: If the losing continues -- and there is no reason to suggest otherwise -- it will become an anchor this season to Tracy McGrady, whose status as an NBA superstar already is sinking.
Even when this streak eventually ends, McGrady can say goodbye to his perch as one of the top five players in the league unless he leads a miraculous turnaround.
"After three great years for me personally, this fourth year has been freaking miserable, for me and the team," he said this week. "When you don't win games, everything crumbles around you."
"We live in a society where it all comes down to winning and losing," said Magic teammate Grant Hill.
"To be honest, I really don't care about first team, second team, third team, whatever. I've been there," McGrady said. "I just want to start getting wins. And when you win, everything else takes care of itself. That's the way it should be."
It was a lack of winning last season that prevented McGrady from seriously challenging Duncan in the MVP balloting. Even though he led the league in scoring (32.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists per game), he finished fourth in the MVP balloting, saddled with a mediocre team that lost in the first round of the playoffs for the third consecutive season.
He overcame mediocrity to retain his first-team status last season. Overcoming a brutally bad team would be unprecedented. The MVP Award is chosen by the media. The All-NBA teams are picked by the league coaches, which is why making that first team carries such weight.
The first sign of slippage in his status began last month just before the firing of Coach Doc Rivers, who still is regarded highly by teams who will be looking for coaches in the future. National analysts began to question McGrady's leadership abilities because he couldn't end the Magic's losing streak.
The losing will be felt off the court by McGrady in endorsement opportunities, but that reaction will be more in the future. McGrady's jerseys are hot sellers, trailing those of rookie sensations LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. McGrady is ahead of Bryant, O'Neal, Duncan and Allen Iverson, according to an NBA report.
"At the end of the day, advertisers want winners," said Bob Williams, president of Burns Sports and Celebrities in Chicago, which helps match endorsers with products. "This kind of thing is a drag on Tracy right now. You can safely say that if he's on a losing team for a number of seasons, the impact could be millions of dollars in endorsement opportunities."
"I don't think he'll lose his popularity, his celebrity status," Hill said. "On one hand, you could say, it's just a bad situation, an unfortunate situation, bad luck, whatever, but winning still is the bottom line, and some great players over the years have missed out because of that."