Jerry West Wanted Tracy McGrady to Join Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal

by December 18, 2017
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Former Lakers GM Jerry West became enamored with Tracy McGrady heading into the 1997 NBA Draft, and attempted to form a three-headed monster in Hollywood with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.

In the end, owner Jerry Buss shot down the idea, and T-Mac ended up in Toronto.

Those against the push to draft McGrady didn’t want the Lakers to give up Eddie Jones and what they felt was a shot at the championship.

Per the NY Times:

As the Lakers’ longtime roster architect, West was famously smitten by the predraft workout performance that Bryant, then 17, unleashed against the longtime Lakers defensive standout Michael Cooper, who was an assistant coach by that point. As [Del] Harris tells it, Tracy McGrady had an even more impressive audition for the Lakers one year later, prompting West to make a brief but serious push to try to acquire McGrady’s draft rights and team him with O’Neal and Bryant.

 

“I don’t think anybody can look at an 18-year-old and say he’s a Hall of Famer,” Harris said. “You couldn’t even do that with Jordan. And Kobe was a young 18 in his first season. He was still in a pretty normal teenage body, compared to when LeBron James came in and had a man’s body.

 

“McGrady came in the next year with a more mature body and worked out so well that Jerry kind of tooled around with the idea that maybe we should just go ahead and make a deal for whatever it took to get this guy — even though it’d be a step back in the short term — to have two guys like this on the same team.”