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Tracy McGrady: Kobe was toughest he ever had to guard

Aug 22, 2013, 11:08 AM EDT

Kobe Bryant Tracy McGrady Getty Images

A few days ago had his public charity event, Kobe Bryant said the most difficult player for him to guard was Tracy McGrady.

Now McGrady is throwing some love back at Kobe. TMZ camera crews were hanging around LAX (as they do) and caught McGrady getting on a flight and asked him about his toughest to guard.

“It’s Kobe, all day…. Absolutely, ain’t nobody close.”

McGrady says he didn’t play against prime Michael Jordan, although his rookie year was the last of Jordan’s Bulls championship teams so there was a little crossover. But peak McGrady didn’t face peak Jordan. Kind of the same thing with LeBron James — they crossed paths, most recently in the NBA Finals last season, but peak McGrady says he never really faced peak LeBron.

So he goes with Kobe. This feels a little like the book publishing trick of having authors glowingly praise each others books on jacket-cover blurbs (they trade praise all the time). That can come off as hollow.

But Kobe is his call. A lot of you with disagree with it, but it’s his opinion.

McGrady has still not landed an NBA job for next season.

  1. spthegr8 - Aug 22, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    2 of the BEST shooting guards of all-time. It’s really is a SHAME T-Mac’s career was cut short due too injuries. He was a special player and fun to watch. Kobe, IMO, is the 2nd best shooting guard of ALL-TIME. Only 2nd too you know who…

    • kb2408 - Aug 22, 2013 at 1:41 PM

      Kobe’s body of work may not be as impressive as MJ’s but I think he’s as good as anyone that has ever played.

      • spthegr8 - Aug 22, 2013 at 1:58 PM

        Agreed!! Can’t argue with that!!

      • 00maltliquor - Aug 22, 2013 at 2:38 PM

        Yuuup! To say the least. I actually put him #2 ALL-TIME, not just in the SG category. Yeah you can argue Kareem, Magic, Wilt, but when it comes to pure skills…Kobe just does it better. Sorry. Go ‘head Kobe haters, thumbs down button is located below for your convenience. ;-D

      • gettinbuckets513 - Aug 22, 2013 at 3:24 PM

        You are delusional if you think Kobe is even top 10. He was/is a undisciplined shooter who missed more shots than he took. He’ s 20th in PER, while MJ is number 1. Kobe has won 2 scoring titles while MJ had 10 on 50% shooting and has the highest scoring average ever, (tied with Wilt). And have you seen MJ numbers in the playoffs compared to Kobe’s? Not even close. Its ok to like Kobe but stop with the BS!

      • kb2408 - Aug 22, 2013 at 5:08 PM

        @gettinbucked….let’s see, am I gonna put more stock into.what some dude with a smart phone has to say, OR the opinion of several very respected NBA historians, writers, etc., because every list I’ve seen compiled by them list Kobe in its top 10. Of course there are some that list him top 15 but I’ve yet to come across one that lists him lower than that. Plus, I have my own eyes as well, sir.

  2. skinsfanwill - Aug 22, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    McGrady was a lazy bum. He wasn’t hurt, he was stealing money. Yeah, we remember the fake elbow injury that never happened.

    • spthegr8 - Aug 22, 2013 at 12:21 PM

      @ skins
      Any credibility you had, is GONE NOW with that statement!! Just Sayin’!!!

    • badintent - Aug 23, 2013 at 12:12 AM

      Tracy never paid defense. He let his cuz Vince do that for him on the Raps.When two scorers face each other, they don’t play defense so they don’t get into foul trouble and limit their minutes and chances to jack up shots.NBA standard procedures

  3. 00maltliquor - Aug 22, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    Dang right he’s the hardest to guard! Dude has every move in the book down to a science and then some.

  4. rumar1989 - Aug 22, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    Spthegr8, Kobe is up there as the best 2 guards ever. you may call it 2nd best 2guard behind you know who, but i
    would say, he’s in the top 2, i won’t use the term second best like you did, appropriate way to put it, is top 2 shooting guards ever. One things for sure, he’s worth a comparison to Mike, leader with his teammates, hit clutch shots, knows what it takes to lead a team to championship, and just a flat out winner.

