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Sep 22

No Doubt-Sports Talk With Anthony Bonelli And Dan Valleau And More

When a basketball goes through a net, it makes an unmistakable sound. The sound can make the shooter of the basketball feel many emotions: excitement, joy, and a feeling of accomplishment. When a player enters the NBA, he can experience those same emotions while at times experiencing a feeling of doubt, wondering whether he belongs in a league with some of the greatest players to ever play the game. Tracy McGrady experienced all those emotions during his basketball career. When he received a call from the President and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, located in Springfield, Massachusetts, John Doleva, informing him that he was a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2017, he felt vindicated. In 1996, McGrady was invited to an Adidas Basketball Camp in Teaneck, New Jersey. He was the last player invited to the camp, by his own admission, it took some ""favors"" for him to be invited. When the camp began he was given the last jersey number, #175. By the conclusion of the camp, he was rated the #1 high school basketball player in the nation. McGrady has a theory on how players become elite, which he explained at the Class of 2017 Press Conference, ""If you take the guys, you take myself that have reached elite status, and never played a game of basketball before, never played it. And you take somebody that plays the game every single day they practice hours tireless you take them. And then you take myself that never played basketball before, and you put me out there with those guys and we play right, I never played basketball before, but I am able to hold my own with the guys that have been playing the game every day and working on the game every day because they peaked out already. So, if they peaked out already, and I haven’t played a day of basketball in my life, and you put me out there, and I am able to hold my own, then I have so much growth to go to surpass them, and that is what that is, it’s just God given talent."" He continued, ""I was like a duck, my feet were always moving, but no one ever saw that. No one ever saw me in the gym after practice working. That is how I went from #175 to #1: work."" This would not be the last time McGrady would have to prove his ability to others as well as himself. McGrady was one of the first players to enter the NBA draft after his high school career was complete. The Toronto Raptors selected McGrady with the ninth pick in the 1997 draft. During his rookie year, McGrady was told by the Raptors Head Coach that he would not make it three years in the league. That coach was fired halfway through the 1997 season. It is a rare occurrence when a team decides to relieve a head coach of his duties in the middle of a season. When someone doubts a player’s talent, that player sometimes uses that criticism to motivate him to become a better player. McGrady seems to be the type of person to do that exact thing. On August 3, 2000, the Toronto Raptors signed- and- trade McGrady to the Orlando Magic. During his tenure with the Magic, McGrady average 28.1 points per game while dazzling NBA fans with his ability to score in different ways. Still, McGrady’s ability to lead a team to a championship was doubted, since Orlando never made it past the first round of the playoffs. Something people may not remember is, on the same day that the Magic acquired McGrady, the Detroit Pistons signed Grant Hill to a seven-year $92.8 million contract. The Pistons then traded Hill to the Magic. Hill however, only played in 47 games over a three-year period while the two were teammates, due to an ankle injury. When an all-star caliber player is unable to play, it makes it difficult for a team to achieve their goal of winning a championship. The Houston Rockets acquired the two- time scoring champion in 2004. Houston was hoping McGrady and fellow Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member Yao Ming would lift the Rockets to a championship. Unfortunately, during their time in the ""Magnolia City"" the Hall of Fame duo dealt with several injuries which limited their court time together. In 2005, McGrady was hampered by back spasms, which then became an ongoing issue for the All-Star. Back spasms forced McGrady to miss seven games in the beginning of the 2006 season. When McGrady returned, he admitted that he was not the same player, because the pain in his back slowed him down. Later in the year, Ming suffered a season-ending leg injury. Without Ming, McGrady average 24.6 points per game, a career-high, 6.5 assists, and 5.3 rebounds. Even though the championship expectations for Houston were not met, McGrady provided NBA fans with what some may call, the most memorable moment of his career. On December 9, 2004, Houston was playing one of their in-state rivals, the San Antonio Spurs, at home. Houston was trailing San Antonio by 10 with just 49 seconds remaining in regulation. People doubted whether Houston would be able to overcome this deficit with such little time remaining. Legendary Turner Sports Play-By-Play Announcer Marv Albert, said on the television broadcast, ""The Rockets will drop to 8-12,"" as the camera showed Houston’s dejected bench. McGrady then proceeded to score 13 points in 35 seconds to single-handedly improve Houston’s record to 9-11. This improbable barrage of points was highlighted by four three-pointers, the last one was the game-winning shot as time expired, and a rare four-point play. No one doubted McGrady’s talent that night. The 13- year veteran’s Houston tenure ended when he was traded to the New York Knicks in the middle of the 2010 season. During the last three years of his career McGrady spent time with the Knicks, the Detroit Pistons, the Atlanta Hawks, and the San Antonio Spurs. While McGrady was wearing a San Antonio Spurs jersey the Spurs made it to the NBA Finals, but they were unable to raise the Larry O’Brien trophy, losing to the Miami Heat. The Mount Zion Christian Academy alumnus still possessed a competitive nature inside of him during his final years playing in every NBA arena, however physically he was limited due to persisting back, knee, and elbow injuries which he suffered earlier in his illustrious career. The player who was once told he would not make it three years in the NBA began his Hall of Fame Speech with a story. McGrady and his wife Clerenda were in New Orleans during NBA All-Star Weekend in February, where the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Finalists were announced at a press conference. The couple was in an elevator, they were on their way to the press conference. While in the elevator, Clerenda was telling Tracy how proud she was of him. Tracy did not acknowledge his wife’s praise. A wife can sense how her husband is feeling by his actions. Sensing that her husband was experiencing a feeling of doubt, she demanded that her husband repeat after her, ""I deserve to be in the Hall of Fame."" The 6’8"" basketball star did not utter a single word. Insistent, McGrady’s wife implored him to look in the mirror that was on the elevator wall and say the words, ""I deserve to be in the Hall of Fame."" Still, Tracy could not say the phrase. McGrady finally succumbed to his wife’s peer pressure saying in the final sentence of his Hall of Fame Speech seven months later, ""I deserve to be here. I am truly humbled, grateful, and proud to be in the Class of 2017."" Tracy Lamar McGrady, there is No Doubt you are a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

2 comments

  1. Beth Fortenberry

    Great story! I was there and you told it well! Even brought a tear to my eye!

  2. Bob Magnuson

    Anthony…

    Another nice effort. The power to believe in yourself is always going to yield strong results!!

    bob

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