The rule of exciting young teams in the NBA is that they need one elder statesmen on the team to be a sounding board and source of history and context when the kids come asking for advice. The Sixers ignored this maxim, give or take one Elton Brand, and suffered as a result, while the Timberwolves enjoyed the services of Tayshaun Prince and Kevin Garnett. This year, everyone’s favorite band of upstarts is the Los Angeles Lakers, and they have Luol Deng as their rotation vet.
But their resident old guy is Metta World Peace.
Though he’s only appeared in seven game for an average of six minutes, Metta is a font of knowledge of the game — along with Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, and Paul Pierce, one of the very last men to have shared the NBA floor with Michael Jordan.
Candid to a fault, World Peace is the perfect person to ask historical questions, such as: Could Tracy McGrady have been as good as Jordan or Kobe if he had stayed healthy?
Complex asked him this very question, and World Peace, perhaps surprisingly, didn’t dismiss it.
Yeah, I think with Tracy he got hurt. He didn’t lift a lot of weights. The only difference I think with Kobe was Kobe lifted more than Tracy. So I think Kobe lifting more helped his career as far as staying strong. Kobe did 20 years. So I think that was a major difference. But as far as talent—Tracy had it all. He was a big-time player. He probably would’ve averaged the same amount of points nowadays as he did back then. He was good. Very, very talented. Definitely was on the level of Kobe and Jordan at one point in time.