Last we heard of Tracy McGrady, he was making a game-winners in China in an exhibition game. Before that, he was playing minor-league baseball.
Those seem like fun times for a player who’d announced his retirement.
McGrady, via Les Carpenter of Bleacher Report:
“The thing is, I can still go, man,” T-Mac says. He is driving from lunch to his daughter Layla’s junior high school volleyball game, but the workout is still on his mind.
“My body is still in shape. I can go. It’s about opportunity, though. … I want no limits on who I am and what I can do, not stand in the corner and shoot jump shots,” he says. “I want to be involved, that’s not saying 10 to 15 shots, I want to be involved. I don’t want to stand in the corner and shoot threes. That’s not me.”
The ideal team, T-Mac says, would be the Lakers. The Lakers are inexperienced. The Lakers need players. He could be the second star the Lakers must have to go with Bryant.
“This Kobe,” he says. “I could play with him.”
There’s some get-off-my-lawn quotes from McGrady in that article, and he obviously doesn’t hold the current generation of players high regard. That clearly fuels his belief in his ability to compete at age 35.
I believe many NBA stars have the physical talent to remain in the league long past their retirement – if they’re willing to accept lesser roles. The only bar to clear is being worse than the NBA’s worst player who wasn’t signed due to his upside.
Michael Jordan was nowhere near the NBA’s worst player when he retired at 40, but he was no longer good enough to live up to his own lofty expectations for the type of player he should be. He no longer had the fire to get into game shape once again. So, he retired. If Jordan could have mentally accepted being an eighth man, his career would have continued for years. There’s a case a 51-year-old Jordan could still deserve an NBA roster spot if he had the right mentality.
But McGrady openly doesn’t want to become a role player, and that’s why it’s hard to see his comeback getting off the ground. His skills have eroded to the point a major role is unjustifiable for a team trying to win.
That said, if there’s a place he’d fit in the NBA, it’s with the Lakers. McGrady, who worked out with Kobe before the season, clearly isn’t bothered by playing with the Lakers star. McGrady would fit right in on the Lakers’ roster of once-ballyhooed players whose stature has fallen, and he’s unlikely to jeopardize their odds of keeping their top-five protected first-round pick. Plus, he’d help sell tickets.
If that logic sounds like a stretch, it is. McGrady likely has no chance with the Lakers or any other team.
In some respects, though, McGrady has moved on. Carpenter details the former All-Star’s grand business plan:
He is going to teach athletes to take control of their money. He is going to make them understand what he has come to learn in the last four years, when the injuries piled up and the games played went down: that it is easy to grasp investing once you know the language. And once they have this knowledge, he will help to launch a revolution among players who have been told they are too dumb to ask the right questions.
He has a plan to make this happen. It was a plan designed by a friend, Rodney Woods, who first approached him about the idea a few years ago and has been pushing him to study and visit factories and meet executives ever since.
In this plan athletes and entertainers—suddenly wealthy people like himself—will learn about minority-owned manufacturers and then invest in those companies, bringing capital and jobs to the very neighborhoods where they grew up.
The plan is more complicated, of course. It will include education and support for the athletes. It will help link those small minority-owned manufacturers with big companies, connecting, say, a carpet company in Memphis to a car company in need of floor mats. It has already involved hundreds of people in its development and will bring in thousands more when it goes fully live in December.
These are big ideas, and it will be interesting to see whether McGrady succeeds in this venture. He probably has a better of that than returning to the NBA.