Tracy McGrady Will Be Valuable Asset to Entire Magic Organization

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

By John Denton Oct. 6, 2017

ORLANDO – There’s gray in the goatee now and the jump shot – the one that he used to electrify Orlando Magic fans and carve out a Hall of Fame career – isn’t nearly as silky smooth, but Tracy McGrady knows that he still has plenty of basketball knowledge left to offer NBA players of today.

That’s why, one by one, many of the Orlando Magic’s players chatted up McGrady before, during and after the team’s practice at the Amway Center on Friday. And when McGrady playfully joined a line of players working on their 3-point shots after practice, they marveled at the stroke that the 38-year-old former all-star guard used to knock down shots.

McGrady, who last month was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, was hired by the Magic on Friday as a special advisor to CEO Alex Martins. His newly created job will include community relations work and promotional ventures with the Lakeland Magic near and dear to his Polk County roots. Also, the former All-NBA and All-Star performer will be around to offer up advice to Orlando’s young players in an attempt to help the franchise return to contention.

``It feels good because this is the place where I made a name for myself domestically and globally,’’ McGrady said of his return to the Magic. ``I cherish my time when I was here and I still enjoy coming back. It feels right, it feels right to be around these guys and this organization.’’

McGrady’s career blossomed from in Orlando from 2000-04 when it was the Magic who took a chance on the young, mostly unproven player by signing him to a maximum-salaried free agent contract. From there, McGrady erupted into one of the NBA’s biggest megastars in Orlando by making four all-star teams, twice leading the league in scoring, reaching the playoffs three straight times and once scoring a franchise-record 62 points in a game.

It was a fairytale sort of ride back then for McGrady, who was born in Bartow and grew up in nearby Auburndale. Now that he’s back again in Central Florida and back with the Magic that helped make him famous, McGrady feels like he’s right where he belongs.

``It’s home. This is right,’’ McGrady said with conviction. ``This is the place that gave me the opportunity to make a name for myself. I still have great ties with the organization and they take care of me every time that I come home. Again, it just feels right for me to be back home and I’m excited for the opportunity to be around these guys.’’

McGrady still works for ESPN, appearing regularly on the network’s show ``The Jump’’ from Los Angeles. Because of that preexisting role, he said he will likely be around the Magic one-to-two times a month during the season. Still, he feels that by establishing relationships with young Magic players such as Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton and Jonathan Isaac, that he can be a huge help to the team.

``I like to think my basketball acumen is up there,’’ said McGrady, who sat courtside next to Magic Chairman Dan DeVos on Thursday night when Orlando whipped Dallas in preseason action. ``Being a student of game, I want to help these (Magic players) out with advice and whatever capacity it is that they want, whether it’s on or off the basketball court, mental stuff or physical stuff. I want to try and make it easier for them.

``We’re all students of the game and we all want to get better. I’d hope that’s everybody’s goal – to get better every day and every year,’’ McGrady added. ``I was once in their shoes. I want to stay around the game and help guys out because guys once helped me out and helped me to get to the point that I am now. I’m just giving that back now. I can’t take it with me. I have a lot of basketball knowledge and I’ve seen a lot of things and I feel that I can help individuals.’’

Payton, the Magic’s starter at point guard, is one of those individuals and he raved about the interactions with the Hall of Famer on Thursday night and Friday at practice.

``That’s somebody who can give our players a lot of good knowledge,’’ Payton said of McGrady. ``Obviously, he didn’t play point guard (like Payton does), but it’s good to have him talking to Evan (Fournier), Aaron (Gordon) and (Terrence Ross), anything he can do to help guys like that, it’s going to help us be better.’’

In addition to wanting to be a presence in helping the Lakeland Magic be a success, McGrady wants to be a part of Orlando’s rise back into contention. The Magic have been out of the playoffs each of the past five seasons, but before that the franchise was in the 2009 NBA Finals, the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals and a playoff participant for six consecutive seasons. McGrady sees no reason why the Magic can’t get back to a point where they are competing for championships once again.

``The goal is to up this franchise and help it get back to the point where it is competing in the Eastern Conference and raising banners around here,’’ he said while gazing at the 1995 and ’09 Eastern Conference banners hanging inside the Magic practice facility. ``Not so much being where we’ve been the last few years (out of the playoffs) and I want us to be the talk around the league that we’ve got talent here that’s developing.

``That’s more critical now because guys want to team up – talking about the elite players – so I think now organizations have to do a do a great job of drafting players and developing players,’’ he continued. ``I think the guys that we have around here in the (front office) and with the coaches, they’re capable of making it happen.’’

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