The Rockets will get a look at the equivalent of their ex-wife today, as they head to New York to take on the Knicks and Tracy McGrady.
In the divorce, McGrady got the money and a new mate. The Rockets got a chance to start over.
Roughly a month after the deal, the parties are still reliving the breakup.
David Barron caught up with McGrady and wrote a very nice piece in front of today’s game.
Other than the intrigue, the game itself doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. The Rockets are all but dead in the playoff race, and the Knicks have been done since the opening tip of the first game.
McGrady has energized the New York fan base with his name, not so much his play.
McGrady says it’s just another game against a former team, but that’s hard to believe. He also intimated again that the Rockets threw him under the bus and didn’t protect him from the media.
If he really thinks the Houston media was tough on him, wait until the honeymoon wears off in New York.
Still, his bitterness at the Rockets is misguided. He was well compensated, and they passed up several better deals in recent years hoping he could get them over the top. They stuck with him long after a lot of teams would have done anything to get him off the books. It was only at the end where they finally decided to move on.
The reality is the Rockets and McGrady had a nice run. It was never quite what either wanted, but it wasn’t really anyone’s fault. McGrady and Yao Ming were both injury prone, and they never got a chance to make the run the Rockets hoped for. Like a lot of divorces, the relationship just eroded over time.
McGrady is not a bad guy. Neither are the Rockets. Sometimes, things just have to end.
And the McGrady you will see today is not the player he was in his prime.
He is a long way from being 100 percent, and the simple truth at his age is he is unlikely to ever be a superstar again. He won’t likely be over the microfracture surgery until next season, and by then it’s hard to expect him to have the same explosiveness he did when he was at his best.
It’s a hard thing when players of that caliber can’t do it anymore. Allen Iverson. Ladanian Tomlinson in football. Fans want to see that flash they once brought. They hope for one last run, one more shot at glory. We think of them as what they were, not what they are.
Today, hopefully McGrady will show that flash. Maybe he will have a 20-point game. Maybe there will be some of the drives to the basket, the flashes of brilliance. Maybe he will look like the T-Mac of old.
If so, enjoy it. There are probably not many of those nights left.
It’s a shame the McGrady-Rockets divorce had to be bitter. But most breakups are.
The Rockets moved on a long time ago. Maybe after today, McGrady will as well.