‘It’s going to be a hell of a run’: Tracy McGrady backs Curry’s Warriors to win the NBA title
T-Mac — a seven-time All-Star across a 16-year career — was the league’s back-to-back highest scorer in 2003 and 2004 as part of the Orlando Magic before retiring in 2013, three years before Curry would win the first of his two scoring titles.
Now into his 12th season in the Bay Area, Curry has continued his one-man assault of the record books with dogged consistency, twice being named the league’s most valuable player en route to three NBA championships.
The 33-year-old point guard has already been serenaded with MVP shouts and dazzled again this season, following up a 50-point haul against the Atlanta Hawks with another starring role in the Warriors’ 117-99 dominant victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night.
Curry sunk nine three-pointers in a 37-point performance to pass 2,900 career regular season three-pointers, putting him within range of all-time leader and Hall of Famer Ray Allen on 2,973.
Content to now admire and love the game from the sidelines as an analyst, McGrady believes Curry will justify his NBA foresight.
“You’re not going to believe me, but before the season started, I had the Warriors,” McGrady told CNN Sport’s Andy Scholes.
“I just look at who Steph is, I look at the pieces that they have on that team. Klay [Thompson] is not even back yet, the emergence of a guy like Jordan Poole, you brought [Andre] Iguodala back, Draymond [Green] looks fantastic. [James] Wiseman is not even on the court — and these guys are off to a wonderful start.
“Steph, you seen the other night had 50 points. I mean, you just don’t know who to key in on. It’s going to be a hell of a run when Klay gets back and they could put that together.
“They’re going to be tough because the shooting is outstanding on his team. To have four or five guys that shoot the ball better than anybody in the league and the way they play team basketball, it’s tough to really game plan against a team like that.”
LeBron to the Lakers’ rescue?
Victory over the Nets improved the Warriors’ record to an NBA-best 12-2 on the season, keeping them top of a Western Conference that many had initially tipped the Los Angeles Lakers to lead.
The injury absence of one of the greatest players of all-time in LeBron James stands as a notable mitigating circumstance, but the Lakers have made an underwhelming start to the season.
Tuesday night’s 121-103 defeat to the Chicago Bulls dropped the Lakers to 8-7 and leaves them middling in seventh place, though the reportedly imminent return of 17-time All-Star James from his abdominal strain may well inspire an upturn in fortunes.
But can James lift the oldest team in the league to the title?
“I think they can,” T-Mac said. “Any team that LeBron is part of, they can win a championship.
“I think they’re built for the playoffs. This is a marathon for them because these guys are up in age. It’s going to look spotty at times, it’s not going to look like they can win a championship.
“They’re still trying to put things together; we’re talking about adding a lot of new pieces to this team to build that chemistry.
“So I like their team. I just like Golden State better.”
Simmons Sixers saga
Over in the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia 76ers sit on an identical record to the Lakers following a crushing 120-85 defeat to the Utah Jazz on Wednesday that made it five losses in a row.
The Ben Simmons saga continues to loom large over the team — the Australian point guard reportedly receiving another fine for not turning up to the Sixers’ run of six away games — in a public stand-off that has bubbled continuously since an incident involving a play late in the team’s Game 7 Eastern Conference Semifinals defeat to the Hawks last season.
However, McGrady believes both parties must take responsibility for the seemingly inevitable divorce of the Sixers and a “fantastic” player.
“I think it’s blame on both sides, to be honest with you,” McGrady said.
“How things really played out in the playoffs last year, with Ben not shooting the ball, how the fans reacted to his playoff performance. Philly is a tough, very, very tough fan base and you got to be mentally tough to be able to play in a city like Philly.
“I just think with how Ben played in those playoff series and how those fans reacted, I knew it was going to be tough for him to go back coming into this season to play for the Philadelphia 76ers, and I’m sure he felt that.
“The Sixers knew that. They should have done something to protect this kid and not have this go on for so long. So I blame both sides really and, hopefully, they can rectify this situation so Philly can move on and Ben Simmons can move on with his career because I think the kid is fantastic as a basketball player.
“Hopefully, this offseason, he worked on his shooting ability to come in so whoever he plays for … he can then become a complete player because I love his game.”
On Kyrie: ‘I have to respect his decision on not getting vaccinated’
For all the coverage of the Simmons saga, it still may not be the current highest profile NBA player-team impasse — a title that surely goes to Kyrie Irving and the Nets.
In light of his decision not to get vaccinated against Covid-19, the Nets’ seven-time All-Star guard remains away from the team. Irving had initially only been unable to play home games as per the New York vaccine mandate, though the Nets announced ahead of the season that Irving would not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant.
Irving’s absence leaves the burden of responsibility upon the shoulders of superstar duo Kevin Durant and James Harden, though McGrady believes he would have respected Irving’s choice if he had been his teammate.
“Obviously, the main goal is to win a championship, and we’re going to need everybody to be a part of that,” McGrady said.
“With Kyrie choosing not to because of whatever reason he has, I have no other reason but to respect his decision. I want to win a championship and I would love for my teammate to be there, but I also have to respect his decision on not getting vaccinated.”
Speaking to CNN Sport on Veteran’s Day and having just returned from visiting American troops in Qatar, T-Mac reflected on the realization of a career that he attributes to the sacrifice of servicemen and women.
“My dream was to make it to the NBA … and my dream came true,” McGrady said.
“That game has taken me to so many places that I never thought I would be, to meet so many people all across the globe.
“Standing in front of our military — if it wasn’t for them, my dream doesn’t come true. For what they sacrifice, their courage, what they do for us for our freedom. It was beautiful, a great day.”
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