A Look Back at Tracy McGrady’s adidas Signature Sneakers
One undisputable fact: for one prolonged stretch in the early-mid 2000’s, Tracy McGrady was the single best player in the NBA. Some will argue that he and fellow High-schooler Kobe Bryant were 1a and 1b, but T-Mac had all of the scoring prowess, athleticism, and pure talent as Kobe did, only the Mac was three inches taller and arguably more explosive. In 2000, the legend of McGrady was set to begin as he was expected to assume the role of either Jordan or Pippen, depending on what Grant Hill decided to be. During that 2000 offseason, Orlando managed to wipe out the memories of losing Penny and Shaq by adding T-Mac and Hill in the same year – a formidable duo that would surely be able to bang with the best in the West. Sadly, Hill’s career took a sharp turn due to an injury, and T-Mac was left alone in a laughable roster of names that even MJ may not have been able to win with.
T-Mac got double and triple-teamed in every possession, and still won two straight scoring titles. He dropped 50 against the Nuggets, and still lost. He willed the team to above-.500 records, but never made any noise in the Playoffs, earning T-Mac the embarrassing “The Second Round Virgin” nickname. In 2004, he went to Houston to pair up with Yao Ming, but compounding injuries left T-Mac as a shell of his former self – albeit very effective on the offensive end. Eventually, age and injuries caught up to T-Mac and he went down the road that all fading stars go through (play on the bench, play for the Knicks, play for a Chinese team). T-Mac’s stardom was definitely one of the most tumultuous ones in the history of the league – so much that many forget his lifetime contract with adidas and his six signature shoes. We’ll walk through each one, detailing some notable highlights that have come forth with each of ’em on-feet.
adidas T-Mac 1
McGrady’s first signature sneaker with adidas came during a major highlight of McGrady’s career – the 2002 NBA All-Star Game. He rocked a flashy Silver/Black colorway, dropping 24 points in 23 minutes. The T-Mac 1 was released in a wide array of colors and PE forms and was without question one of the most popular basketball shoes of the year, but more importantly, they were getting more attention from Kobe Bryant’s signature line with adidas.
adidas T-Mac 2
The sequel to the T-Mac 1 wasn’t much different from the originator, but it might be the best T-Mac shoe ever. The overall silhouette was very similar, with Torsion System and adiPrene cushioning providing ample support. adidas did a great job at infusing the three-stripes logo (which is very, very overpowering) with the distinct design at the toe-box. The T-Mac 2 was also re-released in 2012 as the “Return of the Mac”, seen above.
adidas T-Mac 3
adidas didn’t mess with a working formula when they brought out the T-Mac 3. The embossed stripes at the toe were now moved to the medial sidewall, giving the lateral view a cleaner look – perfect for that sick alligator-skin and patent leather material. The most memorable moment that came in these shoes was undoubtedly the 2004 NBA All-Star Game, when he wore mis-matched patent leather royal blue and red for the game.
adidas T-Mac 4
Things change – and that’s the way it is. Not only were the shoes different, but T-Mac, who was clearly upset at the Orlando Front Office’s inability to send T-Mac help, was traded to the Houston Rockets – a franchise revitalized with the arrival of Yao Ming. Together, the Rockets surpassed 50 wins in the tough Western Conference, although a first-round Playoff exit was the final result. Any spectacular moments? How about 13 points in 35 seconds?
The shoes were a far departure from the first 3 models as well. The adidas T-Mac 4 debuted a unique lock-down system in which an adjustable strap was held in place with clasp at the heel. adidas’ HUG Systems technology allowed the 4 to be completely laceless. A 4.5 model followed as well.
adidas T-Mac 5
The T-Mac 5 continued the trend of new tech and design with the fore-foot straps and a slightly lower-cut profile. This design prominently featured Tracy’s “1” on the outrigger of the shoe, engraved in the composite material. We remember these in the Black/Red colorway, when McGrady posterized Shawn Bradley in Game 2 of the First Round Playoff Series.
adidas T-Mac 6
The final hurrah came in 2006, which signified the end of McGrady’s reign as an elite player. This particular model was certainly the least popular of the bunch, and his 2007 All-Star PE was something that looked better as an unreleased PE than on a store shelf. Something must’ve been right about ’em though – McGrady dropped 36 that game. This would mark the end of the adidas T-Mac signature line, but with recent re-issues of the earlier Mac models, who knows what other Retros could be in the works?