San Antonio Spurs

Does Tracy McGrady's End-of-Career Ring-Chasing Change His Legacy at All?

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MAY 19:  (L-R) Tracy McGrady #1 of the San Antonio Spurs and Ed Davis #32 of the Memphis Grizzlies look on during Game One of the Western Conference Finals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on May 19, 2013 in San Antonio, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Richard LeContributor IIIJune 24, 2013

Tracy McGrady has been many things during his career. However, his name has never been synonymous with winning the way players like Kobe Bryant's names are. 

With his first trip past the first round of the playoffs and into the finals, there is still question as to whether or not this playoff push has done anything positive to McGrady's underachieving legacy. 

To examine McGrady's legacy, a close inspection of Gary Payton's end-of-career title chase should be considered. 

Gary Payton was a superstar who shouldered the burden of a franchise but still couldn't quite win the championship.

While he has had much more playoff success than Tracy McGrady had, the fact of the matter is that he was an all-time great who couldn't win a title by himself. 

Joining up with Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade in Miami, Payton contributed to the Miami Heat's first NBA title and made key shots down the stretch to secure the championship.

Looking back on Payton's career, there is no doubt that he was a superstar of the highest order and should be considered one of the greatest point guards to play the game.

Although he is considered a world champion, there is no denying the asterisk that follows that title. Payton did so as a veteran role player on a team led by superstars in their prime. While he is still a world champion, he was not the main reason for the title.

On paper, Payton's resume is complete. However, the asterisk beside the world title still appears to be a blemish on his career.

Remember that Payton was playing 28.5 minutes per game in their title year and was averaging 7.7 points and 3.2 assists per game.

Even with solid numbers such as these, Payton's legacy still begs the question of whether or not he could have won the NBA title in his prime. 

Now consider McGrady, who has averaged 1.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game during these playoffs. He has garnered these numbers in six games while playing roughly five minutes per game. 

Brought in as the season wound down to replace Stephen Jackson, who was not producing up to Captain Jack standards, McGrady was almost a complete non-factor on the court.

While it is hard to measure the intangibles that he brought to practice and in the locker room, the fact remains that the Spurs could probably duplicate their postseason run without McGrady.

Although McGrady was a superstar and an All-Star for the Orlando Magic and the Houston Rockets, his career never reached the lengths of players such as Gary Payton.

He had never made it past the first round, and it was clear that he could not carry a franchise.

In fact, the defining label on his legacy is that McGrady has underachieved despite his amazing amount of talent due to injuries and perceived laziness. 

Even if the San Antonio Spurs had won the championship, that label on McGrady's legacy would not have been erased. 

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