In the ten or twelve seconds between the regular season's end and the playoffs' explosion, we'll be presenting the Haus's version of NBA awards. Following the footsteps blazed by our NFL brethren, in these posts we'll be Crowning Their NBA Asses, or CTNBAA for short. Our choices may be bold, they may be provocative. But rest assured, they will always, always come from our inner hearts and minds.
This one's totally subjective, and I know it's probably not a "real story." Nevertheless, I want to hand one Tracy McGrady the award for Most Sympathetic Player.
Once as incandescent a scorer as the league has ever known the injury-riddled, T-Mac is now supposedly Yao Ming's sidekick. As Yao bloomed into the league's best center, a sometimes-healthy McGrady sometimes filled in the blanks, sometimes cheered him from the sidelines. When the two appeared on Jimmy Kimmel together, their heartwarming bond was put on display for all the world to see. Rarely do superstars cede their crowns so gracefully.
But that wasn't it for McGrady. After both men missed long stretches, he came back first, and promptly showed he still could carry a team. And now, with Yao on the mend and the Rockets scorching straight into the playoffs, we're seeing the old T-Mac again. It's basically the best of both worlds--as a prematurely-aged vet, McGrady is showing maturity, respect and peer leadership with Yao. At the same time, we're getting to see him regain the prowess that wowed us in Orlando.
As if that weren't enough, his off-court life was a feel-good story, too. While McGrady spent last season dealing with a slew of personal tragedies, this fall he married his longtime companion, and continued to enjoy his notoriously low-key domestic existence. Maybe it's unfair that McGrady, like Ray Allen, is virtually dislike-proof. But only Doug Christie could go through what T-Mac has and not have everyone rooting for him.
Honorable mention: Kevin Garnett, Shaun Livingston, Paul Pierce