Tracy McGrady’s playoff career can be summed up in one word: disappointing.
He is notorious throughout the NBA for having never won a playoff series. For a player who is a seven-time All-Star and a two-time scoring champ, that stat is rather embarrassing.
McGrady’s Houston Rockets are one win away from advancing in the playoffs for the first time since joining the Rockets in 2004. They lead their series against the Blazers 3-2 with Game 6 at the Toyota Center in Houston tonight. So it looks like Tracy McGrady has a good chance of ending this terrible streak of seven consecutive first-round eliminations, right? But wait, there’s one problem...
McGrady isn’t playing!
His season ended on February 24 when he decided to undergo microfracture surgery to repair his knee. So if you’re McGrady right now, do you consider your dreadful streak to be over if the Rockets win, even though you didn’t participate in the series?
Or are you, in the back of your mind, hoping that the Rockets lose? That way, you avoid speculation as to why the Rockets could only win a playoff series when you didn’t play.
McGrady’s playoff career started in 2000 with the Toronto Raptors. He was not considered to be the leader of that Raptors team. That role belonged to his cousin, Vince Carter. So when the 6th-seeded Raptors were swept by the Knicks in the first round, little blame was placed on McGrady.
After that season, McGrady was a free agent and went to the Orlando Magic as part of a sign-and-trade deal. In the 2001 playoffs, McGrady and Orlando entered as the 7-seed, matched up against Milwaukee. That year, T-Mac was eliminated from the first round of the playoffs in four games (first-round series were best-of-five, not best-of-seven like they are now).
The next two seasons, McGrady and the Magic made the postseason and were eliminated in the first round. That included 2003, when the 8th-seeded Magic took a 3-1 series lead on the Detroit Pistons, but lost the final three games and were eliminated.
After forcing a trade to the Rockets following the 2003-04 season, McGrady had made the playoffs with Houston three times coming into this season. But it only led to three disappointments.
That brings us to this year: the 2009 NBA Playoffs. I realize that McGrady helped the Rockets get to where they are now with his play in the regular season. But it still looks bad if all of his teams fail to win a playoff series until he doesn’t play in it.
On the other hand, if the Rockets manage to choke this series away, McGrady’s streak technically increases to eight playoff appearances without a series win.
It’s a lose-lose situation as far as McGrady’s legacy is concerned. But McGrady does want his Rockets to win this series, and hopefully the NBA title. He has kept an extremely positive attitude towards his team ever since his season-ending surgery and will continue to do so as long as the Rockets continue their playoff run.