McGrady, who spent the early 2000s doing the best Kobe Bryant impression that nobody remembers, is now a bench ornament in San Antonio after playing most of this past season in China. For the former superstar, a chance to get a ring—albeit as a glorified towel boy—was just too much to pass up.
He told Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports: "It’s good to be experiencing this before I leave the game, although it’s not under the circumstances I would like. I’ve been enjoying it."
Remember, this is a guy who averaged more than 25 points per game for five seasons in a row and made a pair of All-NBA First Teams. Even more impressively, McGrady posted a PER of 30.27 in the 2002-03 regular season. Only six other players—Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, David Robinson, Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal—have ever had a higher rating in a single season.
T-Mac was truly one of the NBA's elite talents, so it's not easy for him to ride the pine toward a ring. But hey, it beats the alternative of sitting at home.
Of course, if the Spurs do manage to knock off the Miami Heat en route to another title, McGrady has dropped hints that he'll hang up his sneakers. And that's a real shame, because it's already hard enough to find vintage adidas T-Mac III's on eBay.
McGrady told Spears:
If this team was the last team standing, who knows how I would feel about playing basketball again? To be on a championship team and to win a championship … if that was to happen, I don’t see any other reason for me to come back. I feel that I got a lot of game left, but I can’t come back and settle.
Don't worry, though; he's got career options after basketball.
For anyone who loved McGrady in his prime, it's bittersweet to watch him chase a title this way. Most of us would prefer to remember him like this:
But because those days are gone and McGrady's career may be coming to an end, it's nice to see him get a taste of success. Better late than never, T-Mac.