December 9th, 2004. Tracy McGrady did the unthinkable: he dropped 13 points in the last 33 seconds of a game against the Spurs to win it for the Rockets. We can all agree that the performance was unreal, but it was truly something else if you experienced it from basketball-mad/basketball-deprived China, like I did.
I was nine years old, in grade four. Back at that time, due to the limitations of technology as well as the time difference, watching the NBA live was virtually impossible. I didn’t have a cellphone or a smartphone to check the results, and the Chinese sports channels broadcast only a very limited selection of games. Due to Yao Ming, we mostly got the Rockets. I was only allowed online during the weekend, so in order to find out what happened each day, I would come home every night from school and turn on the TV at 6pm, which was when they showed the highlights from that day’s NBA action. Back then, that was my only way of learning about the sport.
But it was different on December 9th, 2004. Normally the 6pm sports show would broadcast the domestic Chinese sports news for 15 minutes, then go to the NBA segments. But when I came home and turned on the TV, I saw T-Mac’s photo. They led the broadcast with his 13 points in 33 seconds, showing every basket he made and replaying each multiple times. As soon as it was over, my friends called me to tell me how wild that was. We couldn’t really text each other back then, but the next morning, everyone in school was talking about it. Everywhere I went, I heard people talking about T-Mac’s performance. It was surreal. I truly believe that was the night that T-Mac went from a NBA superstar to a basketball god in China, especially among my generation. That might also explain the lower third below on why Tracy was “hella famous in China.”
Anyway, if you want to re-visit what led to this epic, once-in-a-lifetime performance that turned T-Mac into a legend thousands of miles from his own home, please go watch the video above.