It’s been 20 years since Isiah Thomas (the original IT) drafted Tracy McGrady out of high school. 1997 the fresh faced McGrady was making his way to Toronto, a new city and country he wasn’t all that familiar with. One big change he said he had to adjust to was the cold. Being from Orlando, there was obviously a huge temperature change.
“I remember we used to have to drive a long time to the practice court at some college.I hated it because when it was snowing I didn’t know how to drive in it” McGrady said with a laugh after receiving his Hall of Fame jacket, “I was very inexperienced, I am a Floridian who was trying to drive a Ford Explore in the snow. I didn’t know where I was going, it was very challenging when I got there.”
While some fans may still be bitter than McGrady went to the Orlando Magic after three seasons with the Raptors, the 38-year-old says he is actually jealous of the current Raptors roster and residents of the ‘Big Smoke’.
“The city is great, I am jealous of the city and the players right now because all that stuff they built around the Air Canada Centre was not there when I was playing. There is so much activity and entertainment around the arena. That was not there when I played, and there was no Drake!’
While the Raptors have resurged in popularity over the last few years with the additions of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry and you can’t forget an Easter Conference Final appearance, McGrady says he remembers when the city started to appreciate the team.
“I saw the shift. I played in the Skydome and I knew that hockey was the biggest thing up in Canada, so we were playing in the Skydome and basketball is relatively new up there and there weren’t many people coming. You do something spectacular during the game and it was like crickets. Then we moved to the Air Canada Centre and we had Vince [Carter] who was electrifying and more and more fans started to engage in the game. We were the first team of the franchise to make it to the playoffs so that was awesome and the ACC it was buzzin’.
On Friday McGrady will be introduced into the Hall Of Fame by former Raptors GM and ’00 inductee Isiah Thomas.