    • antistratfordian - Aug 22, 2013 at 1:48 PM

      Kobe is not a top 2 shooting guard.

      • kb2408 - Aug 22, 2013 at 4:19 PM

        Soooooo, who’s number two in your opinion, sir?

    • asimonetti88 - Aug 22, 2013 at 3:53 PM

      Jordan and Kobe are both awesome. I am glad I got to see them both play.

      • ranfan12 - Aug 24, 2013 at 7:50 PM

        Wtf, you’re still going to see Kobe play lol. That didn’t come out right haha

  5. bux1022 - Aug 22, 2013 at 12:31 PM


    MJ is number one. Mamba is two. Word it however you want!

    • kb2408 - Aug 22, 2013 at 1:52 PM

      I sure wish they could’ve met in their prime… those of you that think MJ was clearly better than Kobe might have a different opinion. Kobe was every bit as good as MJ.

      • antistratfordian - Aug 22, 2013 at 2:04 PM

        “Kobe was every bit as good as MJ.”

        No he wasn’t. He was not even anywhere close. Much too inefficient and I’m not just talking about field goal percentage.

      • sportsfan18 - Aug 22, 2013 at 3:50 PM


        First, Kobe is one of the all time greats… of that there is no doubt. But even Kobe fans have to realize that while he’s one of the best ever, he isn’t every bit as good as MJ.

        There are far too many stats that show this, especially their shooting percentages. MJ shot much higher from the field. He was a much more efficient player.

        Read carefully now (NONE of these are advanced stats btw, but if I turned to them, they’d favor MJ too, but for now I’m sticking to normal stats).

        For 36 min’s of court time, MJ had less turnovers per 36 min’s than Kobe, more assists than Kobe, more rebounds than Kobe, more steals than Kobe, more blocks than Kobe and he took more shots than Kobe and scored more than Kobe.

        Think about that and let it sink in. For 36 min’s of court time, the player who shot and scored more, MJ, also had more assists per 36 min’s, more steals, blocks, more rebounds, fewer turnovers etc…

        And, as great as a defender as Kobe is, MJ was not a one dimensional player who didn’t play D either. MJ was a defensive player of the yr winner something Kobe never achieved.

        MJ has a higher offensive rating than Kobe and a better Defensive rating than Kobe.

        Being 2nd all time in the NBA as far as shooting guards to MJ is not a crime…

        And it isn’t fair to compare MJ’s stats in NBA finals games, he played in 35 NBA finals games. Kobe, so far, has played in 37 finals games. Keep in mind that NO NBA final series that MJ ever appeared in ever made it to a game 7. MJ always had them wrapped up by game 6 at the latest and he never lost an NBA championship series either.

        MJ averages way more points per NBA finals games than Kobe, more rebounds and more assists per game too.

        MJ averaged a bit over 48% shooting in NBA finals games. Kobe is right around 41% shooting in NBA finals games.

        So, take your pick with regular season stats or NBA finals stats, MJ exceeds Kobe.

        But you know what? KOBE IS an all time great. He has nothing to be ashamed of. MJ was a bit better.

        We all know Kobe has been playing a lot of minutes the last few yrs. 38.5 this past season, 38.6 2 yrs ago and 38.8 mins a game 4 yrs ago.

        So he has been INCREASING his mins played per game average for his career.

        Kobe has averaged 36.6 mins a game for his career.

        MJ averaged 38.3 mins a game for his career.

      • kb2408 - Aug 22, 2013 at 4:14 PM

        @anti, obviously you’re one of those “MJ is God” type of fans. Well, I’m not! How can anyone say MJ was better than Magic, Oscar, Kobe, Bird, Wilt, KAJ, LeBron, Elgin, or West? It’s all subjective and based on opinion. I don’t just base my opinion on numbers. ALL the greats have numbers. I base it more on what my eyes tell me. And they tell me that Kobe is as good as any single sing player I’ve ever seen.

      • asimonetti88 - Aug 22, 2013 at 4:20 PM

        No, he is just completely anti-anything positive said about any Lakers player.

