Tracy McGrady will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
In his prime, with the Magic and Rockets, McGrady absolutely looked like a Hall of Famer. He was a dynamic scorer who could shoot 3-pointers and attack the rim, and he added plenty of complementary skills.
His case is hindered by two points: He lacked productive longevity, a 15-year career bookended by uneven play as a teenager with the Raptors and injury-limited performances with the Knicks, Pistons and Hawks in later years. And he never won a title.
McGrady, via Tom Westerholm of MassLive:
“Social media can give a lot of people voices these days, and the first thing they say is ‘No rings, no rings,'” McGrady said on Friday, in an appearance at the Hall of Fame’s 60 Days of Summer Program. “You have to have a great team and some luck to get a ring, right? Unfortunately, I wasn’t blessed with that. But I go back at them with this: Anybody can win a championship. Everybody can’t get in the Hall of Fame.”
McGrady is right. Darko Milicic, Adam Morrison, Eddy Curry and numerous lesser forgotten players have won championships. A ring devoid of context is a lesser individual accomplishment than Hall of Fame enshrinement.
But it’s not just that McGrady never won a title.
He didn’t win a single playoff series until he was playing spot minutes for the Spurs in his final season – and the Hall of Fame essentially said that didn’t count. Though McGrady still frequently posted quality individual production in the postseason and his teammates often left plenty to be desired, that lack of team success raises legitimate questions. Was McGrady mentally tough enough? Was he a good leader? Did he elevate his teammates? Could he still excel when defenses clamped down? Did he do enough things that don’t show up in the box score to contribute to winning?
I’m not so concerned about McGrady never winning a title. We should do a better job of separating individual success from team success, and too much of winning a championship escapes a player’s control.
But winning a single playoff-series victory as a rotation player? That’s a far lower bar, and McGrady’s failure to do so is more of a red flag.