Tracy McGrady, Jermaine O’Neal Plan To Open Agency

Former NBA stars Tracy McGrady and Jermaine O’Neal intend to open a player representation agency this fall, they tell Marc Stein of The New York Times.

The duo plans to call the new agency Seven1 Sports Group and Entertainment. As Stein notes, the name is a combination of the two players’ jersey numbers as NBA players — O’Neal wore No. 7, while McGrady was No. 1.

According to Stein, McGrady and O’Neal are financially secure but have discussed the agency idea over the last couple years, with those talks intensifying over the last few months during the coronaavirus pandemic. The two former NBA stars view player representation as the best path for them to help young basketball players — especially young Black players.

“We think it’s needed, and we have a passion for it,” McGrady said. “We’re around kids every single day because we have youth programs. It just makes sense. We see the lack of information that these kids are getting, so we would be doing a disservice to our people if we don’t lend our expertise of what we know and help guide them. This is a calling that we have.”

As Stein details, the plan is for O’Neal to take the NBPA test in January to become a registered NBA agent. He would hold partner status in the new agency alongside McGrady, who would likely step away from his current broadcasting role, serving as the agency’s co-owner and as an adviser to players.

Many former NBA players transition into coaching jobs, front offices roles, or broadcasting careers, but the player-to-agent jump is less common. As Stein observes, B.J. Armstrong is perhaps the most notable former NBA player to make that move. McGrady and O’Neal acknowledge that it won’t be easy to break into the business and challenge established agents for current NBA players and/or top incoming prospects, but they’re optimistic their efforts will pay off.

“At the end of the day, they can’t get all the players,” McGrady said of those established agents. “Obviously it’s going to take us some time to get our feet wet and really understand how this thing works. But we’re not intimidated by anybody. We know there’s going to be a lot of people trying to poke holes into this.”

McGrady and O’Neal certainly have the NBA résumés to impress potential clients — while neither player won a championship, McGrady made seven All-Star teams, earned seven All-NBA nods, and won a pair of scoring titles in 15 seasons, en route to a Hall of Fame berth. O’Neal, meanwhile, made six All-Star teams and three All-NBA squads in 18 seasons. The two players also won consecutive Most Improved Player awards — McGrady in 2001 and O’Neal in 2002.

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