SLAM: What about Chicago? You made some comments in Chicago about how you trusted Jerry Krause. You’ve got to be the only player ever to…
T-Mac: I do, I trusted him. I think Jerry Krause is a good guy. Now, I could be wrong but I got a good feel from him spending time with him when I was up there.
SLAM: So the scenario of playing for the Bulls did go through your mind?
T-Mac: Oh yeah. I mean, look at the market. Chicago’s huge and the only guy they have that’s really marquee is Elton. Just by the fans in the city and the number of people there, if I played halfway decent I could have made the All-Star game, but that’s not what I’m trying to do. I ain’t gonna lie, I thought about it for a minute, but I want to win and I think that team has set itself back a couple of years.
SLAM: How stressful was this whole process of being a “super free agent?” What actually was going on in your mind during that whole period?
T-Mac: I mean, this is a long-term deal we’re talking about, and as a player you want to make sure the team and organization you select has their priorities straight. Just like they do us. Plus, there has to be that comfort level. Don’t go anywhere and sign a six or seven-year deal some place where you aren’t going to be happy. That’s what it’s all about, happiness. If you’re happy, everything speaks for itself. It allows you to just go out and play. You don’t have to worry about the critics because you’re happy with the situation, happy with the organization, happy with where you’re living. To answer your question, it was stressful, but it was a nice stressful. This whole process let me know that there are other teams out there that were willing to take a chance on me for my game. They didn’t know what type of person I was, so they were basing everything on how I performed on the court. And that’s a great feeling, being 21 years old and having these high-class organizations comin’ at you.
SLAM: Not trying to bust your bubble about Orlando, but I’ve talked to both Shaq and Penny, and both of them said that the media here is the worst in the country as far as supporting the team and its players.
T-Mac: All press can’t be good press. And if we are producing on the court the way that we should, what bad would they have to say? I mean, we’re going to have our haters, but that’s just how this business runs. I can’t worry about that, you know.
SLAM: I heard reporters went extra deep trying to find out what you were going to do; heard they even got your cellie number.
T-Mac: Man, I had to give my brother my phone. It’s amazing how they can track you down.
SLAM: Tell me what the difference is between Tracy McGrady as a free agent [two days ago] and T-Mac officially being on the Orlando Magic [today]?
T-Mac: That’s another great question. I just feel a lot better now, more relaxed. Signing the deal means there’s a lot of [pressures] that have been released. Starting today, I can get back into my workouts. I ain’t got to worry about all of these different reporters calling me, I ain’t got to worry about Alonzo callin’ me asking me to come down there, I don’t have to worry about what anybody else is saying about me. I can just concentrate on ballin’. Today I can just concentrate on working out and getting ready for the season.
SLAM: You didn’t get any gray hairs going through this experience, did you?
T-Mac: Damn near.
SLAM: Would Tim Duncan being here have made a difference?
T-Mac: I never thought Tim was coming. I knew that he was going to stay in San Antonio. I knew that wasn’t going to happen.