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Yes, Tracy McGrady should be a Hall of Famer

Aug 27, 2013, 9:56 AM EDT

Tracy-McGrady-looks-toward-the-future.-Getty-Images Getty Images

There have been 15 NBA players who retired having scored more than 18,000 points, grabbed more than 5,000 rebounds and made more than 4,000 assists. Each and every one of them is in the Hall of Fame. (Via ESPN Stats and Info.)

Now Tracy McGrady makes it 16 players as he is going to retire from the NBA. But his Hall of Fame credentials are on shakier ground. It’s because the peak of his career wasn’t that long and was cut short by injuries, and it’s because in an era obsessed with titles McGrady did not define himself in the playoffs.

Still McGrady belongs in the Hall. Whether he gets in or not, who knows — the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame selection process seems to be a roulette wheel of chance with the well connected getting in along with the best players.

To me, the Hall should be for the top players of a generation, and McGrady is that. When we talk about the NBA of the early 2000s we often focus on the Shaq/Kobe Lakers, but McGrady was right there as the best player in the league for five years.

This isn’t one of those “there is no doubt” first ballot picks, I’d personally even put Allen Iverson in ahead of him (because Iverson had a bigger impact on the culture of and around the game), but McGrady has the credentials. He deserves to be inducted.

First, he is a two-time NBA scoring champion — every scoring champion except Max Zaslofsky is in. For eight consecutive seasons McGrady scored 20 points a game (and averaged better than 5 rebounds and 4 assists a game all those years, too). People sometimes remember the end of a career, and in McGrady’s case that wasn’t pretty as he battled through knee and back injuries to try and stay on the court, but if you look back at his peak (when people wondered if he or Kobe Bryant was better) then he is one of his generations best.

McGrady was a two-time All-NBA First Team selection (he made the second team five times) and was a seven-time All-Star.

Did his teams struggle in the playoffs? Yes, save for last year’s Spurs (where he rode the bench). But that was not really about McGrady as it was he was largely on teams that were not that good. It’s not like he was on great teams getting upset, he was on the underdog but he played well — he averaged 19.6 points a game for his regular season career, but 22.2 in the playoffs. He had a career regular season PER of 22.1, he had a playoff career PER of 23.4. He didn’t falter in the postseason, his teams did. This is the problem with the “count the rings” argument — basketball is still a team game. Nobody — not Bill Russell, not Michael Jordan, not Magic Johnson — won a ring by themselves, they had good talent around them. McGrady never had that. Should we really hold that against him?

McGrady is going to take a few rounds to get into the Hall of Fame.

But he should eventually get in. His peak may have been short, but he was one of the best of his generation.

  1. whitdog23 - Aug 27, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    mcgrady > iverson.. but neither is a hall of fame worthy in my mind

    • adamsjohn714 - Aug 27, 2013 at 10:44 AM

      A lot of players are better than Iverson. But you’re right, McGrady had too many injuries and too many years that were just “decent” rather than excellent. He just wasn’t productive at a HOF level, though he was on track early in his career. He didn’t age well.

      • bougin89 - Aug 27, 2013 at 12:11 PM

        Allen Iverson was inefficient, nobody in their right mind would argue that. But few could take over games like he could.

      • adamsjohn714 - Aug 27, 2013 at 12:17 PM

        What does taking over a game mean in the grand scheme of things. He stunk up plenty of games to counteract that. The HOF shouldn’t let in people who had a handful of great games on national television. It’s graded on a career. All your games count. Tracy should make the HOF just because he scored 13 points in 35 seconds. Iverson’s CAREER wasn’t very impressive.

      • bougin89 - Aug 27, 2013 at 1:22 PM

        You don’t understand how important momentum is in actual games if you’ve never played or coached.

      • adamsjohn714 - Aug 27, 2013 at 1:30 PM

        Jacking up a ton of shots on a low percentage is bad. Iverson did that a lot. Enjoy those youtube highlights.

      • bougin89 - Aug 27, 2013 at 1:42 PM

        So by your sarcastic comment are you saying momentum isn’t important in actual games?

