Tracy McGrady came off the bench for the Atlanta Hawks this season averaging 5.2 ppg, meaning he’s pretty much an irrelevant player to the majority of our audience today. However, let’s rewind about 9 years and the same Tracy McGrady was a max contract franchise player with a lifetime shoe deal with adidas and leading the NBA in scoring at 32.1 PPG. Many argued he was the best player in the league with potential to be a once in a generation type player, and with his 6’8″ frame, elite athleticism and skill-set the idea wasn’t too farteched.
Let’s travel out west to a place known as LA LA land and if you weren’t arguing in favor of McGrady being the best player in the league it was because you believed this man was. The man of course is none other than the best player of the post-Jordan era, Kobe Bryant. It’s easy to mock this topic now knowing how both careers turned out, but think 2003. Kobe only had 3 championships that he “won cause of Shaq,” no MVP, no 81 point game, none of the things that have put him in the conversation for top 5 player. Ever.
Kobe Bryant vs Tracy McGrady, the great debate. Every time they went head to head it was always one of the most exciting match-ups of the NBA season. Both at their athletic peak, both always ended up with similar stats and always took turns guarding each other.
Here’s the famous game from 2003 when both of them went on to score 38 a piece. The Magic won this one 112-102.
Another game from 2004 where both scored 38. Tracy McGrady started off hot in the first half scoring 21 points, Kobe finished the first with 1 point. The Magic were up by as much as 19 points at one point and T-mac started out strong until Kobe took the challenge of guarding him. Kobe went on to score 37 points in the 2nd half and led the Lakers comeback to beat the Magic.
The debate was never ending. T-mac fans argued T-mac was a superior scorer to Kobe because of his length and shooting stroke, Kobe fans argued that Kobe was the best all around player in the NBA and a far superior defender. Unfortunatley McGrady’s career was plagued by serious injuries and he was never able to return to being the player he once was. All we are left with is what could’ve been and what if’s. Kobe on the other hand has gone on to have one of the most remarkable careers in the history of the game and even surpassing the global popularity of Michael Jordan.
So. What’s your take? 2003 Kobe or 2003 T-mac and why?