I. A Long Goodbye
SUGAR LAND, Texas — The game does not leave gently. And so on a fall afternoon, with sunlight streaming through the windows of his home basketball gymnasium, Tracy McGrady practices hard for an NBA comeback he will never make.
His face sparkles with sweat. A gray T-shirt clings to his chest. He has been shooting three-pointers for more than an hour in a routine he has performed every day since completing a childhood dream of playing professional baseball. He must hit 500 of these three-pointers before he can stop. Music thumps from a nearby speaker. A silent tally builds…455…456…457.
He already knows the futility of his quest. It's a few days before he left on a monthlong trip to China during which he hit the winning shot in a basketball exhibition, posed for hours of photographs and perhaps made millions in endorsements and future business.
The China trip had been booked since January, so even if an NBA team had called on the phone he has left on a nearby bench, he would not have been able to attend its training camp. He won't sign unless he goes through camp. That wouldn't be doing it right. If there's going to be a comeback—and it doesn't seem there is—he is going to do it right.
Still McGrady pushes through these workouts, because after 15 months away from the NBA there is something in these jump shots. His body feels young again.
"I'm better than half the damn league anyway." - Tracy mcgrady
The back spasms that sabotaged his prime seasons are gone. The left knee pain that took away his speed has disappeared. He is fresh. He is certain if he works extra hard and gets into what he calls "tip-top" shape, he can matter for a team again.
"I'm better than half the damn league, anyway," he will later grumble.
He is 35 now and richer than any kid who never went to college could ever dream of being. His net worth has been estimated at $80 million, according to Wealth-X, an ultra high net-worth intelligence and prospecting firm.