It was the first day of December in 2001. I went to school just like I would on any other day. However, this was not just any other day. The company my dad worked for owned a luxury suite at the MCI Center (1) in downtown DC. He’d asked for tickets to the Wizards/Magic game that night, and was going to take me with him. As weird as it seems now, at the time I was not a huge Wizards fan. Like any other 90’s kids, my fanhood was in limbo after the Bulls dynasty ended. I kept watching the NBA though. I was excited when Michael Jordan said he was coming back, and even more excited when I found out he was going to play for the local team. At one point, my family drove by the neighborhood where Jumpman23 was going to build his house (2). Despite all of this, however, I had moved on from MJ. He was not the reason why I wanted to go to the Wizards game. The Wizards were not even the reason why I wanted to go to the Wizards game. It was somebody else.
For a game that showcased one-fourth of the greatest basketball team ever assembled (3), you would think that I would do anything for a chance to relive their glory (4). Nope. Three words: Lazy-Eyed Assassin. Recently signed to the Orlando Magic from Toronto, Tracy McGrady was a stud. Nobody knew how good he really was until after he saw sunlight for the first time after stepping out of Vinsanity’s huge shadow. Once he became the leader of his own team, he emerged as one of the best players in the Hip Hop Era of basketball (5), and quickly became my favorite player of all-time. The way he could leap like the Glide and finger-roll like Ice was special. I wanted to be just like him. I wore #1 in my fifth grade rec basketball league because of T-Mac, and it helped (6).
Needless to say, I was a Tracy McGrady fan. My dad and I went to the game that night and had a blast. I got to watch the greatest player of my lifetime in Michael Jordan (5), got to see T-Mac perform his magic with the Magic in his prime, got to join in giving Patrick Ewing a standing ovation welcoming him back to DC for one of the last times in his playing career, and got to cross off going to an NBA game from my not-yet-written bucket list.
This is one of the many events in my life that has encouraged me to pursue professional basketball as a hobby. Creating this blog is the natural next step for my hobby, as a way to talk through some of the ways I perceive the game, and also as a personal referendum I can use for myself. The main focus is going to be professional basketball, but at the same time I’m not going to limit myself to just that. I’m not really sure what else that could include, but I’m going to wisely leave that door open if/when the time comes.
(While I’m writing I tend to want to say extra things that would distract from the larger picture of the post, so I just write these thing at the end. Just fyi.)
(1) Now called the Verizon Center, as Verizon bought out MCI in 2006.
(2) This never happened because Jordan and Pollin fell-out faster than Kris H. and Kimmy K.’s marriage. Just kidding, it wasn’t that fast.
(3) It’s only one-fourth if you count Laettner.
(4) For the record, I was born on July 8, 1992. Before old-timers snap on me, the Dream Team played Angola on July 26, 1992. I’m classified, along with everyone else born in the June 15-August 8 range in 92, as a Dream Baby. This makes me more qualified than at least half of the people on the internet.
(5) Will explain both of these statements in later posts. Jordan was good, but was he really the greatest? I’ll leave you hanging with that and let you know what I think later.
(6) Statistically the best year for my basketball career. In a league where the final scores were usually in the 20s, I averaged 9.8 points a game for the last half of the season. T-Mac-esque to say the least. Only difference was that we won our first round of the playoffs.