Former Heat guard thinks if Tracy McGrady worked like Kobe Bryant he might’ve been the best ever'
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Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Former Miami Heat guard Jason Williams thinks that NBA legend Tracy McGrady could have been the best player ever if he had Kobe Bryant’s work ethic.

“I always thought to myself if T-Mac – he was so good, that he didn’t have to work like Kobe,” Williams said. “Is that fair? If T-Mac worked like Kobe, I’m thinking T-Mac might be the greatest ever.”

A Hall of Famer, McGrady was a two-time scoring champion, seven-time All-Star and seven-time All-NBA selection in his career. In the 2002-03 season, he led the league by averaging 32.1 points per game while shooting 45.7 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from 3-point range.

“T-Mac definitely doesn’t get enough respect, in my eyes,” Williams said.

A star with the Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets, McGrady may have had a different career trajectory had he not dealt with so many injuries. During his career, McGrady had injury issues with his back, his left shoulder and his left knee.

In the 2005-06 season, when McGrady was still an All-Star, he ended up dealing with back spasms that limited him to just 47 games. He still averaged 24.4 points per game that season, but the seven-time All-Star would play over 70 games just two times over his final six seasons in the NBA.

Then, in April of 2008, McGrady underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and shoulder after playing in 66 games during the 2007-08 season. The injuries not only hurt McGrady’s chances of finding his All-NBA level again, but he also saw his numbers suffer in a big way, averaging just 15.6 points per game in the 2008-09 campaign – his age-29 season.

McGrady never made another All-Star team after the 2006-07 season. To compare, Bryant made 18 All-Star games in his career, including each of the last 17 seasons that he played in the NBA. That kind of longevity is hard to find.

Bryant, who was known for his legendary work ethic that helped him win five NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers, is one of the greatest players of all time, but even injuries – mainly a ruptured Achilles late in his career – slowed his production.

It’s interesting that Williams, who competed against both players, holds McGrady in such high regard, but it’s still hard to project how different a player he would have been had he worked like Bryant.

McGrady still put together a terrific NBA career, playing for the Toronto Raptors, Magic, Rockets, New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks. He finished his career averaging 19.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.