      • adamsjohn714 - Aug 27, 2013 at 1:55 PM

        By my sarcastic comment I mean that momentum, to my knowledge, has never been quantified, so realistically NOBODY knows its value. People are just guessing. Let’s assume momentum is important. How important is it? More important than being able to shoot the ball? If Iverson was such a great momentum player, why didn’t he bring all that momentum to every game? Momentum is such an antiquated, romantic way to look at the game, and you’re using it to gloss over the myriad of proven, documented problems with Iverson’s play. Iverson has had 6 seasons with over 1000 misses, which is tied for an NBA record. Missing a bunch of shots isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you’ve taken a lot and made a lot as well. However, in 3 of those seasons, Iverson’s TS% is below 50%. He is one of 4 players, and the only one since the 3pt. line was introduced, to EVER do that, and he’s done it 3 times! That’s awful on an epic scale. When combining accuracy and volume, he’s had 3 of the worst shooting seasons in NBA history.

      • bougin89 - Aug 27, 2013 at 4:09 PM

        Like all your comments. You’re only using shooting percentages. Nobody is arguing Iverson was an efficient player. Can you describe the Sixers during his time there?

        So everyone should only use statistics to judge players in your opinion? That’s the only thing you’ll ever argue? Can you tell the difference between different types of post players? The difference between slashing guards, catch and shoot players, and players that are effective off receiving picks off the ball? Are some of these players going to be more efficient?

        If you can’t tell, I’ve been trying to ask if you have any basketball knowledge outside of

      • adamsjohn714 - Aug 27, 2013 at 4:27 PM

        when you’re arguably the worst ever at something really important in basketball, you don’t make the HOF on the back of a great crossover. Perhaps there should be a HOF for “slashing” players that aren’t as good as basketball players…

      • bougin89 - Aug 27, 2013 at 4:58 PM

        In other words your answer is no to my last question, I presume.

        I’ll give it to you though. Tough to strike out this bad:

        “What does taking over a game mean in the grand scheme of things. He stunk up plenty of games to counteract that. The HOF shouldn’t let in people who had a handful of great games on national television. It’s graded on a career. All your games count. Tracy should make the HOF just because he scored 13 points in 35 seconds. Iverson’s CAREER wasn’t very impressive.”

      • dondada10 - Aug 27, 2013 at 5:14 PM

        What made Iverson so good was he did two things exceptionally well: he dribble penetrated and he finished. He was a magician around the glass on his drives.

        Yes, he had some poor shooting %, but if you’re coaching a game you’d be very satisfied to know a possession ended with an Iverson shot. Plus he would pick up an absurd amount of fouls on the opponent, ruining their rotation.

        They put zone in the league to try to stop him.

    • ranfan12 - Aug 30, 2013 at 12:56 PM

      LOL, that’s the best joke I hear all week >_>

  2. bux1022 - Aug 27, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    T Mac is hands down a hall of famer in everyone’s mind, born with some damn sense!

  3. klownboy - Aug 27, 2013 at 10:49 AM

    I agree with bux1022, but McGrady will not be first ballot.

  4. chargerdillon - Aug 27, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    I’m sorry but I couldn’t disagree more. Tracy has no place in the Hall. 1. He’s not a champion. 2. Even in not being a champion he never carried a team the way so many great Hall players who never won a championship did. 3. He did not have a sustaining level of success. Tracy is more comparable to Gilbert Arenas than Allen Iverson. Keep in mind Iverson carried his team all the way to the NBA finals, Tracy never sniffed a finals game.

    The Hall of Fame is a place for the truly greatest in the game, and that’s something Tracy Mcgrady NEVER was. Sorry T-Mac fans, he’s no Hall of Famer

    • bougin89 - Aug 27, 2013 at 12:04 PM

      Don’t we have to base a persons qualifications for the Hall of Fame based on passed HOF’ers?

