Stephen A. Smith Confirms Sixers Nearly Traded For Tracy McGrady in 1999

Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady
Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady / Andy Lyons/Getty Images

As our sportless world marches on, fans around the world are delving deep into the archives to find more sports to talk about. One such nugget emerged on the internet a few days ago when an old Stephen A. Smith report was dredged up about how the Toronto Raptors came quite close to trading Tracy McGrady and a first-round pick to the Philadelphia 76ers in 1999 for Larry Hughes. They backed out after Smith broke the news.

Smith himself confirmed it was all true on Saturday afternoon, opening up the wonderful world of all-time NBA what-ifs.

Oh, man. Imagine the sauce in Philly with AI and T-Mac handling the ball? What an absurd tandem.

McGrady was coming off his sophomore season in the league and was still in the process of figuring it out, averaging only nine points per game in the 1998-99 season. Iverson, on the other hand, led the league in scoring that year with 26.8 points per game, but missed nearly half the season due to injury. McGrady wouldn't turn into the McGrady we all came to know and love until the 2000 season when he averaged 25 points per contest following his trade to Orlando.

Following that path of development, if McGrady ended up in Philadelphia, he and Iverson would have combined to average 57 points per game in the 2000-01 season, the same year Iverson won MVP and the Sixers went to the Finals. Imagine if Iverson's running mate was Tracy McGrady instead of... *checks notes* Aaron McKie? It's no sure thing that star pairing would have been able to overcome Shaq in his physical prime and an up-and-coming Kobe Bryant, but it would have been far closer than 4-1.

Now, all things would not remain equal in this alternate universe, even though it's fun to imagine so. To say Iverson dominated the ball during his time in Philadelphia would be a bit of an understatement, shall we say. His my-way-or-the-highway attitude may have rubbed McGrady the wrong way, although one would think if Iverson could co-exist with Larry Brown, he could definitely do so with another star player. We never really got the chance to see if prime Iverson would have been willing to defer if he had a teammate worth deferring to.

Knowing what we do know, the early years of that partnership might've been rocky. But if McGrady stuck around long enough for Iverson to realize he can't do it by himself, it would have been a back court for the ages. And definitely one of the biggest trade heists of all time. McGrady and a first for Larry Hughes would absolutely match Billy King selling his soul to Danny Ainge in 2012.