Many have wondered what the Toronto Raptors would have looked like if they had kept Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady as their core players for a longer stretch. According to McGrady, it would have meant matching up against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers and playing for a championship.
The Hall of Famer told this to Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson on an episode of All The Smoke.
Transcript via Gabriel Fernandez of CBS Sports:
“We would’ve played for a championship,” McGrady said of the Raptors team he played on. “We would’ve faced the Lakers if I would’ve stayed, there’s no doubt about that, but, there was so much stuff going on in Toronto with the organization. There was no way I could’ve stayed.”
McGrady left the Raptors after just three years with the team. He played a mere 13 minutes per game in his rookie season in Toronto, one he described as “hell” as part of the only expansion team outside of the United States.
While his playing time increased in his second season, the Raptors also hit big by drafting his cousin, Vince Carter, before the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season. But by the time McGrady’s third year was done, he’d only started in 53 out of 192 games.
T-Mac had all the raw athleticism the Raptors expected of him, but Carter was a more polished scorer with a wider array of tools at his disposal. His desire to come out of Carter’s shadow played a big role in his free-agent decision.
McGrady signed a six-year, $67.5 million deal with the Magic in 2000, one that would see him become a scoring force and a league-leader in scoring in back-to-back seasons (2003, 2004).
However, Tracy McGrady never came close to sniffing a championship ring throughout his career. In fact, he never made it out of the first round when he was the lead man.