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McGrady says he would have gotten along with Shaq, unlike Kobe

Sep 5, 2013, 3:12 PM EDT

Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

Some younger Kobe Bryant fans find this hard to believe, but there was a time when Kobe and Tracy McGrady were considered equals. Guys of the same talent level. But their careers diverged: Kobe was winning rings with Shaquille O’Neal, Pau Gasol and talented role players, while Tracy McGrady was stuck on some pretty weak teams and then his body started to break down.

What if the roles had been reversed?

McGrady was on the Jay Mohr show on Fox Sports Radio and talked about if he had been paired with Shaq, as transcribed by Steve DelVecchio at Larry Brown Sports.

“We would have had a great run,” he said when asked about Shaq. “I don’t know how many but, I know it would have never ended like it did with he and Kobe. I have a great relationship with Shaq. We would have never clashed heads like that. Two Alpha dogs going at there will always be (something going on).”

This is a pure hypothetical, a barstool discussion; we have no real idea how that relationship would have worked out inside the pressure cooker of the Lakers in that era. Having a great relationship with Shaq off the court and trying to win with him on it are different dynamics.

It’s unfortunate we will never know how far McGrady could have taken a good team, because he never really got that chance.

  1. shockexchange - Sep 5, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    T-Mac would have gotten along with Shaq as well as he got along with Vince Carter > “What happens when you take career advice from Shelley Long.”

  2. mrsingh24 - Sep 5, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    I’m one of the biggest Kobe Bryant fans out there. However, having watched the league for so many years, I believe the Lakers would have won more championships and kept Shaq if Tracy was on the team instead of Kobe. The reason is not that Tracy is a better player than Kobe, they were nearly identical players, the thing is that Tracy never wanted to adopt the leadership role. Shaq was already the alpha on the Lakers squad and Tracy would’ve fit right in.

    • eureca323 - Sep 5, 2013 at 3:51 PM

      You have a point but at the same time Tmac wasn’t great until like 99-00 season when Shaq/Kobe won their first title and 3 peated. And Shaq started his decline because of his toe surgery by the end of the 3 peat. Shaq was still dominant, but by the time Kobe/Shaq broke up he was declining. That is also near the time Tmac’s injuries started to get to him as well.

      Kobe went on to win 2 more without Shaq as Shaq was nearly out of the league. Would the Tmac/Shaq duo have brought more then the 5 championships that have come in the Kobe era? I don’t know, but there is reason to believe their injuries would have caught up to them.

      • adamsjohn714 - Sep 5, 2013 at 4:15 PM

        by out of the league you must mean a few more productive seasons and another ring, right? Revisionist history at its best.

      • mrsingh24 - Sep 5, 2013 at 6:18 PM

        Well, Shaqs injuries might have caught up to him but I don’t know about Tracy. He had to play significant numbers just to give his team(s) a chance at winning. That’s probably what brought the wear and tear. Bill Simmons did a great article on T-Mac ( in which he lists the players around T-Mac.

        Darrell Armstrong (three years), Bo Outlaw, Andrew DeClercq (two years), Mike Miller (two years), Pat Garrity (two years), Horace Grant (36 at the time), Monty Williams, Jacque Vaughn, Gordan Giricek, Drew Gooden, Yao Ming (two years), David Wesley, Bob Sura, Ryan Bowen, Scott Padgett, Shane Battier (two years), Rafer Alston (two years), Chuck Hayes, Luis Scola, Dikembe Mutombo (somewhere between age 40 and 52 at the time), and Bobby Jackson.

        “T-Mac’s best teammates were Yao Ming, Grant Hill (played 46 games in four years with McGrady), Mike Miller, a washed-up Dikembe Mutombo, a really washed-up Patrick Ewing, and a really, really, really washed-up Shawn Kemp.”

        Now I don’t want to take anything away from Kobe Bryant because he had the better attitude and that gene that drives players to greatness. But I still think that if T-Mac had the fortune of being surrounded by players that Kobe has been around, he could’ve tied Kobe or even Michael.

      • zoomy123 - Sep 6, 2013 at 4:37 PM


        Either you’re too young to remember what happened or you’re making up nonsense.

