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On June 25th of 1997, the (tanking) San Antonio Spurs won the Tim Duncan sweepstakes and selected the future great that teased lottery drafts for years by staying in college for 4 years. 8 picks later, the Toronto Raptors selected future great Tracy McGrady who just spent his last 4 years in high school.
Duncan found success in the league immediately while some felt T-Mac was on his way out of the league before he was even a name in it, but during the free agency frenzy of the summer of 2000, the two almost teamed up to form a Big 3 with Grant Hill in Orlando. Duncan ended up re-signing with San Antonio and Tracy McGrady became the Magic’s franchise player, post Penny, who also wore #1, and a star in the league.
The next few years would see the two 97 draft vets dominate leader boards and pick up individual awards and accolades but Duncan was also picking up team awards in the form of NBA championships while McGrady’s postseasons always ended in the 1st round.
Flashforward to April 16th 2013 when Duncan’s Spurs picked up free agent Tracy McGrady, who just spent a season over in China, right before the playoffs. A sweep of the Lakers, 2 extra games for the Steph Curry show, another sweep for the Grizzlies and then a heartbreaking Finals loss to the Miami Heat.
After 32,368 minutes, 19,490 points, 5,549 rebounds, 4,405 assists, 986 games and 8 1st round playoff exits, T-Mac made it to the NBA finals and was just seconds away from a championship ring until a team collapse and then another loss to the back-to-back champions.
T-Mac then went back to China to play with the Ballup Streetball crew and Gilbert Arenas for a few exhibition games but today on ESPN First Take, T-Mac made if official that he is retiring from the NBA. He’s not ruling out playing pro ball overseas again but his days of chasing that NBA Championship is sadly over.
Let’s take a look at his joyous journey.
Bonus: Odd TMac tribute video and graphic I made about a decade ago