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On Thursday, we learned that Chinese basketball fans are very excited to see Tracy McGrady, as 2,000 of them mobbed the seven-time All-Star upon entering the nation after bidding farewell to the U.S. and signing a one-year deal with the Qingdao DoubleStar Eagles of the Chinese Basketball Association. On Friday, we learned that those fans are not alone, and that someone else is very excited to see Tracy McGrady — T-Mac himself, who took the court for his first practice with Qingdao wearing kicks prominently displaying his own mug on the side.
As Rich Lopez, publisher of sneaker blog Kix and the City, pointed out Friday morning on Twitter, it looks like the shoe features a picture of T-Mac from his days with the Orlando Magic. On one hand, that's somewhat surprising, considering you'd expect McGrady's Chinese star status to be tied to his pairing with national icon Yao Ming during their years with the Houston Rockets. On the other, as BDL Editor Kelly Dwyer pointed out on Thursday, many Chinese hoops fans — like their American counterparts — likely fell in love with T-Mac during his prime years with the Magic, when he won consecutive NBA scoring titles and was one of the most dominating offensive performers in the world. If there's a T-Mac era worth celebrating by putting his picture on a shoe, it's probably that 2000-2004 stretch in central Florida.
That said: It is probably not worth celebrating any era by putting a picture of a player — not a silhouette of an iconic moment, not the signature logo of your brand, but a straight-up picture — on a shoe, and it's definitely pretty weird for the player whose picture is on the shoes to go ahead and wear them (with the maker's logos all taped up and everything) during a workout. Or, at least, it seems that way; then again, I can't claim to be a sneakerhead.
On the plus side, whatever his footwear situation, it at least sounds like McGrady is eager to get his Chinese career underway — according to Xinhua, the 33-year-old veteran jumped into practice right after finishing his physical, eschewing a post-travel nap in favor of scarfing down some pizza in the car and getting right out on the court. Unfortunately, it wasn't the smoothest transition, according to CCTV:
The 33-year-old was obviously not in his best physical condition yet, as a missed dunk and awkward smile suggested.
Maybe it was that pizza weighing you down, T-Mac. Just to be safe, though, you should probably assume that it was the shoes, ditch 'em and get a new pair. I hear the Light Scarlet 1s are back; if you're going to be walking down memory lane with your shoes, you should at least do it in style, right?
Photos via Aaronknows.
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