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Tracy McGrady, reflecting on his career, says he wishes he would have stayed in Toronto

Sep 14, 2013, 3:30 PM EDT

tracy mcgrady vince carter raptors Getty Images

Tracy McGrady‘s NBA career didn’t really begin to blow up until after his third season, but most who observed his game closely knew it was coming.

That was unfortunate for the Toronto Raptors, the team that drafted McGrady with the ninth overall pick in 1997, but who would lose him to Orlando in free agency just as he was preparing to ascend to incredible heights.

McGrady didn’t realize how good he had it in Toronto at the time, however, and now that he’s retired and has had some time to reflect, he says he would have done things differently with the benefit of hindsight.

From Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star:

McGrady, who grew up in tiny Auburndale, Fla., fled to nearby Orlando only months after his 21st birthday, and his return trips to the Air Canada Centre would be accompanied by the vicious boos of a jilted populous. But more than 13 years later, in the days since he announced his retirement from the NBA last month at age 34, McGrady has been looking back fondly on his time in the NBA’s Canadian outpost.

“In hindsight, looking back, obviously I wish I had stayed in Toronto,” McGrady was saying in a recent telephone interview from his home in the Houston area. “There’s no doubt we could have contended for a championship. I think about that often. But if ‘if’ was a fifth, you know?” …

“Had I been a little older and wiser and knew what was ahead of me, I would have stayed, no doubt, with those guys. But that was some of the best times of my life, man. Being with (Charles) Oakley and Kevin Willis and Antonio Davis, Muggsy (Bogues), Dell Curry, Dee Brown. Man. I still talk to a lot of those guys to this day. Because I appreciated how they looked out for me. They were all professionals.”

The Raptors had their best NBA season in the year following McGrady’s departure, taking the Sixers to seven games in the Eastern Conference semis and coming within a missed jumper from Vince Carter at the buzzer from advancing.

Had McGrady remained, of course, things might have turned out a whole lot differently not only that season, but for years to come for the Raptors franchise. While the sentiment from McGrady is nice, it won’t make fans in Toronto feel any less pained by the decision he made all those years ago.

  1. pukpokito - Sep 14, 2013 at 4:12 PM

    knucklehead and airhead. Typical star at that time looking for bigger and better things.him, webber.hated those guys for theior lack of loyalty and having way to high of opinion for themselves. talented but brats.

    • money2long - Sep 14, 2013 at 4:41 PM

      for perspective…at full capacity, full strength..kd got nothing on tmac. tmac had an all around game. probably just as good a scorer as durant, but as a passer, tmac has the upper hand. tmac also had a better array of moves. for all of tmac’s abilities, he still remained very unselfish on the court. jeff van gundy had to yell at him one time for passing the ball too much. he may have had a high opinion of himself, but he certainly wasn’t full of himself.

    • adamsjohn714 - Sep 14, 2013 at 4:43 PM

      There is no loyalty in the NBA. Players pretty much look for the biggest payday, which they should. These owners try to gouge them every chance they get.

      • badintent - Sep 15, 2013 at 7:24 PM

        Ah. The union speech we can’t leave on $ 90 K a year with $60K a year pensions with full medical and dental benies. Please spare us the union millionaire lamants. “I can’t live on $12 million a year “.. Sprewell.Burn your soap box. or donate to Donald Fehr. Has he sent your check yet ?

      • adamsjohn714 - Sep 15, 2013 at 7:42 PM

        yeah, you’re right. Those players shouldn’t be so greedy. Trying to take money from those poor NBA owners…a few of which might be billionaires. Let’s let THEM have all the money that the NBA earns. Welcome to the real world, where the market indicates these players’ values. I’m sorry you don’t like basketball players making money, but I see how often they practice, work out, and prepare as a certain “education” for their profession.

    • kb2408 - Sep 14, 2013 at 5:38 PM

      Who pee’d on your corn flakes this morning?!

  2. shockexchange - Sep 14, 2013 at 5:31 PM

    In the Shock Exchange’s opinion, this is what happens when you take career advice from Shelley Long.

  3. kb2408 - Sep 14, 2013 at 5:44 PM

    It’s easy for T-Mac to say that now but had he and Grant Hill been able to stay healthy, and play together a few seasons, they would’ve been a dynamite perimeter duo. He made the right decision leaving Toronto. It just didn’t work out. Toronto is beautiful but I think most NBA players would prefer living in Florida. It’s not like other stars didn’t also leave Toronto.

    • badintent - Sep 15, 2013 at 7:30 PM

      Try some facts… just for a change. The moron cried to his cuz (Vince Carter) to pass him the ball so he could get some Kobe ballhog street cred while Vince”s Uncle And the Coach of the team had enough of Tmac’s childish behavior in the locker room and on the court.Yeah , Tmac was just a spoiled immature brat who grew up much later in life but he still belongs in China. Starbury will tell him what life is like when you have to work at your game in 4 hour practices.
      Eat ya noodles Tmac

    • badge3832 - Sep 16, 2013 at 9:32 AM

      I’ve only been to Miami and Tampa, never Orlando. I prefer Toronto.

  4. nickmiller63 - Sep 14, 2013 at 5:53 PM

    “populace,” unless they spell it differently up north.

  5. ProBasketballPundit - Sep 14, 2013 at 6:53 PM

    Those guys look so cute & happy in that picture. Shame they broke up.

  6. gdub520 - Sep 16, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    mcgrady left toronto mostly because he didn’t want to play 2nd fiddle to his cuz vince carter. i agree that he and grant hill would have been a very interesting pair if they both had stayed healthy, but mc grady wanted to be the man. had he stayed healthy, he and kobe would have probably had some all-time great head to head battles, they had a few as it was. would have been the matchup of the era.

    i also notice what seems to be a basic difference in he and kobe’s upbringing in the league and/or maybe their personalities. tmac says his veterans looked out for him, yet he still bailed on them first chance he got. kobe will tell you the lakers vets didnt give a shiz about him and often left him out when they went out. yet kobe stayed and outplayed and outlasted them all. mac was basically soft, kobe was a killa

    • adamsjohn714 - Sep 17, 2013 at 12:41 AM

      kobe stayed healthy, Tmac didn’t. Kobe had a dominant Shaq. Tmac had Yao, whose feet snapped like KitKats.

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