Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on Sept. 7, 2017. Tracy McGrady turns 41 years old on Sunday.
From the moment Tracy McGrady first appeared on The Jump, ESPN’s Rachel Nichols has always introduced the seven-time All-Star as “Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady.” That title became reality in 2017, when McGrady was enshrined in Springfield, Massachusetts, alongside the the legends of basketball.
McGrady played 938 regular-season games in his NBA career — plus another 50 in the postseason — so it’s hard to narrow down all his great moments, but here are 10 of the most memorable, exciting, show-stopping games on his path from high school to the NBA to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
10. 27 pts vs. Cavaliers (April 10, 2000)
If we’re being entirely objective, this probably isn’t one of McGrady’s 10 best single games, but it stands out for what it represented. It was one of the last games a young McGrady played for the Toronto Raptors, before leaving in free agency over the summer, and it gave Toronto fans a glimpse of what they’d be missing for the next decade. McGrady dropped 27 points — one shy of his career high in a Raptors uniform — and added 6 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 steals and 6 blocks. His cousin and teammate Vince Carter chipped in with a 31-point triple-double as the playoff-bound Raptors cruised past the Cavs.
9. Triple-double vs. 76ers (Feb. 23, 2002)
McGrady developed a reputation as a versatile player who could fill every column of the stat sheet early on. While he came close to posting triple-doubles in his first four seasons in the league, he finally broke through in a duel with Allen Iverson, finishing with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists to lead the Orlando Magic to an 18-point win. It was the first of four triple-doubles in McGrady’s career.
8. 2006 All-Star Game (Feb. 19, 2006)
As tempting as it’d be to include the 2002 All-Star Game, when McGrady threw a pass to himself off the backboard for a dunk, none of McGrady’s seven All-Star appearances was better than 2006, when he scored 36 points in front of his home Houston fans, though his West squad fell two points shy of victory.
7. Game-winner vs. 76ers (March 28, 2001)
When McGrady and Iverson got together, fans knew they were in for a show, and this game was no exception. Iverson put up 37 points, the last of which gave the 76ers a 1-point lead with 7.6 seconds left. But McGrady had an answer, scoring the last two of his game-high 44 points with 2.7 seconds left to give the Magic a 1-point win. McGrady’s 44 points were more than the rest of the Magic starters scored combined (37).
6. 50 pts vs. Wizards (March 8, 2002)
An injured Michael Jordan wasn’t in the Wizards lineup for this game, so he could only sit and watch as McGrady put on a one-man show for the Magic, scoring what was then a career-high 50 points. McGrady shot 18-for-29 from the field, finishing with more points than the rest of his teammates combined in leading Orlando to a 3-point win. He scored 15 of his 50 points in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.
5. Triple-double vs. Nets (Feb. 23, 2003)
In 2003, the Nets were on their way to a second consecutive NBA Finals appearance, but on this night they had no answer for McGrady. The Magic star finished with 46 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists, outdueling future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd, who had a triple-double of his own (26 points, 11 rebounds, 15 assists). McGrady gave the Magic a 1-point lead with a layup at the end of the third quarter, then scored or assisted on every point in a 17-0 run to open the fourth quarter, as the Magic cruised to victory.
4. Game-winner vs. Mavericks (April 25, 2005)
McGrady didn’t get out of the first round of the playoffs until 2013, in a forgettable (and often forgotten) stint with the Spurs, so his playoff highlights are few and far between. This game stands out as probably his most memorable playoff performance. McGrady flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 28 points, 8 rebounds and 10 assists, and lifted the Houston Rockets to victory with a game-winning jumper with 2.2 seconds left. That gave the Rockets a 2-0 lead in the series, but the Mavericks would come back to win in seven.
3. Christmas showdown with LeBron (Dec. 25, 2003)
The NBA put McGrady up against LeBron James in a marquee Christmas Day matchup in James’s rookie season, and neither player disappointed. James finished with 34 points to lead the Cavs, but McGrady topped that, posting 41 points, 8 rebounds and 11 assists. He also scored or assisted on 12 of Orlando’s 16 points in the overtime session, leading the Magic to a 113-101 win over the Cavs and James, who was held scoreless in OT.
2. Joining the 60-point club (March 10, 2004)
Prior to 2004, only 16 players in NBA history had scored 60 points in a game. McGrady became the 17th when he dropped a career-high and franchise-record 62 points on the Wizards. He got off to a slow start, putting up just 7 points in the first quarter, but he poured in 21 in the second and followed that up with 24 in the third. He tacked on 10 more in the fourth — eight from the free-throw line — to give him his 62, 22 more than the 40 Gilbert Arenas scored to lead the Wizards that night. McGrady’s 62 points represented 57.4 percent of the Magic’s total that night (108); the only other players in double digits for Orlando were Juwan Howard (14) and current Cavs coach Tyronn Lue (10).
1. 13 points in 33 seconds (Dec. 9, 2004)
If there’s one iconic McGrady performance, it’s this one. After a pair of Devin Brown free throws, the Rockets got the ball back trailing the Spurs 76-68 with 44.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter. To that point in the game, McGrady had scored 20 points and had made just one of his eight 3-point attempts. Then he caught fire like no one in NBA history ever has. His first 3-pointer of the quarter, and second of the game, cut San Antonio’s lead to 76-71 with 35 seconds left. Brown was intentionally fouled and again made both free throws to push the lead back to 7 with 31.9 seconds left. Less than 8 seconds later, McGrady poured in another 3-pointer while drawing a foul on Tim Duncan. The 4-point play cut the lead to 3 with 24.3 seconds left.
The Rockets tried to force a steal on the next play, but were eventually forced to send Duncan to the line, where he made a pair of free throws to push the lead back to five with 16.2 seconds left. In most NBA games, that would’ve been the end of things, but McGrady took just 5 seconds to make another 3-pointer, then — after a Spurs timeout — forced Brown into a turnover and followed it up by draining his fourth and final 3-pointer of the sequence with 1.7 seconds left. When all was said and done, McGrady had scored 13 points in 33.3 seconds, giving the Rockets an improbable win and leaving Spurs coach Gregg Popovich dumbfounded.