As he prepares to enter the Hall of Fame, let’s take a look back at Tracy McGrady’s brief stint with the New York Knicks.
The date of Feb. 19, 2010 will probably never ring a bell in the minds for many New York Knicks fans. It would be the day New York acquired future member of the 2017 Hall of Fame class, Tracy McGrady, in a surprising three-team trade with the Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings.
At the time, McGrady was battling knee issues that plagued him during his last season with Houston, eventually causing a rift between him and team management. McGrady was feeling left out of more plays and given less time on the court due to his deteriorating knee issues, pushing him to request a trade. New York at this time was fighting for the eighth playoff spot in the East and needed some temporary firepower and a spark to get the fanbase motivated.
The Knicks acquired McGrady and guard Sergio Rodriguez from Sacramento; the Rockets got Kevin Martin and Hilton Armstrong from Sacramento along with Knicks rookie Jordan Hill and Jared Jeffries. The deal cost New York two draft picks from 2011 and 2012 in the process of gaining salary cap relief, as McGrady became a free agent after the season — giving the team a bonus of millions in spending money that summer.
The first opportunity in a Knicks uniform would come in a classic matchup with the young and hungry Oklahoma City Thunder squad led by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. McGrady had the entire arena at Madison Square Garden on their feet as he caught fire through most of the game until fatigue set in late. McGrady poured in 26 points on 10-of-17 shooting in 32 minutes as the Knicks came up short in his debut.
After the game, McGrady spoke openly about his debut with reporters and detailed what would turn out to be a continuous issue regarding his knees and it’s effect on his conditioning.
"“I didn’t have any legs at all, and I felt like why should I be out there if I’m hurting my team? It wasn’t the right thing to do. I didn’t want to be a hero in my first game back.“I hadn’t felt that good in a while, and to hear those chants [the first “We want Tra-cy” chant occurred with 8 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter] really sent chills down my spine,” McGrady said. “It felt foreign when I first stepped out there. I had the jitters.”"
The Tracy McGrady experiment didn’t lead to a playoff berth for the 2010 Knicks, but there were sporadic moments of greatness from the two-time scoring champion. Due to health issues, McGrady couldn’t play in back-to-backs and only ended up starting in 24 games for the Knicks, averaging just nine points per contest. He expressed interest in returning after the season, but eventually moved on to the Detroit Pistons in free agency.
It may not have played out the way many Knicks fans envisioned but it’s fair to say the Knicks are sporting a member of this year’s Hall of Fame class. I wonder if McGrady agrees with the slogan “Once A Knick, Always A Knick.”