In his prime, Tracy McGrady may have been able to command attention not unlike LeBron James when he was a free agent. But, while James announced his last contract signing with a TV special, McGrady announced in a humble post on his website that he is taking his talents to China, signing with the Qingdao Eagles of the Chinese Basketball Association.
McGrady, 33, tried out for the New York Knicks and San Antonio Spurs this off season, but the Eagles’ must have made him a compelling offer. The Associated Press reports Chinese media outlets are saying the contract is worth at least $1 million. McGrady signed with the Atlanta Hawks last season for $1.35 million, contributing 16.1 minutes per game and averaging career lows in scoring and rebounding.
USA Today notes that McGrady is likely to be one of the CBA’s most high profile athletes, not only because of his own accomplished career but because he was a teammate of Yao Ming’s for several seasons in Houston.
McGrady is a seven-time NBA all-star and two-time scoring champion. The post on his website doesn’t rule out a return to the NBA, saying he is leaving “for now,” but it reads more like a retirement speech, or the kind of speech one might make at a hall of fame induction.
“I am so proud of what I have accomplished these past 15 years playing in the NBA,” McGrady wrote. “It was a dream entering the league as I just turned 18 years old. I worked hard and poured my heart and soul into this game. I consider myself a student of the game as I have watched, studied and played with and against the best players in the world. The NBA was my University and I learned so much. The gratitude I feel is really immeasurable.”
Now McGrady hopes to follow in the footsteps of Stephon Marbury, who led the Beijing Ducks to a CBA championship last season, resurrecting his career in a sense and getting a statue built in his honor.
Tracy McGrady averaged 19.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game during his NBA career. The Qingdao Eagles finished eighth in the 17-team CBA last season.