Former Trail Blazers center Jermaine O’Neal is partnering with Tracy McGrady to form a new player representation agency in the near future. The New York Times NBA writer Marc Stein spoke with both of the former All-Stars about their plans for the future.
According to the story from Stein, the seeds for the partnership between O’Neal and McGrady were planted at an Applebee’s restaurant in Portland when both players had just entered the NBA. O’Neal explained that the bond that the two prep-to-pro prospects share formed quickly.
“It was our first time sitting down and having a conversation,” O’Neal said. “For two youngsters to have that type of communication and chemistry, that’s what I always remember every time I come in contact with Tracy.”
Now over twenty years later, the duo is starting an agency titled Seven1 Sports Group and Entertainment, a name that represents a mashup of the numbers each player wore during their lucrative years in the NBA.
McGrady went on to detail that his partnership with O’Neal in the representation business is driven by the information gap that they often see in the players that populate their respective youth programs.
“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.”
O’Neal, who is in the process of getting certified as an agent with the NBPA, was open about the hurdles ahead.
“There’s no magic wand for this,” O’Neal said. “We’re not trying to say we’re the magic wand. But we’re going to be different. You can’t name another pair of people who have had the level of success and the ups and downs that we’ve had in our careers.”
Drafted by the Blazers with the No. 17 pick in the 1996 draft, O’Neal appeared in 211 regular season games (18 starts) over four seasons in Portland. He then went on to make six All-Star Game appearances with the Pacers after departing the Blazers. O’Neal last appeared in the NBA with the Warriors in the 2013-14 season.
You can read the Stein’s full story at The New York Times.