Walker nearly ru­ined McGrady

Sunday Sports - - SIMMONS SAYS -

I re­mem­ber the con­ver­sa­tion like it was yes­ter­day, stand­ing near the bas­ket­ball court at what was then called SkyDome, Dar­rell Walker shak­ing his head, his arms crossed, as he held his daily me­dia gather­ing as coach of the Rap­tors.

He was talk­ing about Tracy McGrady, again. About his frus­tra­tion with the Rap­tors rookie. About his belief that McGrady would never make it in the NBA, didn’t have it, didn’t work hard enough, wasn’t se­ri­ous enough, couldn’t get his head out of those damn video games.

What ended up hap­pen­ing? Walker was fired as coach of the Rap­tors af­ter 49 games that 1998 sea­son, win­ning just 11 times. As for McGrady, well, on Fri­day, af­ter lead­ing the NBA in scor­ing twice, af­ter play­ing in the all-star game seven times, he was in­ducted in the Bas­ket­ball Hall of Fame.

What can a coach mean? Butch Carter, who re­placed Walker, in­vested greatly in McGrady — pushed him, prod­ded him, be­lieved in him, watched him and helped him grow.

Un­for­tu­nately, he be­came great af­ter leav­ing Toronto. Not sure what would have be­come of McGrady had Walker re­mained his coach.


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