Game Time: Tracy McGrady Has Unfinished Business (And Water Is Wet)
T-Mac is growling
"I have unfinished business...." -- Tracy McGrady, via Twitter on Saturday
Yeah, I got that doozy on my Tweetdeck on Saturday and had to laugh. I wondered if maybe the Twitter universe had started up one of its viral bandwagon topics, where people start hurling their contributions onto the Twitter bonfire like empty pizza boxes or beer cases. (Example: Today's was #myexisthetypeto. So there you go.)
I figured, perhaps Tracy was just replying to a trending topic entitled #Iknowthissoundsobviousbut and forgot to add the hashtagged phrase at the beginning. I waited for Chris Johnson's tweet of "#Iknowthissoundsobviousbut I wasn't an English major" or Bree Olson's tweet of "#Iknowthissoundsobviousbut I have herpes."
I mean, wouldn't they logically follow "#Iknowthissoundsobviousbut I have unfinished business" from Tracy McGrady?
But they never came.
This time it will be DIFFERENT! Maybe
As athlete Twitter accounts go, Tracy McGrady's isn't bad. Unlike many celebs/athletes, he actually replies to his Twitter followers, always a pretty cool thing for celebs to actually use social media to, you know, "socialize" -- go figure. Also, he actually has the time and interest to follow 23 people, which is 21 more than LeBron James. (For the record, Chris Paul and Uber-Twitter are the lone two with the regal traits the King desires in a followee.).
So there are things to like about Tracy's Twitter account.
(Now, don't get me started on Tracy's profile picture. It's a facial shot of him with a very un-Tracy like snarl on his face. I think he wants us to believe that he's lifting a weight because there are weight machines in the background, but the chances are just as good that he was constipated and taking a dump and decided to superimpose a picture of some weight machines behind him for show. But I digress...)
However, when I got the "unfinished business" tweet, I realized that Tracy was just doing what he does in the offseason -- trying to convince all of us that his body and soul have been repossessed by some sort of Mayan warrior and he's getting ready to attack the NBA season with the ferocity of a thousand unchained pit bulls. (The ultimate "phony warrior" red alert tweet -- "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing. -- Vince Lombardi". Huge red flag. I mean, I love Vince Lombardi, but if there's a Convincing Everyone I'm a Winner handbook, tweeting that quote would be on the first page.)
That said, despite all evidence from the last two seasons to the exact contrary, including the Knicks' fans and media turning on him in less than 48 hours, the Chicago Bulls appear to be buying it.
As you do with any potential acquisition, immediately you assess what the potential target brings to the table. And therein lies the mystery with Tracy -- no one really knows what he has to offer. The only thing that was firmly established by his two-month stint as a Knick is that he doesn't have the ability to be a front-of-the-rotation guy on a good team (or really any team) anymore. But the Bulls seem satisfied that he's worth a one-year, minimum-salary flier if he can accept a backup role.
Will it work out for Tracy in Chicago? Of course not.
For the first time in his basketball life, the Darwinian world of NBA survival has caught up to Tracy, and he's actually having to invest legitimate work to merely maintain employment. (Forget superstardom, that died two years ago with the Rockets 22-game winning streak in 2008, the last time Tracy's name was mentioned as a legit NBA star.) My gut tells me that "sweating out survival" and Tracy are not going to make very good bedfellows.
Tracy's first choice appeared to be playing for the Miami Heat, which would have been a fascinating test of the McGrady Playoff Curse. I mean, if LeDwyane Bosh were to get knocked out in the first round with McGrady clocking 15 minutes a night in the background, the Tracy McGrady Curse displaces the Ted McGinley Curse and easily becomes the strongest and most cruel jinx this side of all males shouldering the burden of shrinkage after getting out of the pool.
But Pat Riley clearly knows his team is already on ego overload, and is ultra-cautious about adding any aging stars that may be prone to a "look at me" moment to the LeDwyane Bosh mix. Tracy McGrady announced to the media two seasons ago in midseason that he would be undergoing microfracture surgery on his knee before consulting with his coach, his general manager, or the team's owner. Prone to a "look at me" moment? Tracy has a box set of them.
But my favorite part of the McGrady-to-Bulls story is that Tracy was one of star point guard Derrick Rose's favorite players as a kid, as if somehow Rose's affection for Tracy will magically add twelve inches back to his vertical leap or instill the killer instinct of a champion.
It reminds me of an episode of the underrated 1990's TV series Wings, a clever comedy that never really got the credit I thought it deserved, partially because it toiled in the shadow on the same network as the greatest sitcom of all time, Seinfeld. Nearly a decade and a half after closing its doors, the show has actually held up pretty well over the years. (It lives on at like three in the morning on USA Network.)
In one episode, braindead mechanic Lowell Mather (played brilliantly by Thomas Haden Church) meets his childhood hero, Big Strong Man, at an autograph convention. As you can see in the video below (jump to about four minutes in), Big Strong Man is now an aging, overweight, gray haired caricature of himself, complete with smoking and drinking habits. Oh, and he may or may not be homeless.
Still, it didn't stop Lowell Mather from becoming a starstruck eight-year-old all over again, and he proceeded to allow Big Strong Man to leech off of him for the next several days -- meals, a place to crash, until finally Big Strong Man caught a flight out of town. Paid for on Lowell's credit card, of course.
While I will grant that unlike Big Strong Man, Tracy McGrady actually has a very nice home, the level of Matheresque respect that Rose and the Bulls are giving Tracy is somewhat comical to watch from afar. It's equal parts blind hope and hero worship. It's low risk, but questionable reward.
Basically, it's the Bulls hoping that Big Strong Mac can foil one or two more crimes -- unfortunately, Tracy is about to crash on the Bulls couch for a season amidst a sea of cigarette butts and empty scotch bottles, before finally flying home after a first-round playoff exit (yeah, the season finale is the same every year on the Big Strong Mac show) using a ticket he charged on Jerry Reinsdorf's AMEX.
Will this be ugly in Chicago? No. It's a veteran's minimum deal, if the Bulls want to cut Tracy loose, they can. He's pretty good at going away. Ask the Rockets.
But will it work? No. In retrospect, the 2010 Knicks were a perfect spot for this edition of Tracy -- zero accountability, zero roster chemistry, a bad team. Like George Costanza when he got a job at the comically dysfunctional Krueger Industrial Smoothing, Tracy probably got to New York and thought "I can go hog wild in here!"
The Bulls are a team playing for something, a team that presumably will have a heavy slant toward defense with Tom Thibodeau as the new head coach. They're hoping that Tracy has worked hard rehabbing his injuries and that he will accept a supporting role -- two things that have never, ever happened before.
The Bulls also expect to win in the playoffs, another accomplishment that has eluded Big Strong Mac. I guess that's the silver lining in all of this -- come October, if Tracy McGrady is a Bull, then one of my 2010-2011 NBA predictions is already in the books. "Chicago Bulls lose in the first round of the NBA playoffs."
Like clockwork, business will remain unfinished.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. on the "Sean & John Show" and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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