Bittersweet for McGrady

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

HOUSTON -- You never would have guessed it, but former Raptor Tracy McGrady played yesterday's NBA all-star game with the weight of the world on his shoulders.

"I've dealt with family members passing away, best friends getting killed," McGrady said this weekend. "This is a lot worse than that because it's a combination of things in different areas. I'm in a tough stage of my life right now."

McGrady, a member of the Raptors from 1997 to 2000, refused to reveal during the all-star festivities in Houston what his demons are, but somehow the Rockets guard managed to exorcise them long enough to score a game-high 36 points for the Western Conference.

"It was good to get out there and have some sort of mistake," said McGrady, who was in better humour after the game.

Despite his big game, the West blew a 21-point lead to lose to the East, 122-120, with LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers picking up most valuable player honours with 29 points, becoming the youngest MVP in NBA all-star history at age 21. James also contested a potentially tying jump shot by McGrady with 10 seconds left, which fell short. The game ended with Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers setting Vince Carter up for a final dunk with a pass off the backboard. Carter, however, missed a reverse slam.

LeBron credited the four members of the Detroit Pistons in the game -- Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace -- with turning things around for the East with their strong defence.

The game last night marked the coming of age for Raptors forward Chris Bosh, who played in his first all-star game. The native of Dallas picked up eight rebounds and eight points, more than meeting the goals he had set for himself.

"Just two points, that's all I want," Bosh said prior to the game. "I just want to get on the board, so I can celebrate or do something."

Bosh got his wish midway through the second quarter when he laid down a monster dunk and then completed the three-point play with a free throw after being fouled by Steve Nash.

The game finished what had been a whirlwind week for Bosh who, when not practicing, attended a number of meetings, lunches and family gatherings.

One function he didn't attend was a luncheon yesterday thrown by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. chairman Larry Tanenbaum, who flew to Houston on the weekend with two other members of the board.

"I committed to a luncheon as soon as I got selected (as an all-star) with my agent (Henry Thomas), and that ran over," Bosh said, explaining his no-show. "That was supposed to start at 11 a.m., and went from 12 to 2:30, so I didn't have any time."


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