        First, Shaq and Kobe didn’t win “their” first title in 2000. In the 2000 NBA Finals Kobe Bryant averaged 15 ppg on 37% shooting from 2 and 20% shooting from 3. Shaq, on the other hand, averaged 38-17 and almost 3 blocks per game.

        Second, Shaq and T-Mac did not decline around the same time. Shaq’s decline started in ’03-’04 when he went from 27.5 ppg to 21.5 ppg. Meanwhile, in ’06-’07 T-Mac was still averaging 25-5-6.

        Third, while Kobe did win 2 more rings with the Lakers, that’s only because Jerry Buss refused to trade Kobe when Kobe demanded to be traded in 2007. If Buss would have obliged Kobe in 2007, guess what Lakers fans? You would have 2 less rings right now.

    • eureca323 - Sep 5, 2013 at 4:34 PM

      I said he was nearly out of the league when Kobe won his last 2 championships. Which was in 2009 and 2010. Shaq retired in 2011.

      • adamsjohn714 - Sep 5, 2013 at 5:12 PM

        “Kobe went on to win 2 more without Shaq as Shaq was nearly out of the league.”

        Learn to write a sentence that says what you mean.

      • bougin89 - Sep 5, 2013 at 5:33 PM

        ^tough crowd

        I get what you’re saying eureca323. Shaq was still a good player but was rarely healthy and his body was pretty much falling apart his last few seasons. He couldn’t take the grind of an NBA season anymore and this coming from a Shaq fan.

      • adamsjohn714 - Sep 5, 2013 at 5:46 PM

        well yeah in his last year’s he was falling apart. He got injured just jogging down the court for the celtics……. in one of his first games back after another injury.

  3. timb12 - Sep 5, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    This is a poor reason. I have many friends who I have great relationships with, but I know we wouldn’t work well together.

    That being said the Tmac/Yao period in Houston worked really well.

  4. socalgal64 - Sep 5, 2013 at 3:52 PM

    For McGrady to get along with Shaq, he would have had to kiss his ass, take a back seat and not care about his lackadaisical attitude toward working hard. That’s what Kobe didn’t do. And McGrady would not have stopped Shaq from disrespecting Jerry Buss with his demands for more money, which is why he was traded. It had nothing to do with Kobe.

  5. herkulease - Sep 5, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    Kobe’s desire to be the alpha dog is what kicked Shaq’s butt to work. There are times when Shaq was lazy and didn’t want to put the work in. He needed someone to motivate him.

    I’m not sure McGrady’s if passive attitude would’ve worked out. Maybe the first few years when Shaq was motivated with Phil’s arrival but his motivation waned as the Lakers won.

  6. freudnumb - Sep 5, 2013 at 4:10 PM

    A TMac/Shaq combo or Kobe/Yao combo would have worked better in terms of personality — and perhaps would have been very entertaining to watch. Neither Yao Ming nor McGrady had the dominant alpha-dog personality … which made them selfless teammates but unsatisfactory leaders.

    • adamsjohn714 - Sep 5, 2013 at 4:16 PM

      yeah tim duncan is an awful leader…

      • mickdamill - Sep 5, 2013 at 6:56 PM

        You should know better than to use sarcasm on this sight.

  7. lawest111 - Sep 5, 2013 at 5:15 PM

    T-Mac was an excellent player but never at Kobe’s level. This debate went on when they were both in their primes. The difference is that Kobe was a great defender, first team all nba year after year. T-Mac could never defend. Also, Kobe is better in the clutch.

    • adamsjohn714 - Sep 5, 2013 at 5:50 PM

      Maybe Kobe was great in the clutch, but the Lakers got a lot worse in the clutch. Either every set of Kobe’s teammates that made up the other 4 players on the court got way worse in the clutch, which constitutes possibly a hundred NBA players and Kobe was the only player struggling against their dead weight and keeping them afloat, or perhaps (as numbers show) Kobe wasn’t very good in the clutch, and dragged team productivity down from it’s usual level. Occam’s Razor, anyone?

      • mrsingh24 - Sep 5, 2013 at 6:25 PM

        The whole “clutch factor” is a joke honestly. If we want to look at “clutch” shots statistically, Billups and Robert Horry are one of the best “clutch” shooters in history. But the reason why its a joke is because when people throw in names of superstars, the stats become muddled. Players like Kobe arnt afraid of taking those clutch shots and they take them in big numbers. Sometimes you make em and sometimes you miss em. The stats people should be looking at are the player efficiency numbers in the waning minutes (2-3 minutes) of the game.

