Tonight, Tracy McGrady is going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. He is only the twelfth Rocket to be inducted and he marks three straight years where a Rocket is going into the Hall. 2015 was Dikembe Mutombo’s year, 2016 was Yao Ming’s year, and this year, McGrady is a first-ballot, without a doubt, Hall of Famer.
T-Mac played for seven NBA teams, but his longest tenure was with Houston from 2004 until 2010. To celebrate his induction, we are going to count down the three best moments in T-Mac’s Houston career.
3. McGrady lights it up during streak
A lot of T-Mac’s career in Houston was defined by injuries, but in the second half of the 2007-08 season, he found himself healthy and he did not take the opportunity for granted. He carried a blossoming Houston team on his back and lead them to twenty-two straight victories.
During this streak, his partner in crime Yao Ming went down with an injury, but that only improved McGrady’s game.
His best game in the streak came in a win versus the New Orleans Hornets. McGrady scored 41 in the victory and made 17 of his twenty-seven shots.
McGrady often cites being a part of the 2008 Rockets as one of his greatest accomplishments in his career and claiming it is one of the most impressive feats in his career. Winning 22 games is something only a select few teams have done, and without McGrady, the Rockets do not come close to accomplishing the streak.
2. T-Mac’s Posterization of Shawn Bradley
McGrady’s playoff record with Houston is not the best by any means, but during Houston’s first postseason run with McGrady on the team, he had one of his best moments in his career. Dunking over Shawn Bradley is an image that Rockets fans will have etched in their minds forever.
When this happened, jaws hit the floor. People were not actually sure if T-Mac had done what he actually did. Yes, he did just dunk over the tallest player in the NBA.
What is even more bizarre is that this was during a playoff game. McGrady’s dunk over Bradley got him two of his twenty-eight points that would lead to a Houston Rockets win. Though they would lose the series in seven games, this was the first taste that Rockets fans would get with McGrady donning a Rockets uniform.
While he only got past the first round once in 2009 (while he was injured), he certainly gave some stunning playoff moments that are hard to forget.
1. 13 Points in 35 Seconds
When you think of Tracy McGrady, this is the moment that pops up. Rockets fans remember where they were when this happened. It is perhaps the most iconic Rockets moment outside of the two championship victories and possibly the most improbable comeback in NBA history.
Just weeks into his Rockets career, the Rockets were stumbling out of the gate with an 9-10 record facing the San Antonio Spurs at home. Now, the Spurs were in their heyday, having won the Finals in 2003. (They would also go on to win the Finals later on this season, but that is not super important in terms of this story.)
If you are a younger Rockets fan who may not have been alive or too young to remember this moment, here is a clip to remind you of T-Mac’s greatness.
Before this ridiculousness occurred, the score was 74-64 with less than a minute in the fourth quarter, which is likely a score you might see right before halftime with a current Rockets team.
Then, you blink your eyes, and the Rockets win 81-80. Watch the clip to find out why. I always stumble upon 13 in 35 videos once in a while and I am still in awe as to how it happened. This moment made me become a basketball fan. As a six year-old kid, watching T-Mac do this against the Spurs looked like Batman defeating the Joker or Superman beating Lex Luthor.
I saw McGrady as this superhero, as someone who came to save the day against the big, bad Spurs. He took his team on his back and carried them to victory that night.
After that night, McGrady lead the team to a 42-20 record to end the season. Fifty wins for the Rockets was a foreign concept before McGrady came in. Their last 50+ win season came eight years prior when the Rockets lost in the Conference Finals to the Utah Jazz in 1997.
McGrady lifted the team into a new era and he defined Rockets basketball during the 2000’s. For five-and-a-half seasons, he was the face of Houston’s franchise. He was an incredible player to watch night in and night out and he had the whole basketball world watching every night.
In a league shadowed by Kobe Bryant and LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal, he was flashy in a subtle way. He was quiet, came to work every day, as much as he could, and gave everything he could. Nothing more you could want from a player. It’s a major reason why he is one of the most beloved Rockets of all time and why he is a huge part to the history and game of basketball.
Welcome to the Hall, Tracy McGrady.