Every basketball fan has at least one “What if?” player. The NBA is the premier collection of the world’s best basketball talent, but not every player is remembered as a superstar; many are remembered as “what if?” players. “What if such-and-such took his game more seriously?” “What if such-and-such wasn’t involved in off-the-court issues?” And the most common yet, the most painful one, “What if such-and-such didn’t get all those injuries?” Fans recognize talent, even despite injuries, and that alone deserves iconic status for many players who have had their time in the league cut short.
What is the 26th most iconic jersey of all time? SLAM Magazine released a list, in collaboration with jersey reproduction manufacturer Mitchell and Ness, called the “Top 75 Greatest Jerseys of All Time.” In this list, the 2000-2001 Tracy McGrady Orlando Magic away jersey takes the #25 spot, to reflect its place on Mitchell and Ness’ best-selling jerseys list. The jersey has a blue base, with dark blue stars as a background pattern. The side panels are black with vertical white pinstripes, and the “Magic” lettering (the “a” and the dot in “i” are replaced by white stars) and numbers are white with black outlines. The collar and armpit trim are also black and white.
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Why is Tracy McGrady iconic?
Tracy McGrady was drafted by the Toronto Raptors in the 1997 NBA Draft with the 9th overall pick. Coming straight out of high school, McGrady played limited minutes before growing into a strong bench player. After playing alongside his cousin and good friend Vince Carter, T-Mac signed with the Orlando Magic in free agency in 2000. McGrady not only became a starter, but the focal point of the Magic offense. He cemented himself as a superstar in the league, but was traded to the Houston Rockets before the 2004-2005 season. McGrady continued to perform excellently, including a legendary performance where he scored 13 points in the final 35 seconds of a game to lead the Rockets to a comeback win over rivals San Antonio Spurs. But injuries persistently nagged him, and ultimately derailed him from playing to the expectations he had set for himself. After being traded to the New York Knicks in 2010, McGrady bounced around the league, with short stints with the Detroit Pistons, the Atlanta Hawks, and the San Antonio Spurs, before retiring in 2013.
McGrady’s star status in the league was reflected with 7 All-Star Game appearances, 7 All-NBA Team selections (2x First Team, 3x Second Team, and 2x Third Team), 2x NBA scoring titles, and the 2001 Most Improved Player of the Year award, earning himself a place in the Hall of Fame. His career averages include 19.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game. While his list of accolades are relatively short compared to all-time greats, his impact on the game was on a “see it to believe it” type of level. McGrady was an exceptional scorer of the basketball, from anywhere on the court. In his younger days, he was an explosive athlete, finishing at the rim with style, but in his prime and latter end of his career, he had a laid back but deadly demeanor, putting up points from wherever he felt like. But McGrady’s success was limited to individual accolades, as he never saw any postseason success, infamously remembered for being a perennial first-round exit. A combination of injuries and weak supporting casts never saw McGrady reach the heights of his peers, although many thought he had the highest ceiling of any guard since Michael Jordan.
Why is the 2000-2001 Tracy McGrady Orlando Magic away jersey iconic?
The 2000-2001 season was when McGrady shot to stardom. He was mostly the first option off the bench in Toronto, but McGrady was thrust into the starting 5 for Orlando as the season started. McGrady claimed the role as his own quickly, and averaged 26.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game. He got voted for his first All-Star Game and was also selected for the All-NBA Second Team. His improvement was aptly awarded with the 2001 Most Improved Player of the Year award. His 2000-2001 Orlando Magic away jersey will be remembered as iconic for putting the league on notice, in an era full of talented guards.
Why is the 2000-2001 Orlando Magic away jersey iconic?
The 2000-2001 Orlando Magic away jersey has a blue base, with dark blue stars interconnecting to serve as the background pattern. The side panels are black and feature vertical white pinstripes. The “Magic” lettering (the “a” and the dot in “i” are replaced by white stars) and numbers are white with black outlines. The collar and armpit trim are also black and white.
The Orlando Magic had believed that they had retooled their roster to once again become contenders. After having lost their dynamic duo of drafted stars, Shaquille O’Neal and later Penny Hardaway, a few seasons earlier, the Magic had turned to free agency. There, they picked up a star in Grant Hill, and a potential star in Tracy McGrady. McGrady panned out for them, while Hill didn’t, and they also got their 5th overall pick, Mike Miller, into the Rookie of the Year. The Magic posteda 43-39 record and grabbed the 7th seed in the playoffs, but were bounced out by the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round.
The world did get to see Tracy McGrady play at the highest level for a short time, but arguably his whole prime with the Houston Rockets was disrupted by nagging injuries. NBA players have consistently named McGrady as one of the best scorers in the game, and the toughest player they have ever had to guard. But he never managed to make it past the first round of the playoffs throughout his career. McGrady ranks towards the top of the list of players with interrupted primes, but if one wants to see what he was truly capable of, should look back to his 2000-2001 season with the Orlando Magic. Just like the 2000-2001 Orlando Magic away jersey, McGrady showed that he had stars written all over him.