If you feel like seeing Tracy McGrady in a San Antonio Spurs jersey was just a fever dream, I can assure you it's not -- it actually happened. In fact, if he could have a career do-over, it would've happened much, much sooner.
The seven-time NBA All-Star spent 16 years in the league, spending the majority of that time in Toronto, Orlando, and Houston before having a few one-off seasons in New York, Detroit, and Atlanta. Entering the NBA Playoffs in 2013, Gregg Popovich called up the 33-year-old, who was playing in China at the time.
McGrady talked about the experience with Chris Mannix on The NBA Crossover Show:
"I was questioning, why am I here? But it was out of respect for Coach Pop because he called me," said McGrady. "Some of their guys were hurt entering the playoffs and he needed bodies, and he called me. Out of respect, I wanted to go down there and be a part of it."
Tracy only ended up appearing in six games for San Antonio in those playoffs, going scoreless in his 31 total minutes played on seven field goal attempts. As he revealed to Mannix, it wasn't really a satisfying experience considering he was pretty much "done", as he says.
Tracy McGrady would've loved to learn under Pop
When asked about a coach he wished he had played for in his career, McGrady didn't hesitate to bring up Gregg Popovich and the Spurs.
"I wish I had played for the Spurs," he replied. "I wish I had played for Coach Pop. I was done [in 2013]. He gets the best out of his players. I played for phenomenal coaches -- I love Jeff Van Gundy. When I stepped foot into that organization and saw how things were run from the top down, it was like, 'this is how it should be.' And you're getting good teaching."
Unfortunately, the Spurs weren't able to get Tracy a ring in 2013 and he retired after those playoffs, but he's since said it wouldn't have felt like a satisfying championship anyway.
In another universe, maybe McGrady could've signed with the Spurs in his prime and teamed up with Tim Duncan for a few titles of his own. Or Tim could've bolted to Orlando in 2000 -- something he was dangerously close to doing that became yet another Spurs-related regret for McGrady.
All in all, it's unfortunate Popovich was never able to coach up McGrady for longer than a playoff run, but it seems like both sides did fairly well on their own regardless.