Toronto Raptors

Tracy McGrady: Hall of Famer says 'I had to get out,' when explaining choice to leave Toronto Raptors as free agent

One of the biggest "what ifs" in NBA history surrounds the duo of Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady that ended after two seasons with the Toronto Raptors.

MORE: What if T-Mac and Vince became a superstar duo in Toronto?

McGrady, who left the Raptors to sign with the Orlando Magic as a free agent in the offseason of 2000, went on to make seven-consecutive All-Star appearances and win back-to-back scoring titles in the 2002-03 and 2003-04 NBA seasons.

The Hall of Famer recently appeared on the "3 League OGs Podcast" with former Raptors Muggsy Bogues, Earl Cureton and Charles Oakley, where he opened up about his decision to leave Toronto as a free agent.

(Warning: Clip contains explicit language)

"It was so much [expletive] going on that last year in Toronto, within - internally, with Butch (Carter) and all the outside [expletive]," McGrady explained. "I couldn't stay there, bro. I had to get out. It had nothing to do with Vince (Carter), that had nothing to do with the city, it was just so much internal [expletive]."

In the 1999-00 season - his final year with the Raptors - McGrady posted averages of 15.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists over 79 games (34 starts) at just 20 years old. Butch Carter, who took over as head coach of the Raptors midway through McGrady's rookie season, was relieved of his head coaching duties after Toronto was swept in the opening round of the 2000 postseason.

Aside from internal issues with the franchise, McGrady admitted that Toronto was at a disadvantage during negotiations because he grew up in the Orlando area.

"Toronto is also competing with Orlando, you know, I'm from there, you know what I'm saying?" McGrady continued. "So my childhood growing up, I'm watching (Dennis) Scott, Nick Anderson, Penny and Shaq and them boys and that's where I wanted to be.

"Because, you know, that inspired me to be an NBA player - watching those guys. I only grew up 30 minutes from where those boys were playing at. So that was my inspiration to have an opportunity at that time to go and play home. That's what Toronto was competing against."

In the decades since, Toronto has established itself as one of the league's best-run franchises and standards of excellence under the leadership of team President Masai Ujiri and General Manager Bobby Webster. McGrady acknowledged that if such leadership were in place in 2000, he would have remained with the team.

"I'll say this, too, the infrastructure, what it is in Toronto now, had it been back then, there's no doubt I would've stayed in Toronto."

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