Oh, if Tracy McGrady could only still play as good a game as he can talk. Because when he met with the New York media for the first time today as a member of the Knicks, he was saying all the right things.
“This is not the same Tracy from last season when I was hobbling on one leg. That’s not going to be me. ”
“I know these guys are seven games out of the playoffs, but this is the team I really wanted to come to.”
[If the Knicks can sign LeBron James Dwyane Wade] “I’d be a damn fool not to want to stay here . . . Money is not an issue [for me].”
That sounds great, but unless McGrady came to New York with a DeLorean and a flux capacitor that can go get the McGrady from 2005 or earlier, the words may be hollow. Injuries have taken their toll, but his field goal percentage has not been above 43 percent since 2004. When he’s taken a lot of threes he’s never made a lot. He has become a high-volume shooter — he’ll get you 24 points but he’ll need 21 shots to do it.
This much we know — McGrady will get the chance to back up those words. Coach Mike D’Antoni says he’s going to play from day one (“we’ve only got 29 [games] left”). Maybe McGrady has changed, maybe he is willing to accept a role as not being the primary scorer on a team. Maybe he has become the veteran willing to do the right things to win a ring (although we won’t find that out with the Knicks for a while).
Maybe. But we’ll need more than words to buy in. We’ll need actions.
Utah’s Donovan Mitchell wins throwback Dunk Contest with Vince Carter tribute
The throwbacks started with Cleveland’s Larry Nance Jr. going quick-change to pay tribute to his father, the 1984 winner of the Dunk Contest.
Nance later had the best dunk of the night, but it wasn’t enough in the face of Utah’s Donovan Mitchell‘s strong and consistent night highlight by his throwback dunk — donning a Vince Carter Toronto dinosaur jersey and doing VC’s famed 360 dunk — which got Mitchell the 48 points he needed to hold-off Nance and win the contest. It was over.
“Growing up I was a big dunker,” Mitchell said. “I wasn’t really much of a basketball player. I just dunked and played defense, and I watched a lot of Vince’s videos. I’ve been seeing what he’s been doing all year at his age, which is incredible.
“So I figured, you know, at my size if I was able to get it, it would be a great dunk and a way to finish it, you know. And actually, funny story is I haven’t made that dunk in like half a year. I tried it in practice the past two days and tried it this morning, didn’t make it. Tried it last night, didn’t make it… But to be able to make it was why I was so excited.”
Earlier in the night, Mitchell had done another tribute worn a Darrell Griffith jersey — Utah’s Dr. Dunkenstien, who went to Louisville like Mitchell — for an off-the-side-of-the-backboard jumping over Kevin Hart dunk.
“You know, just knowing your history, I think, is the biggest thing,” Mitchell said of the throwbacks. “Just understanding where this game originated, I guess the OGs of the game, I guess you would call it. But just understanding. Even if it’s just dunking. Whether it’s dunking in the NBA in general, Darrell Griffith, we went to the same school in college. I know Darrell very well. Both got drafted by the Jazz, and he was an incredible player. To be able to pay homage to him meant a lot to me.”
For my money, Nance had the dunk of the night, his first in the Finals, a double off-the-backboard throwdown that you had to see on replay to get (it wasn’t as evident in the building what he had done until it was re-shown on the big screen).
It was a fun contest all night long.
Mitchell (the leader in the Rookie of the Year race) started it off brilliantly — he brought out a second backboard, and did a self-alley-oop off one to the other.
Larry Nance Jr. did his tribute to his father with his first dunk, and on his second one came from behind the backboard, going around the world, and threw it down hard. That got him into the Finals.
Oladipo missed all three of his dunks in the first round, which almost doomed his night. He, however, did a dunk wearing the Black Panther mask for his second dunk, which impressed.
Mitchell said he wanted to beat Dennis Smith Jr. because the Mavericks’ point guard had beaten him in dunk contests for years. Smith had one monster dunk, when he went between the legs and threw it down hard and got the full 50. It just wasn’t enough to get Smith to the Finals.
Nance started off the final round by bringing out his father again to throw an alley-oop to a windmill. Mitchell responded with a self-alley-oop to a windmill that was flat-out wicked. That got Mitchell a 50-46 lead after one round of the Finals.
Then Mitchell went to Vince Carter and “it was over.”
Larry Nance Jr. throws alley-oop to himself, throws alley-oop to himself (video)