This won’t be one of my anger-laced tirades. Instead, this will be one of my rants that I use to pay homage – in this case, to Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady. These two individuals were two of the best players of the NBA’s late 90’s and 00’s era
Iverson was one of the most electrifying players I’ve ever watched. He was one of the most talented scorers in the league and he sat at only 6’0″ and 165 LBs. Iverson’s career and legacy are so marred by off-of-the-court issues that Iverson doesn’t truly receive the appreciation he is due. Yes, I understand that Allen Iverson had huge attitude issues, he was a coach-killer, and never could truly allow himself to be as great as he could be. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate what you did. I’m not making the argument for him as the greatest player ever, but a great player that sometimes is remembered for the wrong things. Allen Iverson averaged 26.7 points per game in his career, including five seasons in which he averaged 30+ points per game. He was one of the most talented scorers the NBA had ever seen with a brutal crossover that constantly embarrassed opponents.
To speak more on Iverson’s legacy, he was one of the most polarizing players when he played in the NBA. You either loved him for what he was: a gifted NBA player with attitude and off-the-court issues or you just didn’t like his attitude and it affected your perception of him entirely. Iverson came out every night and gave 110% on the court, whether it was loose-balls, scoring, steals, or driving into the lane every play and taking an absolute beating – he gave you everything. Maybe he never was a fan of practice:
But what Iverson said in that interview is entirely true, every game you saw Iverson destroy his body and give every ounce of himself to push his team to the next level. The 76ers NBA Finals trip in the 2000-2001 season stands as one of the WORST NBA teams to ever make the NBA Finals and it had everything to do with the star that was Allen Iverson. Iverson willed that team to the NBA Finals: averaging an unbelievable 46.2 minutes per game, 32.9 points per game, 6.1 assists per game, 4.7 rebounds per game AND 2.3 steals per game. Yes, he shot a gaudy 38% from the field, but for a guy that had to will his offense to victory and attempted over 30 freaking shots per game – your percentage will suffer with those circumstances, look at Kobe Bryant in the Lakers down seasons.
4x Scoring Champion, Rookie of the Year in 1996-1997, NBA MVP in 2000-2001, AND an 11x All-Star (EVERY season from 2000-2010)?
Sign him up for the Hall of Fame. If all you can remember is the things he did off of the court, then you never truly understood the difference Iverson made and the importance of his contributions to the NBA, the sport of basketball, and to young, undersized basketball players in showing them that they can made a difference in the game.
While Iverson came in with hype, McGrady exploded on the scene after a slow beginning as an off-the-bench with the Toronto Raptors. He eventually reached his full potential in Toronto, winning the 2000-2001 NBA Most Improved Player, with Vince Carter before Carter eventually went to another team. McGrady’s career is one more filled with what could have been. What could we be saying about Tracy McGrady’s career today if Yao Ming and McGrady had stayed healthy in Houston? McGrady was playing some of his best and most teammate-oriented basketball in Houston around the time that injuries began tearing apart the core.
McGrady was unbelievably athletic, exciting, and talented. Many will argue that McGrady never reached his true potential and led his team to the levels he could’ve. To an extent, it’s true. McGrady never raked in the awards like Iverson, but McGrady was a 7 time All-Star. McGrady’s career cannot be assessed solely on accolades – because that’s not how McGrady built his fan base. McGrady was so athletically superior to many of those around him, it was remarkable. McGrady was an unbelievable dunker, driver, and an extremely underrated passer. I think there’s only a handful of players who have posterized bigger players in the NBA than Tracy McGrady:
I mean look at that play! McGrady played with so much passion and don’t you remember how great this Rockets team was? Also, on a tangent, I really miss Doug Collins as an announcer. I’m pretty sure it just reminds me of my childhood too. However, after the 2008 NBA regular-season, McGrady’s career would never be the same. After getting arthroscopic surgery on his left knee he was never capable of playing at the level he once did nor remain healthy.
McGrady ended his career averaging 19.6 points per game, a number that dropped significantly in the past few seasons due to him playing a very minor role off the bench for multiple teams. In the postseason (disregarding the past two seasons & his first stint in Toronto), Tracy McGrady averaged a massive 29.9 points per game, both with Orlando and Houston. Is Tracy McGrady Hall of Fame worthy? I think he poses less of an argument than Iverson, but frankly I believe both of them should be All-Stars. I don’t believe you can take away from McGrady’s accomplishments simply because injuries slowed him down. He was one of the best guards/forwards in this era. Hall of Fame worthy? Yes, yes & yes!
This video for your viewing pleasure, a fan-made compilation of both player’s greatest moments!