Tracy McGrady Reportedly Puts on Uniform, Demands Answers
What resulted (with McGrady in full uniform after warming up with teammates before the game) was a heated closed-door argument, Woj reports. The writer's sources claim Mac demanded to know why team management wouldn't let him get back on the court sooner than next week's scheduled MRI.
As someone who followed an Adelman-coached team closely for eight years, this is certainly rare -- R.A. feuded with very few players in Sacramento, with only Tony Massenburg standing out in memory. (Adelman and Chris Webber had their moments, but I'd argue no other coach in the league would have survived the troubling end to the 2003-04 season, in which Webber ruined the sparkling Kings by returning from surgery too early, and then blamed Peja Stojakovic for the second round exit. Somehow, Adelman came out of it looking like a white hat.)
But perhaps that's part of the problem -- Adelman is reserved, and has no time for drama. McGrady's situation is fairly dramatic. Adelman's silent insouciance (also seen in the fourth quarter of big games, unfortunately) probably makes McGrady feel underappreciated, or brushed aside.
McGrady's the league's highest-paid player, a former MVP candidate watching his career twinkle out due to chronic back problems and last year's microfracture surgery. This has to be a rough transition for McGrady, especially if what McGrady's people tell Woj is true: that the Rockets are stalling to collect insurance money, some $226,000 for every game the star misses from here on out. If McGrady truly believes that theory, he deserves answers, and Adelman probably owes his player his ear.
I'd be inclined to believe that said claim -- which comes from McGrady's people, mind you -- is not true, and that it's more an issue of Adelman and team management (led by Daryl Morey) knowing that the McGrady era is basically over, and that the New Rockets need to learn to win, lose and play without the epic possession/attention soaker. For all the criticism of what his game has become, McGrady has been surprisingly gracious on the court the last few years, but by his extant standards that's not enough for the newly egalitarian Rockets.
It's too bad, because McGrady's clearly gone from Houston by June 30 (when his contract expires), if not sooner. That would mean that McGrady has left three NBA teams, all of them in less than happy circumstances. I suppose the same could be said of most lightning-rod stars (Shaquille O'Neal certainly included), but that really doesn't make it any less unfortunate. Only McGrady and the Rockets know the truth here -- whether McGrady is being a prat, or whether Houston is doing him wrong -- but no matter what, based on history and preconceived notions, it will reflect poorly on McGrady. It's probably something in between, if in-between even exists in matters of pride. If reports like this persist, though, it's plausible we'll never know, because it's plausible McGrady may have worn that Rockets uniform -- in a visitor's locker room office, mind you -- for the last time.