http://aol.sportingnews.com/nba/story/2 ... s-jeff-van
Sean Deveney wrote:NBA Free Agents: Tracy McGrady, Baron Davis near a career crossroads
It was a little more than a year ago that former Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy delivered the quote that will be most closely associated with the career of guard Tracy McGrady. Speaking with New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell at a forum in Boston, Van Gundy said Gladwell’s assertion that in order to be truly great at something required 10,000 hours of practice did not apply to McGrady. “Tracy McGrady was 1,000 hours of practice,” Van Gundy said. “He should be a Hall of Fame player. His talent was other-worldly. He was given a great leg up in the race against other players. He’s as close as I’ve ever seen to someone with a perfect body and a good mind.”
For McGrady, though, this hasn’t been a perfect summer. The same can be said for point guard Baron Davis. The two have a lot in common.
They have both been All-Stars, McGrady seven times and Davis twice.
They are both 33 years old, much younger than the likes of Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Jason Kidd and Steve Nash, all of whom received sizable free-agent deals this offseason. But both McGrady and Davis remain unemployed, with training camp just days away.
That’s not to say we won’t see either in NBA uniforms again. Both players want to be back on the court and feel they have something to offer. McGrady was close to a deal with the Bulls last month, but the deal fell apart. He has worked out for the Knicks and Spurs this month, and was thought to be the favorite for the Knicks’ final roster spot—until, according to the New York Post’s Marc Berman, the Knicks were impressed by what Rasheed Wallace showed in a workout. Davis is recovering from knee surgery, and is not giving up on playing again.
But in the meantime, he will work for the Knicks in an off-court capacity.
With each passing day, then, there is a greater chance that we have seen the last of Davis and McGrady in the NBA, and there is something disheartening about that. In the case of both players, there was undeniable talent, and in the early part of the 2000s, they were two of the most dynamic, exciting young players in the league. Davis broke out at age 24, with 22.9 points and 7.5 assists for the Hornets.
McGrady was clearly destined for stardom as a teenager with the Raptors, and showed his greatness after signing with Orlando, where he averaged 26.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists at the tender age of 21.
But the fact that the sun is setting on them here in their early 30s, at a time when so many others are still performing at a high level as they near 40, is indicative of two careers that never quite reached their potential.
Injuries are a major factor for both guys. Davis can trace his knee troubles back to 1998, his freshman year in college, when he tore the ACL in his left knee and required surgery. He had another surgery to the left knee in ’03, and again in ’07. And during the playoffs last May, he tore his ACL and MCL in his right knee. Sprinkled throughout his career have been numerous other injuries, including back surgery last year.
The story is much the same for McGrady, who suffered chronic back pain that most likely led to knee trouble. In ’08, he had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, and the following year, he had microfracture surgery on the knee. He averaged better than 21 points per game for eight straight years, but hasn’t topped double-digits since the surgery.
Throughout their careers, though, both McGrady and Davis were dogged by suggestions that their injuries were directly related to their work ethics—that because they did not put in the 10,000 hours of practice time, their lack of conditioning was sapping their innate talent.
Davis has shrugged off that notion, saying that the persistent pain that resulted from his first knee injury in college has been an impediment to his conditioning. And McGrady, when told about Van Gundy’s criticism, told reporters, “For what Jeff says, being as talented as I was and is, for him to say that I didn’t reach my full potential because of practice habits? If that’s what he saw … I don’t have anything negative to say about that. That’s his personal opinion.”
It is an opinion, though, that is shared by many. Both Davis and McGrady entered the league with Hall of Fame potential, and played up to it for several years. They were stars, and generally likeable guys.
Now, both players are still relatively young but unsigned and already at career crossroads. Maybe it was injury, maybe it was work ethic, maybe it was a combination of the two. But when you think about how good McGrady and Davis could have been, and consider we might not see them on the floor again, it’s hard not to feel a little shortchanged.
For the record (and migya can verify this), I've been saying Tracy McGrady isn't hall-of-fame material since the mid 2000's. I always felt McGrady was simply going through the motions and didn't contribute much more than volume scoring that never translated into victories. Unfortunately, or perhaps mercifully, I never got to see Davis as the unmotivated, out of shape troll that Clippers, Hornets, and Cav's fans all pine about. BD, save for a few injuries that one might suggest were due to a lax conditioning regiment, usually appeared in tip top form as a Warrior... And during the epic 2006-'07 season, nobody could stop him between the lines.
It's really a shame Baron's career ended in a shambles. I, for one, am inclined to blame his nagging injuries moreso than his motor. That's not to say he was a model athlete who clearly gave it his all, but Davis was noticably discouraged by his string of injuries and it seems they eventually broke his will to get the monkey off his back.