Despite the $1.5 billion spent on security, Tracy McGrady declared the 2004 Athens Games too unsafe to honor his promise to play for the U.S. team. As it turned out, it wouldn't be the terrorists creating chaos for USA Basketball's personnel, but Larry Brown.
So now, McGrady is threatening to boycott the 2008 NBA All-Star game in New Orleans, because, well, he's behaving like a selfish baby.
"When they first mentioned to me that the All-Star game was going to be in New Orleans, the first thing I thought about is how much security they are going to have for the players and everybody there," McGrady said. "If I don't feel that I'm going to be safe, if I am on that team, I will look into probably not even going."
Besides NFL cornerbacks, it's hard to imagine what impending doom awaits the Houston Rockets star during All-Star weekend in the Big Easy.
Because that'll be about all that comes at him and his peers in New Orleans or anywhere else. If McGrady feels that unsafe, he can hunker down in his Ritz Carlton hotel suite, play video games and order room service for three days. The way T-Mac is going, he's going to be a shut-in by his 40th birthday.
McGrady is a smart, likable guy, but this doomsday act is getting tired. What's worse, it's irresponsible.
As one of the Rockets' franchise stars and a face of the league, McGrady knows he has an obligation to go to All-Star weekend and sell his sport on one of its biggest stages. He is a chronic complainer to begin with – someone so self-defeating that he's turned Doctor Doom himself, Jeff Van Gundy, into Mary Poppins in an attempt to nullify his narcissism.
New Orleans is desperate for the boost, both spiritual and financial, that an All-Star weekend will bring. Of course, the New Orleans Hornets will lean on the All-Star game as a marketing tool as they re-enter the city post-Katrina. Maybe it won't be the easiest All-Star weekend, maybe it won't be the most convenient, but for goodness sakes, it is important.
Once in a while, maybe McGrady and the NBA's stars can do something that isn't easy, that doesn't indulge every remote scenario that that they can concoct in their minds.
"I don't think it's the right city to have this type of event right now," McGrady said. "I know the city is in need of trying to get back on their feet, in need of money. Safety comes first. I'm sure they have to do a lot of research and look into before they really make this decision."
Whose safety? What is he talking about? For all the talk about how horrible Vegas was two weeks ago – and all the sad, scared alarmists who sounded like frightened school children – do you know what Jermaine O'Neal told me was his biggest problem in Vegas? Getting stuck on the Strip in traffic. If McGrady hasn't figured this out in his multiple All-Star appearances, no one goes to that weekend to attack basketball players, but rather worship them.
Here's some advice, T-Mac: If you want to go marching down Bourbon Street at 3 o'clock in the morning, you'll take your chances like everyone else. Odds are, he'll get a beer spilled on him. That's life in the big city. If he goes to New Orleans to do his job, if all the league's players do, there won't be a problem.
Essentially, here is what McGrady is trying to say: The congestion of humanity and the police force will conspire to make it risky for the players to go out partying. If that's the case, McGrady is feeding into the stereotype of the selfish NBA star that sensible people believe is largely exaggerated.
Get over yourself, T-Mac, and do New Orleans – and do the sport – a favor and tell everyone that it's the league's honor to go do something for the punished people of that city and region. You need to understand that someone smarter than you will make sure you're tucked in safe and sound in New Orleans next February.
Until then, do something that has come easier on the court than off it: Think about someone else.
- New Orleans