      Was TMac not as good at Joe Dumars or Reggie Miller? Great players in their own right, but not nearly as dynamic as TMac during his prime. I think the only arguments against TMac are longevity(he was really only elite for 7 years give/take) and his failings in the playoffs. He played on some pretty pathetic teams.

      • bougin89 - Aug 27, 2013 at 12:05 PM

        past NOT passed. -1

    • mustangs2 - Aug 27, 2013 at 12:08 PM

      I’m sorry but I couldn’t disagree with you more, chargerdillon.

      1. Correct, he’s not an NBA champion. But if you use that logic to decide whether players get into the hall of fame, a lot of the NBA legends wouldn’t be in.

      2. Again, I disagree. He played the largest role in one of the longest winning streaks in NBA history (22 games). Aside from that he still carried his team and has some phemonenal playoff averages (in his prime from 2001-2008 he averaged over 30 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in the playoffs.. which are much more impressive then a lot of the legends did in the playoffs).

      3. You’re correct, T-Mac never had a sustaining level of team success. Unfortunately his window was closed due to injuries to Mcgrady and Yao. With that being said, players are the ones being voted into the hall of fame, not teams. And Mcgrady is one player who definitely deserves it.

    • borderline1988 - Aug 27, 2013 at 3:02 PM

      Just because Iverson once carried his team to the NBA Finals (and let’s not forget, the Eastern Conference was so bad that year, the best 2 or 3 teams would have struggled to even make the playoffs in the West), he has had a better career than McGrady?

      The 76ers were the #1 seed in the East in 2001; they would have been lucky to grab the 7th seed in the West. My team the Raptors were the 5th seed, and they took the 76ers to game 7, and were one Vince Carter (ill-advised) fadeaway shot from beating the 76ers.
      Even though I’m a Raptors fan (and I loved those early 2000s teams; they were tough as nails), I admit that they likely would have been blown out by any Western Conference team.

      I’d take McGrady over Iverson; he was simply a better player than Iverson. Which NBA GM would have chosen Iverson over Mcgrady in the mid-2000s?

      • tfoz5150 - Aug 27, 2013 at 10:31 PM

        First off the Sixers took game 1 from the Lakers and should’ve taken game 2 had they not coughed up the lead in LA. The only reason the Sixers got anywhere close to the Finals that year was because of Iverson. Other than him there was no offense. The dude just took over games. I liked McGrady, but he just didn’t have the same dynamic that Iverson did. Iverson was almost mercuriel whereas TMac was damn good.

      • borderline1988 - Aug 28, 2013 at 10:59 AM

        The Sixers shocked everyone in that first game; nobody expected them to win a game. Good for them, I guess?

        The Lakers started rolling after Game 2, and basically dispatched the Sixers like little children in games 4 and 5.

      • 22yearsagotoday - Aug 28, 2013 at 7:44 PM

        Those little children were mighty big.

  5. asimonetti88 - Aug 27, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    If there are women’s college basketball coaches, international players who never played a minute in the NBA, in the Hall of Fame… then yes, T-Mac is a Hall of Famer.

    • paleihe - Aug 27, 2013 at 11:15 AM

      It’s the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Not the NBA hall of fame.

      • asimonetti88 - Aug 28, 2013 at 12:24 PM

        Yes, obviously, I think everyone knows that. The point still stands. The standards for induction are clearly low, just based on the purpose of the Hall.

  6. ryanrockzzz - Aug 27, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    The numbers that are placed at the beginning of the article kind of condradict the argument. If you argue that Tracy McGrady has great career numbers that are HOF worthy- you also have to acknowledge that those numbers were inflated by many years of play at a non- HOF level. So there has be another factor that pushes him in besides career numbers. Now, if he won a NBA title or two, or even had success in the playoffs, I may be inclined to view it differently. I would say okay T-Mac had a great early career, and then stayed in the league and inflated his numbers for a while and then retired. Someone like Lebron James lifted those Cavs teams on his back with limited talent. Never won the big game, but did a hell of a lot with an average team. McGrady never did that, and I just can’t see him in the HOF, but rather hall of very good.

