NBA - Rule Number 1 - Tracy McGrady Canvas Art by IKONICK
No one remembers number two. Remember that.
In the modern era of the NBA, a team needs a roster full of superstars for any hope of making it through the playoffs. Having just one won't cut it anymore. If someone is off their game that night or if the opposing defense takes them out of the game, they can rely on another to pick up the slack.
Tracy McGrady wasn't so lucky.
In T-Mac's era of ball, the sun was setting on Jordan's reign and players were stepping up to try to be like Mike. Everyone wanted to be the next great one. With that shifting dynamic toward individual performance, the fate of games and championships often rested on one go-to killer on the court.
Teams needed someone with the foundational skills to be reliable, the athleticism to be effective from tip-off to the final buzzer, and the leadership to rally their team when they needed it. In other words, they needed Tracy McGrady.
The team that got him? The Toronto Raptors. Drafted with the ninth overall pick of the 1997 draft, McGrady joined a squad led by his cousin, Vince Carter.
The new rookie was a student of the game from the beginning, learning skills and techniques from V.C. that would sharpen his game for the years to come. After the learning curve of his rookie year, McGrady and Carter formed an effective dynamic duo that would bring the Raptors to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
But McGrady was still number two to his cousin. And no one remembers number two.
So, with his newly acquired skills and confidence, McGrady made the tough decision to leave the squad and go somewhere he could truly shine.
When he arrived in Orlando, McGrady knew he was home. Having grown up in Florida admiring Magic star Penny Hardaway, McGrady now had the number and team to match the jersey of his childhood idol.
McGrady became the de facto leader with the injured Grant Hill being sidelined for many games. With T-Mac at the helm, his effortless scoring prowess and fluid movement on the hardwood became apparent right away.
The accolades and awards rolled in, and McGrady's play began to reflect the number on his jersey. He had come into his own and was no longer playing in anyone else's shadow. He was finally number one.
Lesson learned: Don't be number two. Sure, there is value in apprenticeship and learning from a mentor above your skill level—T-Mac might never have been if it wasn't for the tutelage of Vince Carter—but if you don't step out of the shadow, no one will ever see what you can do. Those skills will never shine.
"Rule Number 1" from the officially licensed NBA Legends canvas art collection is the only rule you need to follow. Embrace the mindset that brought Tracy McGrady into the light. Have the confidence to step out of the shadow and become number one.