A few years ago, during a game in Boston, a long rebound bounced out of bounds almost directly to me.
Tracy McGrady was the closest to it on the court, but had no chance to get it. I had a great angle and knew no one could have kept that ball from going out of bounds.
McGrady saw it the same way, turned and walked slowly back the other way. It looked awful. He wasn't wrong. He cost his team nothing. But it looked awful.
That's the way it is with McGrady. Sometimes even when you are right, you are wrong. When you think of the things he says but shouldn't -- talking about teammates that can't shoot, reasons the Rockets lose - he often is right, even if he was wrong to say them.
On Wednesday, he talked about when he might be back with the Rockets, saying his sore left knee would probably keep him out for a week. And he made this prediction with a la-di-da wording that seemed incredibly casual with the Rockets season on the brink. But the impression I get around the Rockets is that he is right, that he probably will need some time to rest the knee or face a long, long stretch of relatively mediocre play while dragging his left leg around behind him.
"Right now, I'm saying a week to see how I feel," McGrady said. "Come in here, get a couple practices, get up and down the court. Don't want to rush it because we don't want the same thing to happen again. We'll see."
He just about said "oh well." But what someone says is not as important as what they do and the sense around the Rockets is that if he sits out the better part of a week he will be doing the right thing.
Perhaps that's why he polarizes opinion so.
That begins of course with the Rockets being such a disappointment. Whether losing Game 7 or reaching this point of the season at 13-15, the Rockets have fallen far short of expectations.
Those that wish to blame someone (having moved on, for the most part, from Rafer Alston) will naturally blame McGrady. When you are a franchise player, that's fair. It is on him. But beyond that, he seems to divide opinion because he so infuriates some with his manner. Others could care less what he says or what ｅxpression he wears on his face. Some want to see the stars' passion.
His comments typically don't rankle me at all. Reporters generally like it when players are consistently frank, but I don't think I would care if I were a fan, either. I can understand why they bother others, but they don't irritate me. Neither does his ｅxpression when he plays.
The greater issue is that he is a fine player that could be and should be better, a shortcoming which some will consider unforgivable.
Personally, I think most of the criticism of McGrady comes from the same thing that defines much of his career: he has never won a playoff series. The disappointment that brings to those with an emotional stake in those series breeds an increasing antipathy the following season.
For now, however, he is likely to be out for the next few games. He said a week. Figure on him missing two to four games. Some will say he should play, that he is not that hurt. It is not clear how they would know that unless they snuck a peak at the MRI. But the Rockets' brass believes that he has an injury, he did play on it, that didn't work and now he needs rest.
McGrady was probably right with his comments on Wednesday and with his plan to rest the knee. But he made it sound wrong again.
Posted by Jonathan Feigen at December 26, 2007 10:51 PM