    • paleihe - Aug 27, 2013 at 1:03 PM

      Lebron is also one of the most gifted players in the history of the league, if not professional sports.

      If he’s the benchmark, then you’d have to kick lots of players out of the league.

      • paleihe - Aug 27, 2013 at 1:04 PM

        I meant out of the Hall, not the league.

  7. midnite2020 - Aug 27, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    Listen iverson hands down first ballot thats 1st, 2nd Tmac may have had a short run as a superstar but it was an incredible run not to mention everyone who has hof numbers he killed them in h2h matchups I.e. Kobe Carter iverson pierce all couldn’t stop tmac a healthy tmac was lebron with a jumpshot

    • adamsjohn714 - Aug 27, 2013 at 12:19 PM

      Tmac wasn’t an average shooter for a SF. Below average fg%, 2pt.%, 3pt.%, ft%, eFG%, TS% for his career.

      • bougin89 - Aug 27, 2013 at 5:08 PM

        Shooting wasn’t his only skill. He was one of the most dynamic and complete all around players in the game, albeit for only 7ish years before he got injured.

        Ohhh crap. His fg%’s in his prime years were right around the league average except for FT% even though he was used much more than the “average” player.

        Ahhh damn the Magic should have had someone else be the focal point of their offense.

      • adamsjohn714 - Aug 27, 2013 at 11:21 PM

        The guy said implied he was a good shooter. He wasn’t. I said why. You need to relax, man.

      • bougin89 - Aug 28, 2013 at 9:32 AM

        Yeah, I’ll quit harassing your shooting % only comments. I guess I was unnerved by your comment saying you were going to start mocking me, which was blatantly ignorant as all I’ve been saying is look beyond shooting %’s once in a while(put them in perspective) and you cannot do that.

  8. DonRSD - Aug 27, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    T-Mac had a good run at his peak. Can’t deny that.
    Still remember the slam dunk contest with T-Mac, Vince & Steve Francis.

  9. freudnumb - Aug 27, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    I think TMac+Yao+Artest would have had a fair chance … if all three were healthy that year. (T-Mac did not play in the playoffs; Yao brought the Rockets to the 2nd round … and pretty much ended his career by pulling a Willis Reed moment)

  10. ptownbearsfan420 - Aug 27, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    TMAC!! I even bought a pair of his shoes in my teens and i never was into following players that close but in his raptor days i loved him. Hope he gets in for sure!

  11. stayhigh_247 - Aug 27, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    no question he gets in the hall, but maybe not on the first try. very similar to Melo, not (yet) getting a ring but being the most important player on his team(s). He was the reason I watched those Raptors games back in the day.

  12. chiadam - Aug 27, 2013 at 1:14 PM

    What idiot ever wondered if Kobe was better than McGrady?

    • bjerkrulez - Aug 27, 2013 at 3:05 PM

      Try looking for circa 2000s to get your answer…Kobe and Tmac were the top 2 scoring players of their generation. Many focus on the post injury tmac and not the healthy player

      • tcclark - Aug 27, 2013 at 9:02 PM

        Allen Iverson was a better scorer than both of them. When refering to strictly “scoring players” Allen Iverson is one of the greatest players of all time. I agree with everything else you said though.

  13. legendsports124 - Aug 27, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    Suggestions like this is one reason why the NBA HOF lacks the prestige of Cooperstown and Canton.

    • loungefly74 - Aug 28, 2013 at 8:16 AM

      nailed it. you are absolutely correct. the basketball H0F is a complete afterthought…no one, in the grand scheme….cares…

  14. norcalkingsfan - Aug 27, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    This is not the baseball hall of fame; he hasn’t earned it.

  15. mickdamill - Aug 27, 2013 at 1:52 PM

    Only 15 people in history to reach that bench mark, I think is deserving of being in the HOF but I think it’s important to keep the standards high.

    If there is any doubt for future players to make it, I would say no.

  16. antistratfordian - Aug 27, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    No. What they should be doing is taking players out. There are already too many players in there who shouldn’t be. It cheapens the hall.

