T-Mac: The Newest Bad Boy

by August 10, 2010

by Eric Woodyard / @eric32woodyard

Once a superstar, always a superstar.

It’s now confirmed that Tracy McGrady will officially be taking his talents to the Motor City for the ‘10-11 NBA season. Reflecting on his dazzling career, it quickly brought back memories of not the old T-Mac but better yet the T-Mac of old.

The cocked eye. The swagger. The flashy signature adidas. The superstar!

Although he’s clearly on the downside of his career, he comes at no risk to the franchise by signing a one-year, $1.3 million contract. Seven years ago, the thought of him joining forces with the Bad Boys would have been absurd.

He was the cream of the crop. He was the face of a franchise. His swagger was at its peak.

In the ‘02-03 season, T-Mac became the NBA’s youngest scoring champion, averaging 32.1 buckets per game. He was also considered by many as the League’s best all-around player. ThenTracy McGrady he delivered a Jordan-esque individual performance against the Pistons in the ’03 Playoffs dropping 31.7 points per game.

Despite McGrady’s amazing antics, the Magic still failed to reach the second round of the Playoffs. Even after taking a commanding 3-1 series lead as the eighth seed against the number one seed. After McGrady’s comments prior to Game 5 in which he was quoted as saying how wonderful it was to “finally be in the position to advance to the second round,” he and his troops lost Games 5, 6 and 7 by an average of more than 20 points. Detroit would advance to the next round.

It doesn’t matter what point they are at in their careers, it never seems to work. The trend stays the same: Superstars just can’t play in the Motor City.

Bob McAdoo tanked. Allen Iverson quit.

It’s because players are supposed to become stars in the D.

Isiah Thomas set the tone. Jerry Stackhouse lit up the League. Chauncey Billups was sculpted into one of the best floor generals of his era.

At this point of his career, what makes Tracy McGrady different? Did anyone inform him of how cold it is in the D? It’s gotten so bad that the Little Caesars pizza mogul, Mike Ilitch, has been trying to step in to buy the team so that the franchise won’t get shipped out of town. Last season they stunk up the League, finishing with a 27-55 overall record. This offseason they weren’t even in contention for any big name free agents as they used most of their cap space last summer.

McGrady will also be entering a roster full of wing players which includes Rip Hamilton, Ben Gordon, Austin Daye and Charlie Villanueva. Determination will have to will him through.

Last season, McGrady’s determination was on display as he showed the Pistons that he still had something left in the tank. Making his first start of the season after coming to New York at the trading deadline, McGrady had his most complete game in years. He posted 21 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds as the Knicks snapped a six-game home losing streak by defeating Detroit 128-104 at Madison Square Garden on March 3, 2010.

He would only go on to average 9.4 points in 24 games due to his inability to withstand the pounding of consistent minutes, but this won’t be the case this season. The Pistons will use McGrady as nothing more than a spark off the bench which sources have quoted him as saying he would be willing to do. His new teammate, Charlie Villanueva, has showed his support in the signing of the legend by going on the record to mention McGrady with a tweet earlier today saying: “@TheReal_TMAC It’s official, welcome to Detroit Basketball. Doubters will become believers, all will witness your delivery. Let’s get this!”

The seven-time NBA All-Star is gone. The two-time first-team All-NBA star is a memory. The two-time scoring champion no longer exists. Although history isn’t in his favor, deep down I hope that T-Mac can make one last run and prove that a superstar can shine in Detroit.

Take a trip down memory lane…