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T-Mac was the original YouTube basketball superstar

Tracy McGrady is being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend. McGrady is also a member of ESPN's NBA coverage team. As T-Mac enters the Hall, his ESPN colleagues had some things to say about him as he receives this honor.

Tracy McGrady is responsible for one of the most iconic moments in recent NBA history when, in early December 2004, he scored 13 points in 33.3 seconds to lead the Houston Rockets to a breathtaking win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Tracy McGrady overcame the efforts of Gilbert Arenas and the Wizards to post 62 points. Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty Images
It is, without question, the defining moment of his career as it combined his incredible scoring ability with his flair for the dramatic. These traits have birthed a thousand YouTube videos because McGrady was a first-generation YouTube star.

Over the past few years, I've gotten the chance to be with Tracy when young players from today are introduced to him. They approach him in awe. I specifically remember it happening with Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon on the set of The Jump. These guys grew up loving the T-Mac persona and wearing his shoes -- they very clearly admired him.

Those who want to jab McGrady's first ballot Hall of Fame selection might point out this defining moment was in a regular-season game. Unlike many of his new Springfield-inducted peers, McGrady doesn't have a history of postseason success.

There's a doctorate-level essay that could be written on that, from the injuries to star teammates like Grant Hill and Yao Ming that befell him, to his own personal play. When discussing this issue over the years, his former coach Jeff Van Gundy has repeatedly and accurately pointed out that McGrady's statistics in the playoffs were better than they were in the regular season. It's true.

But I think it's imperative to move beyond that and look at what made guys like LaVine's and Gordon's eyes light up when they were in the same room. Just go back to that moment in 2004. When he started his incredible run against the best defense in the league at the time, the Rockets had 68 points. With 35 seconds left they had 68 points. The Spurs had only 78. What a terrible game, which was on national television, he saved.

n 2004 the NBA was in a dangerous lull. Michael Jordan had retired. The Lakers Kobe-Shaq superteam had broken up. Scoring was at a ridiculous low. Pace of play was a crawl. The ratings for the 2004 Finals hit rock bottom. The NBA had installed a series of rule changes hoping to get people interested in the game again.

It was during this era that McGrady was a beacon. He kept people's interest in the game. He appealed to millions of new fans in China who tuned in to watch Yao but were captivated by his high-flying teammate.

He was a player who was ahead of his time, a wing built with the ability to be a great scorer and a great playmaker. A guy who could dunk and shoot 3-pointers. His ability to draw young people to the game was vital for the league in those years. His signature shoes were huge sellers. There was a time when TMacs sold better than the shoes of any other active player. That was really important.

It was Tracy's burden to have bad timing in his career. Things just never worked out the way he dreamed. He made a lot of money, yes. He created a lot of fans, absolutely. But he always had a sadness for things he couldn't control. His timing for when he was at his peak was poor too, even though I can say with certainty those days had currency for all involved.

That's why this honor is deserved. Tracy deserves to headline this Hall of Fame class. He deserves this moment in the sun.

Source: http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/20622252/nba-mcgrady-remembered-spectacular-play

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