Punching Everything! Tracy McGrady: Top 10 Orlando Magic Plays
Orlando Magic (2000–2004)
After the 2000 Playoffs, McGrady became a free agent, signing a six-year, $67.5 million contract with the Orlando Magic. He elected to join the Magic in part because he disliked his secondary role playing behind Vince Carter, in part so that he could return home to Florida, and in part to play with their other newly acquired free agent, Grant Hill. Hill would play in only four games during the 2000-01 season and 47 games total throughout his tenure with the team, forcing McGrady into a larger leadership and scoring role than anticipated. Defying the expectations of many, he emerged as one of the best players in the NBA, with Milwaukee Bucks General Manager Ernie Grunfeld going so far as to call him “one of the top five talents in the league”. McGrady’s play earned him his first All-Star Game appearance, and with final averages of 26.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game, he was selected to his first All-NBA Team, being named to the All-NBA Second Team. He was also voted the league’s Most Improved Player. With a 43-39 record, the Magic entered the playoffs as the East’s seventh seed, matched up with the Bucks. In Game 3 of the series, McGrady notched 42 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists, a performance that Bill Simmons later called “his superstar audition tape”. Orlando was eliminated by the Bucks in four games.
For the 2001-02 season, McGrady averaged 25.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game, earning his second All-NBA Team selection, this time to the All-NBA First Team. The Magic were again ousted in the first round of the playoffs, losing in four games to the Charlotte Hornets. In the 2002-03 season, McGrady won his first scoring title and, with averages of 32.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game, became one of seven players in NBA history to achieve a 30 player efficiency rating (PER) in a single season. In the playoffs, McGrady made headlines when he prematurely assumed that Orlando were guaranteed to advance to the second round after establishing a 3-1 lead over the Detroit Pistons, replying in an interview, “It feels good to get in the second round.” Despite holding the series lead, the Magic lost the series in seven games.
The 2003-04 season was a tumultuous year for McGrady; Magic coach Doc Rivers was fired after a 1-10 start to the year and there were reports of friction between McGrady and Orlando General Manager John Weisbrod. Throughout the season, Orlando struggled because of a series of injuries, finishing the year with the worst record in the East despite McGrady winning his second consecutive scoring title. Late in the season, McGrady scored a career-high 62 points in a winning effort versus the Washington Wizards. His final averages were 28 points, 6 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game.