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The catharsis from Houston’s advance to the second round was so complete, Ron Artest is considered a redeemed character. He can even make fun of Detroit/Indiana and be greeted with laughs from the mainstream media members in attendance. It’s that absolute. One player who is not receiving the benefit of past-transgression-removal, however, is Tracy McGrady. McGrady’s legacy involves never taking his team to the second round of the playoffs, and after Houston dispatched the Blazers, said legacy has only been magnified, while having an air of “See what we did without you!!!” added to it.

Before we solidify McGrady’s permanent playoff-failure Scarlet Letter, should something else be considered? The fact he went to battle last year against the Utah Jazz without the guy they call “Yo,” I mean, “Yao?”

Lest we forget, Yao was on the shelf — and resting for the Olympics — with a stress fracture in his foot during last year’s playoffs. That’s a pretty important piece to be missing when playing a team with Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer on the roster. Then there’s Ron Artest absence, due to the fact he wasn’t even in Houston last season. McGrady gets blame for not being able to do it all when his team is missing key components, but when a better version of the same team does what he can’t do by himself, his failures are still emphasized.

Maybe it’s just me, but a team with Yao Ming and Ron Artest in the line up, but missing Tracy McGrady is still much better than one with McGrady, but without an injured Yao Ming or not-a-teammate-yet Artest.