Tracy McGrady is in town! Since he attended the Yao Foundation Charity Game on July 1, McGrady is now on his way to another round of commercially sponsored games in China.
When he completed his contract with San Antonio Spurs, where is McGrady's next stop has become his fans' great concern.
In a pre-game press conference in Nanning, McGrady said he might come back to China Basketball Association (CBA) league despite its under par competitive environment.
"For those who have played years in NBA and still want to prolong their career like me, CBA is a great alternative," said McGrady who played a whole CBA season before he joined the Spurs, clutched 25 points, 7.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game, and his all-star performance help him sustain his highly respectable status in China.
McGrady still enjoys great support from Chinese fans. According to media, in the Yao Foundation Charity Game he attended, spectators made several attempts to invite him on the court, yelling "T-Mac" , "T-Mac" throughout the last quarter of the game.
"China is a huge market. Last season when I played for Tsingtao Doublestar, the fans were incredible. I had a great time there," said McGrady.
But he didn't reveal much about the next stop of his career. "I am happy to be home with my wife and kids. But if possible, I may come back to CBA. I haven't really thought about that," said McGrady.
During his first CBA season with Tsingtao Doublestar, McGrady had some conflicts with Chinese referees. He blamed the referees on his Sina Weibo (Chinese version of Twitter) after a controversial CBA game, and he was fined and suspended for one game as a result.
While speaking highly of some CBA players as "their physicality is great," McGrady points to the less competitive atmosphere in CBA, saying "CBA still has a long way to go to build a game to where NBA is."
Should McGrady return to CBA as he said earlier, it may suggest that CBA is the "home for the NBA aged". Looking back the way he joined the Spurs, shortly after Stephen Jackson left the Spurs, Popovich signed him as an alternative. McGrady himself may be well aware of his periphery status in the team.
During the limited chances on the court, McGrady failed to score in his 6 NBA playoff games, including 2 games in the NBA final. Whenever Spurs took a large lead, the home crowds would demand McGrady's appearance on the court, yelling "T-Mac" until he stepped onto the court.
"If McGrady had false illusions that he deserved to be starting, it would be painful to watch him reduced to this role when he's still only 34," ESPN commentator J.A. Adande said.
As members of the 1997 draft class, McGrady has become a role player while his peer Tim Duncan remains his superstar status.
"McGrady welcomes whatever chances he can get, appreciating the support that's still out there," said J.A. Adande.
Where will be McGrady's next stop? Maybe McGrady himself truly doesn't know like he said earlier.
Whether he will come back to CBA, or join an NBA team hoping to win an NBA title before retirement like Karl Malone and Gary Payton, his Chinese fans continue their support to the former NBA superstar.