NEW ORLEANS — Tracy McGrady was one of the great scorers the NBA has ever seen. There was once a time when the debate was “McGrady or Kobe,” he was that good and went on to be a two-time NBA scoring champion, an All-NBA player multiple times, and a seven-time All-Star.
And now he’s on the cusp of being in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
“This isn’t a dream come true because when I was a kid I didn’t even know what the Hall was,” McGrady said.
McGrady was one of the Hall finalists announced on Saturday in an event surrounding the NBA All-Star Game. He, Tim Hardaway and Chris Webber headline the North American class for the Hall. Who will be voted in gets announced at the NCAA Final Four in April.
Also, legendary TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager and the New York Time’s Henry Araton will be honored with the Hall’s Curt Gowdy Media Award.
During his playing days, McGrady knew how to put on a show.
But the Hall announcement humbled a man not exactly known for that side of his personality.
“This is so surreal, I’m only 37 years old, I’m not old,” McGrady said. “For me to be up for this, I still, can’t fathom it.
“This is unbelievable, and I was truly shocked… on our show (ESPN’s The Jump) Rachel (Nichols) told me the news, I was extremely shocked about it. Seriously. I didn’t think I was eligible at the time, and here I am as a finalist. I’m nervous about what’s to come.”
Joining him near the top of the class was the crossover king Tim Hardaway — the other two-thirds of the Warriors Run TMC — Chris Mullin and Mitch Richmond — are already in the Hall. Hardaway is a favorite to join them, and his influence is still felt in the game today.
“One of my favorites was Tim Hardaway,” All-Star Kemba Walker said this weekend when asked who he watched and idolized as a youth. “Another small guard, and I just loved the way he played. There’s a lot of similarities in our game.”
Here are the other nominees.
• Chris Webber, the former Michigan standout who was part of the best Kings teams in that franchise’s history. Webber was an NBA Rookie of the Year, a four-time All-NBA player, and he averaged at least 20 points a game for nine consecutive seasons.
• Sydney Moncrief, the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, an All-NBA player, and a five-time All-Star known then as what would now be called a two-way player.
“I grew up under Eddie Sutton, where if you didn’t play defense you didn’t play. Then I played under Don Nelson, where if you didn’t play offense you didn’t play,” Moncrief said. “So I guess I had some good teachers.”
• Rudy Tomjanavich, the former Rockets coach who also coach USA to gold in 2000.
• Rebecca Lobo, college national champion, gold medalist, and one of the first stars in the WNBA.
• Hugh Evans, who spent 28 seasons as a referee and officiated more than 2,000 NBA games, then served as the Supervisor of Officials for the league.
• Bill Self, the Kansas coach who won a national championship with that program in 2008.
• Bo Ryan, the Wisconsin coach who won four Division III national titles before turning Wisconsin into a powerhouse.
• Rollie Massimino, the legendary college coach who led Villanova past Georgetown to a national title in 1985 and well as four other Final Four appearances.
• Robert Hughes, a legendary high school coach from Texas who won 1,333 games over 47 seasons.
• Muffett McGraw, the coach of Notre Dame’s national powerhouse women’s team.
• Kim Mulkey, the Baylor women’s coach who led that program to two national titles.
• The Wayland Baptist University women’s team from the 1950s that was a groundbreaking program for the women’s game.