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NBA star Tracy McGrady on his retirement: ‘I am glad I made the announcement on First Take

ESPN The Magazine cover with Tracy and Dirk.
Nov. 2001: ESPN The Magazine cover with Tracy McGrady and Dirk Nowitzki.

Monday morning on ESPN’s First Take, seven-time NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady announced his retirement (see video above).

Though McGrady is a fan of the show, it was an unusual forum to make such an announcement. How did it happen?

Last spring, First Take Coordinating Producer Antoine Lewis contacted McGrady about being a guest. But the swingman could not commit because he signed with the San Antonio Spurs after playing the bulk of last winter in China. Lewis continued to work with Talent Producer Jamila Phillips to reschedule an appearance.

Last week, the 34-year old and former No. 9 overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, agreed to visit Bristol — with news to share with host Cari Champion and commentators Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith.

“[Last] Thursday he told us he was going to retire and wanted to announce it when he came on the show,” Lewis said, “So our timing was terrific. We also wanted to discuss other topics with him, but most important, as a First Take team, we felt good about offering this kind of platform to an NBA great to cap his 16-year career.”

McGrady, who jumped to the league out of high school in 1997 and retires with career statistics worthy of Basketball Hall Of Fame consideration, says making the announcement on First Take “felt right.”

After all, watching the show is a morning ritual.

“Stephen A. and Skip are great together and make a good pair to watch,’ McGrady told Front Row. “I always get a kick out of their conversations. Cari is fantastic also on the show. She is smart and is a great mediator.”

What kind of response has he had to the news?

“I have been overwhelmed with support all day long since I made the announcement,” said McGrady. “So many people have sent me messages thanking me for what I contributed to the league. [It] blew my mind how much people really enjoyed my game. I always left it all out there and feel so grateful the fans appreciated what I did. I am glad I made the announcement on First Take.”

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