The T-Mac Shout Out!
Yesterday at 10:02 am the following message from Tracy McGrady came across my Twitter feed!:
I dream big things here at mevsMJ.com, but even for me, having Tracy McGrady give ME a shout out blows my mind! The fact that one of the best basketball players to ever play the game knows ME and all about what I’m looking to accomplish here on this site truly hasn’t even registered with me completely! I’m so unbelievably thankful and humbled. Dreams DO HAPPEN!
Here is the backstory on how it all came about.
The Bold Challenge (June 22, 2011)
Four weeks ago I sent the following tweet to Tracy McGrady:
I then asked some friends to please send him a message on Twitter letting him know that I’m serious.
By the seventh message sent T-Mac responded with:
I was blown away! Tracy McGrady had responded and checked out mevsMJ.com! Unreal!
Still, I wanted to play him and the “Get ya team” in his message, I thought might just be my chance, as it was in reference to his upcoming Indoor Streetball Tournament held this past weekend in Auberndale, Florida.
My History with Tracy McGrady (Summer 2000)
I met Tracy for the first time eleven years ago during the Summer of 2000. He was a free agent and the two major teams in the running for his services were the Chicago Bulls and the Orlando Magic.
At the time I worked in the sports department for the local ABC affiliate, in Orlando. In those days I was working for peanut shells, I didn’t even get the peanuts, but experiences like the one that would happen on this particular evening in 2000 were priceless.
The main on-air guy in sports at the time had gotten word that McGrady would be flying into Orlando around 10:30 pm from North Carolina. We also knew that the next day the Orlando Magic would be holding a press conference, but up to that point it was still unknown as to where McGrady would be signing. Remember, this was before Twitter and instant information.
So I was sent to Orlando International Airport, just one cameraperson and myself and asked to see if I could get any response from Tracy when he came off of the plane. We were the only crew there.
Sure enough, like clockwork, a rather small plane arrived with no more than 15-20 people on it and after about 10 people exited the plane, I could see T-Mac making his way down the walkway, accompanied by his then personal trainer Wayne Hall.
I was a bit concerned as to how Tracy, who I had never met before, would take us being there, camera, bright light, microphone, and it being rather late in the evening, but my worries were quickly dispelled.
As soon as McGrady saw me, a large smile erupted on his face. I think he was surprised to see us there, but not the least bit upset.
He walked right over, answered every single question I had, gave me the scoop on his signing with Orlando (on camera) before anyone had it, including ESPN, shook my hand and went on his way, signing autographs as he walked through the airport.
Soon thereafter I exited television and Tracy McGrady went on to Superstardom, at one point being regarded as perhaps the best player in the NBA.
Eleven Years Later (We Meet Again in Auberndale)
This past Saturday, I got up before the sun and headed 45 minutes down the road to Auberndale, Florida for the first time.
I was there for Tracy McGrady’s Annual Streetball Basketball Tournament.
I was there to see Tracy McGrady and ask him in person to play me 1-on-1!
I arrived just in time to see the start of the first game of the tournament, which was filled throughout the two days with some serious basketball featuring numerous current or former pro basketball players.
Midway through the second game, in walked T-Mac. After some hellos he made his way into the stands about 10-15 feet from me, took a seat and began taking in the basketball action.
I gave him a good 30 minutes to an hour to get settled in and then decided it was time. It was time to see if T-Mac would play me 1-on-1.
As I made my way over to him, I felt the same way I did some eleven years ago, not exactly sure how Tracy would feel about me approaching him while he was relaxing with a friend.
Just as I was almost to him, he looked up, and I said, “Hey man, I’m the guy with mevsMJ.com.”
Like all those years ago in the airport in Orlando, that same smile and laugh came across his face and he welcomed me with a handshake.
I sat down next to Tracy and told him all about mevsMJ.com. He asked me whom I’ve played and at one point, with a smile asked; “Do you score when you play these people??” to which we had a good laugh over. After I informed him that, YES, I do score, haha, he said that was great and gave me some kudos for competing with true athletes.
I explained to Tracy how my goal of playing Michael Jordan 1-on-1 has really become about showing people what’s possible with faith and hard work, to which he concurred, tagging it with, “It’ll be awesome if you can get the game with MJ!”
We chatted for a few more minutes and as I shook his hand and thanked him for his time I said to him, “If you have anything left after your games tomorrow, let me know!” He knew exactly what I was talking about, laughed and said no problem!
I Didn’t Play Tracy McGrady
In the end I didn’t play T-Mac. He played in the first of three games his team played on Sunday and then took in the festivities from the crowd, taking pictures and signing autographs throughout.
I did make my way over to him and thank him on Sunday for his time and then enjoyed a full day of super intense hoops!
I Would Have Played T-Mac…IF
I really feel Tracy would have played me IF he wasn’t hosting his own tournament and doing all that comes with that responsibility.
I also really feel Tracy would have played me IF he grasped just HOW BIG OF A DEAL he really is.
Let me explain.
As we were talking on Saturday about me playing Jordan, I said to him, “Anything is possible, I mean, look at what’s happening right now. I’m sitting here talking with you!”
I could tell that the comment kind of made him feel uneasy and his humble response of “I don’t know man, how hard is it to really come to the tournament?” proved that.
I met Tracy McGrady, while we were both in our early 20s, before he was really T-Mac. Before he was truly a household name. He was extremely welcoming, kind and humble then.
It’s nice to see that after all of these years and all of the accolades he’s amassed along the way, that some things never change.
Tracy McGrady is a true superstar of a person, one that I’m happy to now say I know.
me vs. MJ…the amazing journey continues!
For more information on T-Mac and his Tracy McGrady Foundation which sponsored the Streetball Tournament be sure to check out his website. You can also follow Tracy on Twitter: @TheReal_TMAC. Lastly, HELP T-Mac (Ambassador to China) and the Red Cross raise money for the disaster relief program by visiting http://www.tmac-china.com/Home.html.
For more info on my journey to play Michael Jordan:
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