It’s Really Sort of Sad

Tracy McGrady was a professional basketball player. For much of the fifteen years he played he was one of the best players in the game: twice he led the National Basketball Association in scoring, seven times he made the all-star team, and overall he earned an astounding $163 million running up and down a hardwood floor while wearing oversized shorts and a colored wife-beater. Professional sports careers are notoriously brief, though, and McGrady hung up his jock strap in 2012 at the age of thirty-two.

But his interest in being a professional athlete was not sated so McGrady, who played high school baseball, decided he wanted to try his hand at professional baseball.

So McGrady became a pitcher for the Sugar Land Skeeters, a team in the Atlantic League. The Atlantic League is what is known as an independent league, which means its teams have no affiliation with major league baseball and its players are so lightly regarded that no major league baseball team has any interest in them.

He pitched just four times and it did not go well, but his celebrity status earned him an invitation to the league’s all-star game. When he finished his all-star work he left the pitcher’s mound to the applause of the fans and announced his immediate retirement.

After the game, reports, McGrady said that

“I got a little emotional coming off the mound,” McGrady admitted. “It feels good to be celebrated again.”

Maybe it’s more a reflection of The Curmudgeon’s own aversion to attention, which can be a bit extreme, but that statement strikes him as pretty sad. McGrady was near the center of his professional universe for about eight of the fifteen years he played basketball, yet here he is, just a few years after retiring and with $163 million in the bank, still craving the attention and feeling “good to be celebrated again.”