Tracy McGrady believes he was in same conversation as Kobe Bryant during his playing days

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read

According to Tracy McGrady, “real basketball people know” that he was in the same conversation as Kobe Bryant during his playing days in regard to the best players in the league.

“That was a conversation of who was the best players in the league,” McGrady said to Patrick Beverley. “It was me and Kobe — of barbershop talk and around the league. Real hoopers, real basketball people know.”

Beverley said the only thing keeping McGrady apart from the Los Angeles Lakers legend in such discussions today is McGrady’s lack of an NBA championship, and the Hall of Famer seemed to agree.

However, McGrady’s playoff failures are legendary and should not be discounted or overlooked. In 16 NBA seasons, he participated in the playoffs nine times and was eliminated in the first round during each of his first eight tries.

It wasn’t until he joined the San Antonio Spurs for the 2013 playoffs, after he had been out of the NBA and playing in China, that he won his first NBA playoff series. The Spurs with McGrady actually won three series before losing to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, a seven-game series that was extended by Ray Allen’s memorable shot that helped the Heat win Game 6 and deny the Spurs the title.

Whether that late-career ring would have elevated McGrady into Bryant’s status will forever remain a topic of debate. Bryant won five NBA titles during his 20-season career and is often included in expanded conversations about the greatest players of all time.

Bryant entered the NBA in 1996, and McGrady debuted the following year. Bryant averaged 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game over his career while McGrady averaged 19.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game.

Bryant was named All-NBA First Team 11 times, and McGrady was named All-NBA First Team twice.

The Lakers legend undeniably played for better teams and with better players, but he also was a crucial force behind their successes. McGrady played for seven NBA teams, and in his prime, he played in seven straight NBA All-Star Games while with the Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets yet never got close to a title during that time.

Still, McGrady certainly seems proud of the player he was during his time in the NBA, and it’s hard to blame him when considering the overall picture.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. He remembers the birth of "Showtime" and has always admired the star power the Lakers have brought to the game.