The top amateur talent from all over the globe was in attendance this past weekend in Garden Grove, CA for adidas Nations. Two-time NBA Scoring Champion Tracy McGrady stopped by to get in on the action after recently ending his post-basketball stint in Minor League Baseball. Once a top amateur talent himself, the future Hall-of-Famer took the court at Next Level Sports Complex on Sunday afternoon, matching up with Arizona Freshman Stanley Johnson, giving him a few pointers during the afternoon college counselor games in the process.
I had the chance to catch up with T-Mac after he cooled off from playing to talk about his first strikeout as a minor league pitcher, playing with the young guys at Nations, dunking on Shawn Bradley and life after basketball.
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Dime: How did it feel to be out on the court with the young guys again today?
Tracy McGrady: It felt good man. (There were) guys out there with great talent- future NBA players. It was good to get out there and mess around with them a little bit.
Dime: You’re back in the gym after spending a summer on the mound. What was your experience like with the Sugar Land Skeeters? Talk me through that.
McGrady: It was fun. Baseball has always been a love of mine. I got to fill that dream. I’m glad that I was young enough to go out there and experience that. You know, it’s over now and it’s on to the next one.
Dime: When you threw that first strike out, how did that compare to dunking on your opponent in the NBA?
McGrady: You get a rush. You get a real high rush from that. Especially with me leaving the court and going to the diamond playing baseball and playing against these guys that have been playing baseball all their lives- to strike one of those guys out was pretty remarkable.
Dime: Did you find any parallels between your short stint in baseball and your time in the NBA?
McGrady: Not really. I mean, baseball is more of a mental game. Basketball is both. I think that the way you have to prepare yourself mentally for a baseball game is crazy, man. These guys arrive at the field five hours before each game starts. In basketball, we get there an hour and a half, two hours before, lace em’ up and get ready to play. It’s a grind that’s every day for baseball. Same routine every, every day.
Dime: On the court today, I saw that you took (Arizona Freshman) Stanley Johnson aside. Have a lot of younger guys come up to you during your time here and asked to pick your brain on some things?
McGrady: I had a Q&A with him and really tried to drop some wisdom on him. He was one of the guys that I kept hearing about that’s pretty dag-gone good. With me having a high IQ for the game and playing on the highest level, I know a few things. So I just tried to give him some pointers and help him reach the best of his ability.
Dime: Were there any (college) guys outside of him that impressed you?
McGrady: Man, when you in the game, it’s tough to really engage on who’s doing what. These guys got talent. A couple of these guys really stand out. I watched them today and I’ve seen some of these guys play because they’re in the area in Houston. There’s a guy over (on the opposite court) there that I watched play in high school. So I’m familiar with a few of these guys and I’m looking forward to seeing them on the next level.
Dime: Do you have any favorite moments that you can pinpoint that really stand out to you as you reflect on your NBA career?
McGrady: Going on scoring sprees, being able to drop…
Dime: 13 points in 33 seconds?
McGrady: Yup, that’s one of those moments that will always be memorable. Dunking on Shawn Bradley, scoring 62 points – I mean those are moments that I’ll always remember and that will be in the record books for a while.
Dime: Now that you’re playing career is over, you said earlier, “On to the next one.” Do you have any idea on what it is that you want to do next?
McGrady: I don’t really have an idea. I’ve got four kids at the house and it’s my priority to raise them and watch them become the person that they’re going to become.
What do you think?
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