Back in 2015, Paul Pierce narrated the difficulties he faced while defending Tracy McGrady, and explained why the legend was one of the toughest defensive assignments.
Tracy McGrady is one of the many superstars who lost their prime because of several injuries. T-Mac is widely considered as one of the greatest guards in league history. With sleeky handles, incredible shooting and sensational finishing in the paint, Tracy is one of the most prolific scorers the league has ever witnessed.
Over a 16-year career, McGrady got selected for 7 All-Star teams, 7 All-NBA teams, won the 2001 Most Improved Player award, won back-to-back scoring titles in 2003 and 2004, and was finally enshrined into the Hall-Of-Fame back in 2017.
There was no player whom T-Mac didn’t cross up and drop several buckets on. Paul Pierce was just one of the many defenders who found him an incredibly difficult assignment on the defensive end.
“Tracy McGrady is a point guard in a small forward’s body”: Paul Pierce
Back in 2015, Paul Pierce sat down with “The Players’ Tribune” and was asked to name the five toughest players he has ever guarded. Apart from mentioning LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and Vince Carter, the Celtics legend even named Tracy McGrady. Pierce wrote about Tracy:
“Tracy is a point guard in a small forward’s body. He’s 6-9, has long arms and can jump out of the gym, so every time he went up to shoot there was no point even trying to block it.
Attempting to stop him always came down to how could you bother him. With some guys you can bother their shot by playing them really tight. But every time Tracy elevated to shoot, he got so high up that you were pretty much at his will. With those type of guys, you really just have to hope they miss.
Since there was no way to stop Tracy’s shot, you just had to do everything you could to make sure he didn’t get in a position to shoot. So I would always do my best to deny Tracy the ball and be physical with him. I always knew that I couldn’t allow easy points in transition against him because then he might heat up. And if a guy with an unblockable shot heats up, well, that’s not good. But limiting transition points against a guy with the physical talent of Tracy was just a nightmare. He was such a tremendous finisher. He’s fast, he’s long and he could jump higher than anybody. And if that wasn’t enough, he was one of the better ball handlers in the league.
He’s a rare talent, and when you were up against him, you knew you were in for a tough game because he always had the green light.”