Tracy Mcgrady and Vince Carter are two of the best players of their generation. Arguably neither of these players reached their full potential, nor did they manage to win an NBA championship – a measure of greatness, they firmly established themselves as Superstars in the eyes of every NBA fan who followed the league during their careers. They were both athletic wings with a penchant for the highlight play, but what else did they have in common?
Are Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter really cousins? McGrady and Carter are cousins. According to Carter’s grandmother, her father-in-law is McGrady’s grandmother’s brother, which makes Carter and McGrady second cousins. The players however did not know this when they were growing up. The link is by marriage, the father-in-law in question was actually Carter’s Step Great Grandfather. So although no blood tie exists, the bond of family can be strong.
Vince Carter and T-Mac have 15 All-Star Games between them and became household names in the league. The coincidence didn’t end there, with them both being drafted to Toronto in consecutive years!
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Carter & Mcgrady enter the NBA
Carter and Mcgrady, known as T-Mac, played together for two seasons at Toronto, after which Mcgrady went to Orlando as he felt the team fit in Toronto wasn’t best for him. Rumors swirled that he clashed with Carter. How they entered the league was a bit strange, in relation to each other.
Carter was born 26 January 1977, Mcgrady was born 2 years later on 24 May 1979. The two grew up in Florida, but knew of each other only because of their rising stars in the Basketball world. Carter attended College at North Carolina from 1995 – 1998, playing three seasons before declaring for the 1998 NBA draft. He was a highly sought after prospect and went in the Lottery. Carter was initially drafted by the Golden State Warriors with the fifth overall pick in the 1998 NBA draft. He was then immediately traded to the Toronto Raptors for the fourth overall pick, Antawn Jamison.
Mcgrady would take a different path to the NBA. Making a huge leap in his final year in high school after transferring to Mount Zion Christian Academy in Durham, North Carolina for his senior season, 1996-97. His rise to prominence and the trend at the time for NBA teams to draft talent right out of high school, meant T-Mac would enter the league a year before Vince, in 1997. He was also drafted to the Toronto Raptors, selected with the 9th pick.
So to summarize. Carter was 2 years older and generally rated more highly than Mcgrady coming into the league. But Mcgrady would decide to declare right out of high school and joined the league a year before Carter.
During Mcgrady’s final year in high school, he would often workout on the North Carolina campus. This is where he first met Carter. They became friends and the older player even allowed Mcgrady to share his locker. It wasn’t until a chance meeting at a Mcgrady family reunion that Carter’s Grandmother happened to mention the link between the two boys to Tracy that either of them found out they were related.
You can watch Carter addressing how he found out on the Up in Smoke podcast below:
How did they fare in the NBA?
Vince played 21 seasons in the NBA, predominantly for the Raptors (7) and the Nets (5). He was a high-flying, big dunking highlight reel. Many experts said he was as talented as Kobe Bryant, but never found the right situation or mentality to win at the highest level. He would never win a title.
Tracy would play 16 seasons in the NBA, predominantly for the Rockets and the Magic. He left the Raptors after just 3 years (2 with Carter alongside him). It is said that they clashed and it is very believable. While these two might seem like a brilliant pairing now, in the space and pace era. Back in the early 2000’s when giants ruled the NBA, having 2 scoring wings, may have seemed a little much and one would have to sacrifice for the other. Carter was a 6ft6 wing with a monster leap and brilliant physical game, Mcgrady was taller at 6ft8, and relied more on his skill and shooting to dominate. Think how Tatum and Brown of the Celtics would have looked back then. Unfortunately the fit didn’t work and Mcgrady chose to leave for the Magic in a sign and trade deal that netted him a 7 year $92million contract.
Carter’s career has been dubious for a variety of reasons. What is the most famous episode of the game involving Vince? His jump over Frederic Weiss during the Sydney Olympics. What did partners say about him? Keon Clark called him an overrated player and pointed to an absolutely provable fact – the Raptors in 2002 played much better without Carter in the lineup.
Vince’s only memorable run in the playoffs was a duel with Iverson in 2001 when they scored 50 points and Vince blew his chance to take the team to the next round by missing the game-winning shot at the end of the Game 7.
As the 2004-05 season progressed, a frustrated Vince played so often (belittling his own worth) that Toronto had to accept the Nets’ offers of Alonzo Mourning (who had to be bought out), Eric and Aaron Williams, and two non-draft picks. Even then, it was possible to predict that the Raptors destroyed their own future by not clearing a paycheck with this exchange, not getting worthy players or high picks in the draft. Not surprisingly, then-general manager Rob Babcock soon lost his job. But the Raptors were simply in dire straits, for it is rare for a professional athlete to show such disdain for the club and the fans.
Any questions about his legacy fell away in 2009-10 when he played for his top team (Orlando). Carter played poorly all year and didn’t even manage to get to the Eastern Conference Finals. His performance against Boston was so lackluster that multiple experts doubted whether he was able to win the title.
Vince’s career has one bright spot. Every time he played in Toronto, the fans in the stands booed him. The whistle in his direction sounded throughout the entire 48 minutes of the match. For some reason, this is what made Vince go all out. He played with passion and with his head held high, even managing to score a couple of game-winning shots against the Raptors.
This is the perfect epitaph for Vince’s career – a player who was inspired only by the hatred of the fans, and who was immensely respected by his peers. Not for what he achieved, but for what he was capable of. Of all those who have played in the league in the past fifteen years, Vince Carter was considered by his peers to be the only player capable of everything. Well, except for the ability to attach importance to basketball.
T-Mac – Similarities with Maravich
McGrady’s resume is irritatingly similar to Maravich’s, although Tracy was a better defensive player. Both were better known by their nicknames (“T-Mac” and “Pistol”). Both at their peak carried rather weak teams on their shoulders. Both had incredible offensive talents and both were incredibly respected by their peers, although McGrady was never treated with the same reverence as Maravich. Both were plagued by setbacks at a turning point in their careers – Pistol never got Julius Irving as a partner, T-Mac played with the permanently injured Grant Hill in Orlando. Both were something the league had never seen before: McGrady was a 6.8-foot guard with accurate long-range shots, and there had never been a player like Maravich in the league.
Both McGrady and Maravich were ten or twelve spots higher than they should have been, when Tracy messed up his legacy so badly during the 2008-09 season. Prior to that, a lot of people considered the possible outcome of his career and assumed that he would give a couple more seasons at a decent level, even if the words “Never won a playoff series” stick out from his resume and hurt his eyes.
McGrady returned from knee surgery in November 2009 and demanded to start. Then he whined in the press that he was only released from the bench. It took Houston three months to get rid of him. That’s the whole story.
Do T-Mac and Vince Carter Meet Frequently?
At some point, these players had a feud with each other. However, the issue was quickly resolved. The problem was connected to the spotlight and popularity Vince Carter was receiving in the Raptors, which made Tracy McGrady jealous. At some point, the latter said that he did not want to play with Vince Carter anymore. After some time, the pair managed to get along well with each other.