  17. bjerkrulez - Aug 27, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    Also most of the scoring champions have a sure place in the HOF. Leading the league in scoring is not an easy feat. And I think Tmac did that twice (also he didnt have the support that kobe had if you ask me) So it was harder for him to score the basketball since most of his teams did not have a consistent number 2 option

    • monkeyonagoat - Aug 28, 2013 at 5:02 AM

      It’s easy to lead the league in scoring if you take 100s more shots than anyone else does, which is what McGrady did in 2003-04. He won the scoring title shooting an absolutely atrocious 41.7% from the field. I’m actually embarrassed for him when I look at that number.

      • doomshades - Oct 20, 2013 at 11:21 PM

        You can’t blame him. That year, he was playing with nobodies like Andrew DeClerq, Tyronn Lue and Gordan Giricek. These three starters combined for only 25ppg on 44% without any capabilities of making their own shot. The best sidekick McGrady had was Juwan Howard who averaged 17ppg on 45% shooting. But even then, his shots, mostly short jumpers, was a result of pick-n-pops with T-Mac.

        T-Mac is the only player opposing defenders really had to focus their defenses on. Despite the defensive pressure, he was way ahead of Stojakovic and Garnett (24.2ppg) in the scoring title. Absolutely nothing to be embarrassed of. Plus, taking to account all 4 seasons with Orlando, T-Mac actually averaged 28ppg on 45 FG%.

  18. tjmac95 - Aug 27, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    You guys that say T-Mac shouldn’t be in the hall are all idiots, T-Mac played most of his prime for bad/ mediocre teams, and when he finally made it to Houston, with a championship caliber team, the rockets were plagued with injuries, and at one point in time, T-Mac and kobe were neck and neck for the best 2 guard in the west, and i honestly believe that if he didnt have the injuries, he would’ve gone down as one of the top 10 2’s of all time, definitely deserves to be in the hall

    • lawson1974 - Aug 27, 2013 at 8:37 PM

      But he did have the injuries, and being on bad teams probably inflated his stats.

  19. antistratfordian - Aug 27, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    “There have been 15 NBA players who retired having scored more than 18,000 points, grabbed more than 5,000 rebounds and made more than 4,000 assists.”

    Let’s take a closer look at this. 13 of the 15 have over 21,500 points. 11 of them have over 6,000 rebounds. 10 of them have over 5,000 assists. The only two players at the 18,000 point level are Scottie Pippen and Rick Barry.

    Pippen has 18,940 points (+559 over McGrady), 7494 rebounds (+2218), 6135 assists (+1974), 10 all-defensive selections (+10) and six rings (+6).

    Rick Barry’s totals are right at McGrady’s level. So out of the 15 players Barry is the only guy McGrady has reached statistically. But Rick Barry also has a championship, Finals MVP, 8 All-NBA 1st Team selections (+6), 12 all-star selections (+5). Barry is also the only player to ever lead the NCAA, ABA and NBA in scoring.

    When you dig a little deeper McGrady really doesn’t compare very well to those other 15 players at all. So in my estimation any argument based mainly on T-Mac having reached 18,000/5,000/4,000 is going to be very weak.

    • antistratfordian - Aug 27, 2013 at 4:06 PM

      Okay, I made a mistake. The totals above for Rick Barry are only for his NBA career, but he played several seasons in the ABA. His overall totals are 25,279 points, 6863 rebounds & 4952 assists. So McGrady can’t touch Barry statistically either (we must respect the ABA).

      So the only other player besides McGrady at the 18,000 point level is Scottie Pippen. But like I said:

      Pippen has 18,940 points (+559 over McGrady), 7494 rebounds (+2218), 6135 assists (+1974), 10 all-defensive selections (+10) and six rings (+6).

      Conclusion is the same.

