Earlier this week, Tracy McGrady was doing his defiant Allen Iverson imitation — he needed to get touches, he needed to start wherever he was going to play next year. Question if he was a sixth man now and swear words flew out of his mouth
Then last night in Orlando, he sounded like the kind of understanding veteran that contending teams seek to be a role player, in a conversation with the Orlando Sentinel.
“Depends on what team I’m on. What team, what role i’m trying to play. Maybe I’ll go to a team where I don’t have to be. I don’t want to have to do so much. I just want to come in and be able to contribute to what I have. I don’t want to be the man that gets the ball, shoots the ball 20 something times. I don’t want that anymore.”
Would I want to (be a role player)? Whatever it takes to win. I understand I haven’t played in a while. If I go to a team that already has that chemistry, that start position, if that’s what it is. Hopefully that’s not the case. I feel I haven’t fell off that much. Whatever it takes to win. That’s what I’m all about now. Winning. I don’t care about anything else.”
It’s not a Jekyll and Hyde thing, it’s an adjustment.
Tracy McGrady is going through a hard transition for a top athlete — the recognition that he is not THE star anymore. That his body has betrayed him to the point hat he is a supporting cast member. The list of athletes who have failed to make this adjustment, is long and storied. Kareem Abdul Jabbar struggled with it. Shaq has gone through it. Iverson could not accept it.
McGrady mentally feels like the guy who can take over games. Who can dominate and get his team a win almost single-handedly. But physically, those days have passed him by, even if he is still healing and getting stonger. Acceptance of that comes in fits and starts. But maybe he is coming around. The real question is, are general managers of contending teams.
The release of NBA 2K17, the latest edition of the popular 2K video-game series, is less than a month away. Players are starting to get their likenesses in the game, as well as their player ratings, and tweet them out. Magic forward Evan Fournier wasn’t too happy with the way his came out.
Fournier’s countryman Rudy Gobert got in on the fun, too, changing his Twitter avatar to Fournier’s screenshot and encouraging others to do the same. He even created a hashtag for it.
At least they’re having fun with it.
On Friday, the Jazz traded German center Tibor Pleiss to the Sixers along with two second-round picks for Kendall Marshall. The big draw of the trade for Philly was the picks, and Pleiss is not expected to stay with the Sixers, according to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia’s Jessica Camerato.
Pleiss had a forgettable season with Utah, and the Sixers have a glut of bigs including Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. It would have been virtually impossible for Pleiss to crack the rotation, and it’s unlikely another team picks up his contract, which has $3 million guaranteed this season.
As a Jordan Brand athlete, Russell Westbrook is under the same Nike umbrella as former teammate Kevin Durant. But his latest Jordan spot, released Friday, has a very pointed tagline: “Some run, some make runways.”
Given the circumstances, it’s hard to interpret that as anything other than a reference to Durant signing with the Warriors and Westbrook signing an extension with the Thunder.
For two decades, Kobe Bryant saw everyone and everything as an obstacle to overcome: The Pacers, Sixers, Nets, Magic, Celtics, Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich, Smush Parker, a torn Achilles. It didn’t matter. Kobe’s work ethic and drive had him rising above it all.
His focus hasn’t changed now. Kobe was on the Jim Rome show, and the topic of the new-look Warriors with Kevin Durant came up, along with the “woe is me” attitude of some players (and plenty of owners and GMs).
“I would have thought less about myself if I looked at that move and said, ‘That’s unfair,'” he said. “If you’re a real competitor, you look at that and say, ‘OK, lace ’em up. Let’s go. I don’t care how many players you have over there; we’re still going to take you down.'”
Easier said than done to make that happen, but that attitude is the only one to have if you think you have a chance. You can be sure LeBron James is thinking that way and telling his Cavaliers teammates the same.
We’re going to miss Kobe.