Howard Beck sits down with Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady, who hits on how today’s game is played and why his generation catches so much flak when they speak up against the “softness” of today’s game.
Listen to the full episode to hear about his new venture, the Ones Basketball League, a barnstorming tour of one-on-one competitions that launched in April. They also discuss McGrady’s friendship (and rivalry) with Kobe Bryant, why baseball is still his first love, why he walked away from his ESPN gig and more.
The following transcript is an excerpt from The Crossover NBA podcast. Listen to the full episode on podcast players everywhere or on SI.com.
Howard Beck: There’s this feeling on NBA Twitter, it’s probably the younger group, where they feel like there’s a lot of just old men yelling at the clouds, get off my lawn stuff, from your generation. Is that a fair assessment?
Tracy McGrady: It’s not a fair assessment. It’s not. I think it’s always the younger generation thinking the older guys are ripping the younger generation, in which, that’s not the case. We just giving our opinion. If we were having barbershop talk, this is the same talk that the guys that are complaining and some of these players, they are talking amongst their friends, they’re talking reckless about other players. But because we’re on a platform and it’s being put out to the masses, they got a problem with it. They say the same things about these players, but we can’t say it? Like sometimes I get confused on a lot of this stuff, man. And how these people view some of the things that the older generation say, because they are actually saying the same thing. But it’s like, you know, you can’t say that about him, you too old, you can’t say that. I’m like, bro, we just voicing our opinion. There’s no malice behind it, that’s how we feel.
Howard Beck: Yeah, I think the feeling is that you guys are diminishing it somehow because with the numbers being what they are these days, whether it’s the stats or the money, I guess that it somehow diminishes what you guys did in your time. And so it’s this feeling like you guys are protecting your time, your generation, your era by maybe putting down, oh, yeah, well, the game today is so different and they’re not as physical.
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Tracy McGrady: But it’s true, but it’s true. What are we saying that is not true on that? The game is a lot easier today in terms of the rules. You’re going to have a lot more scoring. I can understand why guys are averaging… let’s say James [Harden] averages what, 35, 36 one year. And then you have a few guys this year average 30. Bron in his 19th year averaged 30, Embiid averages 30. The game today is a lot easier offensively than it was 10, 15 years ago. That is a fact.
Howard Beck: And the pace is just higher, too.
Tracy McGrady: And the pace is higher. Like I didn’t play in an era where you shoot the ball and get the offensive rebound, and the shot clock resets to 14 or 15, whatever it is. No, it’s a full 24 seconds left, right? So the pace, you get more possessions. You’re shooting more threes in today’s game. You can’t impede anyone’s progress. The game is a lot softer based on the rules. We’re not saying the players are soft people. We’re saying the rules make the game soft. Understand the difference.
Howard Beck: And just to clarify, ultimately, when you watch the game, today’s players, talent level, style of play, whatever else, I mean, are you enjoying this version of the NBA different than your own? No, not as much?
Tracy McGrady: I hate all the three-point barrage. I don’t want to see all these big guys standing out there. Like Joel Embiid, you were an MVP candidate because you were on the block this year, right? Before you were standing out there shooting, jacking up threes, when your ability, your natural ability and where you dominate is in the interior. That’s why you were at your best. This is your best season because you dominated inside. I don’t want to see you out there just jacking up threes.
Howard Beck: Yeah it’s tough to find that right balance because of the way the game is played today. Being a threat out there can also help open up the floor, and a lot of today’s game is about keeping the floor space, too. So I get that they kind of need him to do both, and to his credit he’s good at both.
Tracy McGrady: He’s really good at both.
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