      • sportsfan18 - Aug 22, 2013 at 5:01 PM

        Hey guys,

        first, the comment I was replying to said “Kobe was every bit as good as MJ.” from kb2408.

        That is why everything I mentioned pertained to only Kobe and MJ.

        Yet your reply to me mentions many other players…

        I said that Kobe IS an all time great and that there was NO argument on this.

        You say stats only go so far, well I guess you’d have to say that when MJ’s are better.

        So you then say that you go by more than stats, you go by what your eyes can tell you.

        Well your eyes should tell you that MJ, while on the court for 36 mins of game action, put the ball through the basket more than Kobe, he rebounded more than Kobe, he dished out more assists than Kobe, he stole the ball more than Kobe and he blocked more shots than Kobe…

        That’s what people’s EYES saw when they watched MJ play vs. watching Kobe play.

        Hating on ALL Laker players?

        Not at all. Kareem doesnt get nearly enough credit. 6 MVP’s. 6 NBA championships. All star more than others like Kobe, MJ or even LBJ will end up with. All time points leader.

        Magic. I love Magic and his game. He’s #9 on the all time true shooting percentage list in the NBA to Kobe’s 130th place.

        Magic was an unbelievable player, a top 3 player on my personal list being MJ, Magic and Bird. Now I know others won’t have Bird that high and I understand.

        Russel, Chamberlain, the Big O, Kobe etc… To me, Kobe is in my top 10 all time.

        If you ACTUALLY read what I said, I said that Kobe WAS CLOSE to MJ, but he was’t better. I said MJ was a BIT better.

        I didn’t slam Kobe or any Laker players at all.

        Kobe is great. He’s the 3rd best Laker behind Magic and Kareem…

        Dr. Buss had an incredible 30 yr run or so, one I don’t think will be duplicated anytime soon.

        Much credit to Dr. Buss and what the Laker organization accomplished.

        But as great as Kobe is, and he IS great, MJ is a bit better.

        No where have I put down Kobe or the Lakers.

      • bougin89 - Aug 23, 2013 at 3:20 PM

        “@anti, obviously you’re one of those “MJ is God” type of fans. Well, I’m not!”

        But you’re one of those “Kobe is God” type of fans.

        Pot meet Kettle.

  6. bux1022 - Aug 22, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    He’s a skins fan a never had any!!

  7. dezglobal - Aug 22, 2013 at 12:38 PM


  8. kb2408 - Aug 22, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    Kurt, who would you expect them both to say? They’re from the same era and for a few seasons they were the two best wing players in the league. Why do you have to assume they’re simply patting each other on the back? Why the skepticism? I mean, to me, it makes perfect sense that they would feel that way. LeBron is almost a decade younger than both Kobe and Tracey. And MJ is more than a decade older than the both of them. Between the MJ and LeBron era’s, Kobe was the best perimeter player, and Tracey, in his prime, was arguably the second best.

  9. money2long - Aug 22, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    kurt, i know it may just look like tmac is reciprocating love back for kobe’s comments a few days ago and you mentioned something about it being hallow in that sense, but i remember a letter tracy mcgrady sent out to fans on facebook when he left the nba for china around 2 years ago in which it was pretty much a farewell. in that letter he thanked a bunch of people who helped him throughout his career…coaches, trainers former teammates. however, within those thank you’s he only mentioned a thank you to ONE current nba player .. guess who ? kobe bryant.

    this is what he said : “Kobe, you made me work harder and it was an honor to play against you.”

    keep that in mind guys as you think about tmac’s recent comments about kobe.

  10. money2long - Aug 22, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    this site blows my mind sometimes when you see 8 comments but it only says 7 comments showing because your comment is invisible .

    • kb2408 - Aug 22, 2013 at 1:47 PM

      money2…you’re preaching to the choir! Some of the crap that shows up amazes me. But when I drop knowledge on these numbskulls I’m the only one that can see it!!

      • jimeejohnson - Aug 22, 2013 at 2:01 PM

        I see what you did.

      • money2long - Aug 22, 2013 at 3:20 PM

        haha @ kb…it’s like hitting a full court shot in an empty gym…no witnesses for a gem

    • 00maltliquor - Aug 22, 2013 at 2:43 PM

      @ money

      I KNOW!!!! Glad to know it doesn’t just happen to me!! I already had 2 comments on this article alone blocked for no good reason!!

