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Flashback Week: The Career of Tracy McGrady

Keeping with this week's theme of retro Raptors, the HQ's Scott Campsall takes a look at the career of the recently retired Tracy McGrady.


Tracy McGrady is an unforgettable talent.

Just about anybody who ever saw him play can agree upon that fact. That is why, in the wake of his recently announced retirement, bloggers, web writers and basketball enthusiasts alike have collectively written thousands of words about the man commonly referred to as T-Mac.

Full disclosure: He's also a personal favorite of mine. He exploded onto the scene at about the same time my interest in basketball was initially peaked.

The 12-year old Scott Campsall could routinely be seen wearing an Orlando Magic McGrady jersey with matching Magic shorts -- a prized purchase from my trip to Disney World in 2002.

Let's just say I didn't have a lot in common with the general Raptor fanbase at that time.

McGrady was an absolutely enthralling basketball player to watch for a number of reasons. He played his best basketball during an extremely exciting era of basketball -- one in which volume shooting off guards ruled the league. Players like Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson and McGrady himself racked up the All-Star appearances, playoff appearances and jersey sales because of their ability to put the ball in the basket in spectacular fashion.

Between the years of 2001 and 2008, McGrady simply shredded defenses. At 6'8 he was one of the tallest shooting guards in the league, giving him a considerably height advantage over the defenders that attempted to stop him on a nightly basis.

Thanks to a deadly combination of speed, ball handling skills and a vast shooting range, he was damn-near unstoppable -- a legitimate threat to go for 40 every time he stepped on the floor.

He boasted a career-high 62 points during a 2004 matchup with the Washington Wizards, an Orlando Magic franchise record. He scored more than 40 points in a game 38 times in his career during the regular season and three times in the postseason. He also scored more than 50 points four times.

His individual accolades are staggering: two-time scoring champion, seven straight All-Star appearances, 12- time Player of the Week, four-time Player of the Month, two-time All-NBA first teamer, three-time All-NBA second teamer, two-time All-NBA third teamer and the Most Improved Player in 2001.

Although he will be remembered for all of those things, he will also be remembered for his futility in the playoffs. During his various stops around the league, he failed to make it out of the first round until last season, where he made it to the Finals as the 12th man on the bench for the San Antonio Spurs.

While this is a legitimate criticism of his career, and one that will follow him for as long as his career is talked about, his body of work speaks for itself and should be more than enough to get him into the Hall of Fame.

McGrady also deserves credit for what he helped create during his brief time in Toronto. T-Mac, alongside Vince Carter was a part of the most exciting tandem in Raptors history, one that helped lead the team to their first ever playoff appearance and in turn, aided in the significant growth of the basketball market not just in Toronto but in Canada as a whole.

Granted, he bolted as soon as he got the opportunity to do so, but given his youth and the shadow that was cast by his cousin, the move wasn't all that unreasonable. Despite that justification, many continue to believe the contrary and let him hear it every time he makes a trip to the ACC over a decade later.

Had he decided to stay, he may very well have become the best player to ever don a Toronto Raptors uniform.

It is fitting that, during a week in which we take the time to think back and remember some of the players in Raptors history, one of the more dynamic former Raptors would choose to retire.

His legacy will almost certainly be based upon his ability to score and his inability to win. But in the moment, none of that mattered. He was as captivating of a player to watch as their was in the league. So much so that simple words could never do his game justice.

Instead, I will leave you with this. Just watch: