Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Get McGrady Out of Here
No one has made more excuses for Tracy McGrady over the years than me. When he was traded to Houston in 2004, everyone here was elated. We had our superduperstar.
Sure, everyone loved Steve Francis, but was he going to lead us to a championship? No. Was he even going to average 20 ppg again under Jeff Van Gundy? Hell no.
McGrady was the guy we had been begging for, the star that was going to galvanize the team and take it back to that elite status we had been struggling to re-attain.
In the first round of the 2005 playoffs, it was confirmed that T-Mac was that dude, and all he needed was a change of scenery to Clutch City to prove it. The Rockets took the first two games of the series in Dallas and seemed poised to sweep the Mavs. Of course, Houston lost four of the next five games and got blew out by 40 in Game Seven in D-Town as it seemed McGrady had checked out of the series after Game Three, just as he had done two years before after his Orlando Magic got up on the Detroit Pistons, 3-1.
What did we say after another Rockets flameout? He needed better role players, Yao needed to step up, Coach Van Gundy needed to open up the offense. All these things were true, but they weren't the only things wrong.
The same things were said after last season's choke job against the Jazz, who the Rockets had up, you guessed it, 2-0 before getting ransacked in Utah in games 3 and 4. We need a point guard, a better power forward, higher scoring.
We forgot something again; the Houston Rockets need a leader, and you sir, Mr. McGrady, are no leader.
I had always thought in the back of my mind (and in conversations with friends) that Mac was not and never going to be the dominant player in pressure moments to lift the Rockets, or any team he plays for, to the next level. He's not aggressive enough, not tough enough, and as Monday's game (and his tenure in Orlando) proved, when the going gets tough, Tracy McGrady usually quits. Or he "sprains an ankle" and heads to the locker room.
And he has always done these things. In game seven against the Mavs, he quit so fast after it seemed things weren't going his way, and his teammates followed suit. In game seven against the Jazz, he absolutely refused to drive to the basket in the final two minutes, deferring to his less talented teammates who weren't equipped to do anything except take long contested jump shots. When Philly was driving us into the ground on Monday, he became Michael Redd.
We have no leader, whatsoever. So what do we do? Go get one. Daryl Morey, call up Jerry Buss, get us a real man. But with #23 and #24 retired, what number will Kobe wear in Houston?