ORLANDO – Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon grew up idolizing Tracy McGrady because of the many otherworldly things he could do on the basketball court and that admiration grew even stronger when the two met during training camp in Orlando.
Tonight, Gordon will get to show McGrady, firsthand, some of the otherworldly things that he can do on the basketball court.
McGrady, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame back in September, will be inducted into the Orlando Magic Basketball Hall of Fame prior to the Magic hosting the Toronto Raptors at 7 p.m. McGrady, now 38, started his career with the Raptors, but signed a free-agent deal with the Magic and starred in Orlando – just miles away from his home in Auburndale – from 2000-04.
Gordon, for one, is excited about tonight’s return of ``T-Mac,’’ who averaged 28.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.53 steals in 39.4 minutes in 295 games with the Magic. McGrady was hired by the Magic in October to be a special assistant to the CEO. He and Gordon exchanged numbers and talked briefly back in October as Gordon was about to enter what has been a career year for him.
``T-Mac talked to me about the flow of the game and the rhythm of being a scorer,’’ Gordon said of their conversation. ``He talked about taking advantage of the opportunities that you have and I’m really happy for him (for being inducted into the Hall of Fame).’��
Gordon, Orlando’s leading scorer at 18.3 points per game, returns to action tonight after sustaining his second concussion of the season on March 7 following a collision with Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle. Gordon was placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol a day later and he ultimately missed the next five games. He was cleared by the league on Monday and Magic coach Frank Vogel said the power forward will return to the starting lineup tonight.
Gordon, 22, has posted career highs in scoring (18.3 ppg.), rebounding (8.4 rpg.), assists (2.3 apg.) and 3-point shooting (34.8 percent) despite missing 23 games this season because of concussions (two), ankle, calf and hip injuries.
``I mean, it’s just part of basketball and you have years like this,’’ Gordon said of the many injuries that have hampered him. ``I’ve got to do a better job of conditioning my body and conditioning my mind so that things like that don’t keep happening. But, you have to be OK with it because sometimes (injuries) are going to happen and you just continue to progress as a basketball player and do everything that you can to help your team.’’
The Magic (21-49) will likely need help from several avenues against the Raptors (52-18). Toronto saw its 11-game winning streak come to an end on Sunday in a controversy-filled 132-125 loss to Oklahoma City. The Raptors haven’t lost consecutive games since falling to Golden State and Philadelphia on Jan. 13 and 15.
Toronto comes into tonight having won 10 straight games on the road, a streak that includes a 117-104 win in Orlando on Feb. 28. The Raptors have won 16 of the last 19 games against the rebuilding Magic.
McGrady helped the Magic get beyond the rebuilding stage and into the playoffs three times in his four seasons in Orlando. While with the Magic, he led the NBA in scoring twice (32.1 ppg. in 2002-03 and 28 ppg. in 2003-04) and was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2000-01.
And he earned an awestruck fan in Gordon.
``T-Mac was a beat, man,’’ Gordon marveled. ``He had everything. There wasn’t anything that T-Mac couldn’t do on the basketball court. He was a (star).’’
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