  20. loungefly74 - Aug 27, 2013 at 4:27 PM

    *diclaimer – as a reminder…the Basketball HoF is very different from baseball or football’s HoF…

    Me…personally, I don’t think T-Mac should go in the HoF…I lump him with guys like Vince Carter, Steve Franchise, Stephon Marbury, …heck let’s add Jamison, Stackhouse, and Mashburn…all those guys can score…yes. they were feed the rock a lot…so yeah, they are going to have the numbers…BUT…it would have helped if their teams would have been successful in the post-season. sorry, having hardware does matter…i’m not saying its the end-all to the matter, lots of guys are rightfully in (Malone, Payton, Stockton, etc)…but those guys like T-Mac are not HoF. they are more “And-1” players…flashy…all icing, no cake players. T-Mac and several of those guys had horrible work ethics. I am not saying T-Mac was not talented….heck, he could have been regarded in the ranks of Kobe…but T-Mac was lazy, aloof, inconsistent, etc….he was not as good as you remembered….in that…no HoF.

  21. sportsfan18 - Aug 27, 2013 at 5:30 PM

    T-Mac is a HOF. He won’t get in on the first ballot, most likely.

    He did lead the league in PER one yr and it was a crazy high PER over 30.

    The man is currently in 28th place all time on the NBA list of PER leaders. 28th place! He is above oh so many hall of fame players in this stat…

    Too many people hear PER and they don’t know what it is really. It takes into account good and bad things as well as other things. Here is what PER is:

    PER takes into account positive accomplishments, such as field goals, free throws, 3-pointers, assists, rebounds, blocks and steals, and negative ones, such as missed shots, turnovers and personal fouls. The formula adds positive stats and subtracts negative ones through a statistical point value system. The rating for each player is then adjusted to a per-minute basis so that, for example, substitutes can be compared with starters in playing time debates. It is also adjusted for the team’s pace. In the end, one number sums up the players’ statistical accomplishments for that season.

    I don’t want to hear others dis advanced stats… If you don’t like advances in things then don’t use the internet, laptops, smart phones and on and on as all of those things weren’t around before.

    So many people say I don’t like change yet they have no problem adapting to change when it comes to using new games, apps, technology etc… and that’s all advanced stats are…

    One may NOT accidently get to 28th place ALL TIME on the list of every man who has ever played in the NBA…

  22. lawson1974 - Aug 27, 2013 at 8:36 PM

    Hopefully, this is a joke. HOF is for the all-time elite.

    McGrady is one of a number of players that were very good, but not Hall of Famers.

    • monkeyonagoat - Aug 28, 2013 at 4:56 AM

      Agreed. The problem is that some players have gained entry in the past who probably did not warrant selection.

  23. tcclark - Aug 27, 2013 at 9:06 PM

    Originally I thought no. There is a difference between All-Star and Hall of Famer, but then I thought about Reggie Miller. Reggie Miller played so many more years in this league, but isn’t even close to achieving the kind of accolades T-Mac achieved in his shortish career. If Reggie’s in, than T-Mac should be too. Unfortunately, he is very similar to Bernard King. He will probably have to wait like King did as well.

    Allen Iverson should be in within the first two ballots. He was easily one of the most dynamic players in the game’s history and is often attributed with the way the game is being played today. It’s a guard driven league now because of Allen Iverson.

  24. monkeyonagoat - Aug 28, 2013 at 4:50 AM

    No way does McGrady warrant HOF selection. He was a volume shooter who never managed to shoot even 46% from the field for a SINGLE SEASON. True legends like Jordan, Bird, and Magic averaged around 50% over their ENTIRE CAREERS! Let’s keep the NBA HOF for the true greats, not the gansta-wanna-be, volume-shooting, ball-palming players from the me-first McGrady-Iverson-Bryant generation.

    • adamsjohn714 - Aug 29, 2013 at 8:37 AM

      gangsta-wanna-be, ball-palming players? haha what a strange assessment. Agreed, though, McGrady and Iverson shouldn’t be in the Hall. Kobe is a lock, and probably should make it based on his quality play for a really long time. His last 4 years or so have colored many fans opinion of him, but he was still very good for over a decade.

  25. buddypuddy - Aug 30, 2013 at 6:18 PM

    If Bad News Marvin Barnes is not in the HOF, nobody should be in it.

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