      • money2long - Aug 22, 2013 at 3:18 PM

        it’s so annoying !

  11. nygdriveforfive - Aug 22, 2013 at 2:15 PM

    Mcgrady and Kobe need to get off of each others jock. I’m waiting for VC to chime in on who he thinks was the toughest to guard. But we all know that won’t happen cus Vince doesn’t care about D.

  12. senorpapino - Aug 22, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    The fact that after 17 years in the league Kobe averages 27/6/5 speaks volumes to his talent. When he hangs it up for good, it will be a sad day for the NBA.

  13. nygdriveforfive - Aug 22, 2013 at 2:28 PM

    If VC was asked this question he would probably answer that sniper who keeps shooting me down, and that’s why I react like I do everytime someone comes anywhere near me. That guy is a tough cover.

  14. nightrain42 - Aug 22, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    MJ played in a diluted league talent wise. In this day, he wld be good, but no way that whack squad wld win 3 straight twice. Wilt was the greatest most dominate ever. People forget how much of a ball hog MJ was pre Phil.

    • gettinbuckets513 - Aug 22, 2013 at 4:50 PM

      @nighttrain42 You must be a youngster because you have no clue about bball.
      1) The 90’s had some of the best ballers of all time like MJ, Barkley, Ewing, D Robinson, Malone, Stockton, Drexler, Hakeem, Dominique, etc etc
      2) I don’t know how someone can win 10 scoring titles on 50% and the #1 PER of all time and be considered a ball hog? A ball hog would be inefficient which MJ was not.

  15. ebrownwareagle - Aug 22, 2013 at 6:50 PM

    I seen the 80’s 90’s and present! MJ NEVER played against Dudes as Big AND Athletic as These Guys.

  16. imakcds - Aug 22, 2013 at 8:45 PM

    If you know the game, then you would know Kobe is one of the most phenomenal, most fundamentally sound players ever to play the game. To denigrate his game only shows your ‘hate’ .
    LeBron is not my favorite human being, yet it’s obvious to me that he is the most effective and influential player on the court in this day and age.
    Again, IF you know the game …

  17. glink123 - Aug 22, 2013 at 9:19 PM

    MJ played against arguably the most physical, powerful players in the modern bball era. Remember, you could HAND CHECK during the majority of MJ’s career. Anthony Mason. Dale Davis. Karl Malone. Patrick Ewing. Buck Williams. Xavier McDaniel. Charles Barkley. Alonzo Mourning. Dennis Rodman. Bill Laimbeer. Otis Thorpe. These are all guys that would have no problem knocking you on your a$$.

  18. lhollis74 - Aug 23, 2013 at 4:00 AM

    For you buffoons that bring up the fg% issue between Kobe and mj, don’t you think the implementation of the zone defense allowing the second defender to arrive much quicker to also contest shots along with the primary defender had a little bit to do with that %? Idiots!

    • nbd23 - Aug 23, 2013 at 2:51 PM

      Ever heard of a hand check? Turns out that the physical nature of the game before is much worse on your shooting percentage then a zone defense but nice try. Kobe is a great player but he doesn’t fit in Jordan’s league.

    • bougin89 - Aug 23, 2013 at 3:31 PM

      That’s a buffoon comment, bro.

      Perimeter defenders can’t touch offensive players like they could in the 80’s and 90’s. Jordan never played against help defense? You clearly don’t remember the “Jordan rules”.

      Also, big men in the 80’s and 90’s swatted a lot more shots than today. Do you think all of those shots came on man to man defense? I know their were much better big men back then but come on.

  19. pistolpete0903 - Aug 23, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    Used to be a fan of T-mac in his heydays; he was as good a player ON OFFENSE. Had good moves and was athletic as well before injuries took over.
    Having said that, he wasn’t well known for his defense. Hence, I wouldn’t put too much stock in him judging players to be defended.
    For people who haven’t seen him play much, he was kinda Kevin Durant (who I really admire; arguably the most polished player on offense in the league)

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