costume party. I should be on SportsCenter, not on the bench.

The silence is what brought him out of his reverie. Focusing his eyes, he saw red. The paint. Ha had never gone up-court on offense, and, as he looked up, he saw his destiny steaming straight at him, a skinny kid in a Raptors uniform coiling to leap.

Be careful. Sometimes you get what you wish for.

Russ Bengtson

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