    • antistratfordian - Sep 6, 2013 at 3:09 AM

      “T-Mac was an excellent player but never at Kobe’s level.”

      Eh… T-Mac was better than Kobe around 2002, 2003 and 2004. Kobe was an overrated defender during this period and T-Mac was a better and more efficient offensive player during these years.

      Phil Jackson, 2005: “Kobe’s defense, to be accurate, has faltered in recent years, despite his presence on the league’s all-defensive team. The voters have been seduced by his remarkable athleticism and spectacular steals, but he hasn’t played sound, fundamental defense. Mesmerized by the ball, he’s gambled too frequently, putting us out of position, forcing rotations that leave a man wide open, and doesn’t keep his feet on the ground.”

  8. divan22 - Sep 5, 2013 at 7:42 PM

    Yep, Kobe’s an absolutely poisonous teammate. Is this news?

  9. beach305 - Sep 5, 2013 at 8:29 PM

    Which is why I could never see Kobe sharing the spotlight had Lebron joined the Lakers.

  10. petermac44 - Sep 5, 2013 at 10:51 PM

    McGrady = Dream on!!! Thise Championships were far more Kobes in the clutch than Shaq’s, 2 things that you have in common with Shaq – You never make it happen in the clutch and you truly are not leaders…Behave and be humbled to know Kobe gave you a shout out, very positive thing to do for your lackluster career and horrible ending. Kobe was and is more intense than Shaq or you and that is what got the Lakers those Rings, not being nice and pretending to co-sign off on all Shaqs laziness, lack of focus a unwillingness to show respect to the true MVP of his team.

  11. 32magicman - Sep 5, 2013 at 11:33 PM

    Of course Mcgrady would have gotten along with Shaq. Any player in the league would love to be on the same team as the leagues most dominant big man. Except Kobe. Who didn’t want to. Twice. First with Shaq then with Dwight. Too selfish and dim to realise what he lost.

    • asimonetti88 - Sep 6, 2013 at 10:28 AM

      For someone whose name suggests they are a Magic fan, I guess you’re forgetting the friction between Shaq and Penny Hardaway?

      Or perhaps the friction between Shaq and Dwayne Wade?

      Or, if we’re including those he didn’t play with, Dwight Howard?

      Shaq- outstanding player in his prime, entertaining personality from afar, but his track record suggests he’s not necessarily easy to get along with.

  12. maddogg911 - Sep 6, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    With a game on the line, no one is better than Kobe, he has an arsenal of lethal moves, his attitude and his will to win is second to none. Talent will only take you so far. This is stupid discussion. Tracy was just a scorer and that’s why he never won anything . The mamba will rise in 2013!!!

    • adamsjohn714 - Sep 6, 2013 at 2:35 PM

      hahaha what a bunch of meaningless drivel. Are you a playoff promotional advertisement writer?

  13. maddogg911 - Sep 6, 2013 at 12:48 PM

    Petermac44 well said!!!

  14. lhollis74 - Sep 7, 2013 at 12:55 AM

    The main reason t- Mac and Shaquille would have gotten along better is the fact that they both lack a sense of work ethic! Had t-Mac taken better care of his body, it would not have broken down like it did. Make no mistake, Kobe clashed with Shaquille first and foremost because the work ethic was absent. Kobe and everyone else knows that the leaders on a team set the tone for the rest of the players, and the tone Shaquille set was a minimal workout, show up over weight, out of shape, and rely strictly on talent with no overriding desire to improve all around (free throws!?).

    For the record, the lasting image in my mind concerning the Kobe/Shaquille era will always be Kobe still on the court, in the finals seconds of the championship, being swept by the Detroit pistons still playing his heart out, while Shaquille was on the pine having already gave up. I can not and do not ever want to forget that!

  15. lhollis74 - Sep 7, 2013 at 1:08 AM

    Oh, and if you didn’t now, athletes workout lifting weights and such in order to strengthen their bodies to endure the stress put on by the job they perform, not just to dead lift and bench press a lot of weight. It’s not just luck that Duncan, Grant Hill, and Garnett have lasted as long as they have.

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