Tracy McGrady, otherwise known as T-Mac was not a household name in 1998.
Instead, McGrady was entering his 2nd season with The Toronto Raptors after being drafted 9th overall just one year earlier.
In his rookie season (the 1997-1998 season) Mcgrady averaged 7.0 PPG and 4.2 RPG while starting 17 of the 64 games he appeared in.
Keep in mind that McGrady is 18 years old during his rookie campaign.
Fast forward to next season when he is joined by distant cousin Vince Carter after the Raptors selected him in what would later become known as the Vince Carter draft class.
Carter immediately electrified the entire country of Canada with his highlight-reel dunks and Jordan-esque style of play.
Meanwhile, T-Mac was still just a 19 year old lanky small forward doing his best to improve.
Although McGrady wasn’t much of a 3-point shooter in Toronto, he was known as a good defender who could guard the opposing team’s top perimeter threats. McGrady’s length and athleticism allowed him to bother opposing ball handlers and even protect the rim at times.
In fact, McGrady averaged over 1 BPG and 1 SPG in 1998-1999.
As for his overall numbers during his sophomore campaign, T-Mac averaged 9.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 2.3 APG, all of which were improvements over his rookie season.
With that being said, McGrady played fewer games in 98-99 (49 total), and only started 2 games for the entire season.
In addition, his shooting percentage dropped on both 2 pointers and 3 pointers though he only attempted about 1.5 more shots per game.
Regardless of the statistical output, scouts across the league could see great potential in McGrady, even if the general NBA fanbase had not yet taken notice.
Tracy McGrady 1998-1999 Statistics
Tracy McGrady 1998 Highlights
Tracy McGrady 1998 Jersey Number
T-Mac was #1 in 1998, the same number he would become famous for in Orlando and Houston. It wasn’t until 2010 (his last games with Houston) that he switched to #3. McGrady would in some ways imitate another NBA star who wore #1: Penny Hardaway. Both players were gifted passers with a renowned “feel” for the game. Sadly, both would also succumb to chronic injuries that would shorten their respective primes and ultimately derail their careers.
Are Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter Cousins?
Yes, McGrady and Carter are step-second-cousins once-removed. Carter’s step-grandfather is the brother of McGrady’s grandmother. This was first revealed at a 1997 family reunion in Atlanta where Carter’s grandmother and McGrady were both in attendance.
What Happened to McGrady after 1998?
After the 1998-1999 season, T-Mac played one more in Toronto with his cousin Vince Carter. He improved immensely during the 99-2000 campaign and the team ended up making its first-ever postseason appearance in which they were defeated in the first round by the New York Knicks.
2000 Dunk Contest
McGrady first emerged as a household name in the 2000 dunk contest when he competed against his cousin Vince Carter along with others like Steve Francis, Jerry Stackhouse, Larry Hughes, and Ricky Davis. Though Carter was the winner and clear-cut star of the contest, McGrady made a name for himself as a viable dunker in his own right. He was also enlisted as the passer on several of Carter’s legendary dunk contest attempts during the All-Star weekend.
2000 NBA Playoffs
In what would end up as the first and only series that Carter and McGrady played as teammates, the Raptors were swept by Knicks (3-0) in a best of 5 first-round series. McGrady started all 3 games and averaged 16.7 PPG, 7.0 RPG, and 3.0 APG despite shooting below 40% from the field. The Raptors showed themselves as an up and coming team in this series despite the sweep and only lost the first 2 games by a combined total of 5 points.
Departure from Toronto
In the following offseason (2000) McGrady would leave Toronto as a free agent in a sign-and-trade deal with the Orlando Magic. The Raptors failure to retain McGrady goes down as one of the ultimate what if’s in NBA history. McGrady would go on to make 7 consecutive All-Star teams after leaving the Raptors and won a scoring title within that span.
More T-Mac FAQ
T-Mac played small forward (SF) for the majority of his career but had the size, skill, and athleticism to play any position. He was used at point guard (PG) with the Detroit Pistons in the 2010-2011 season because of his elite ball-handling skills and notable passing acumen.
T-Mac started having back spasms in the 2005-2006 season and played in only 47 games. The team failed to make the playoffs in large part due to his extended absence. Most say that McGrady was never the same player after he returned despite playing 6 more seasons.
No, T-Mac never won a ring despite being a part of the 2013 San Antonio Spurs who came within minutes of securing the title. They went on to lose Game 6 and 7 to the Miami Heat after an infamous 3-pointer by Ray Allen in the closing minute of Game 6.