Marbury’s Excellent Adventure In China Continues

Former NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury has become a superstar in the Chinese Basketball Association.

Former NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury has become a superstar in the Chinese Basketball Association.

Snicker if you will. Scoff if you must.

But Stephon Marbury might wind up having the last laugh.

At a time when NBA teams are hawkishly monitoring payrolls and squeezing contracts, particularly those to which pricey veterans might have grown accustomed, Marbury has signed a three-year deal that might keep him playing to age 39, 20 years beyond the night he was drafted as the NBA’s overall No. 4 pick.

The deal, of course, is with the Beijing Ducks of the Chinese Basketball Association. That’s where the former Knicks, Suns, Nets, Celtics and Timberwolves point guard has thrived since January 2010, by which point the headstrong, selfish and occasionally wacky Coney Island kid had run out of NBA options.

From The Association looking out, Marbury has been in exile, still talented but not worth the headaches or the mismatch between his expectations and NBA reality. That he would head around the world, pursuing what’s left of his hoop dreams where a billion people don’t know or maybe care about New York point guard traditions or “Starbury’s” place in it, seemed to many stateside observers to be a proper come-uppance.

But from Marbury’s point of view, this is proving to be a dynamite third act. Last year, he led the Ducks to the CBA championship. He would have been named the league’s Most Valuable Player by now, except the CBA excludes foreign-born candidates.

And as Mark Dreyer of Global Times writes, the guy who teased (20.2 points, 8.1 assists per game through his first 10 seasons) but ultimately disappointed fans at four of his NBA stops at least (the Celtics were more meh for three months in 2008-09) has an entire nation’s basketball enthusiasts thinking big and feeling grateful:

When Yao Ming retired from basketball, the worry was that the sport’s popularity would wane. With Yi Jianlian unable to carry the torch overseas, the focus turned to the CBA and while it’s no substitute for the NBA in terms of quality, the Chinese league has definitely improved over the past few years.

Marbury should get as much credit as anyone for that ­improvement. He was here long before the NBA lockout forced a few players into ­earning a quick buck while US arenas remained closed and his ­public persona is so different to the one he left behind in the US that Knicks fans would swear you were talking about a ­different player.

Marbury is so popular there is a statue of him in Beijing, but he’s stayed humble and has even started on the road to coaching. But like the end of his playing days, it will likely be in China, not in the US. He’s already served as an assistant coach for the Beijing team in this year’s National Games in China, and has said he would love to coach the national side one day.

Imagine that. Imagine Marbury continuing along this maturity curve, making the transition from playing to coaching, maybe chasing Olympic gold for China some day and even earning a shot on an NBA team’s sideline. A whole lot of coaches we know would be muttering a hoops version of the frustrated mother’s creed (“May you grow up to have children just like you one day”). But there Marbury would be, all the same.

Meanwhile, here at HTB, we’d still be trying to get our heads around that “statue of him in Beijing” thing.

15 Comments

  1. Hero says:

    Stephon Marbury should have been in the NBA his entire career. He was healthy, talented, and a super star. Of all the franchises in the NBA, one of them should have put him on their team. Talented players like Iverson, and Marbury should be in the league playing and contributing to a team. We know they have egos…as every other super star has. If they didn’t like their antics, they could have banned them for one year and brought them back. Not ban them for a whole year. Exiling players like that is bad for the game. Especially when each of them has millions of fans around the world.

  2. Darwin Nealy says:

    A lot of of people fail to realize that Stephon Marbury is a natural 2 guard (shooting) not a point guard(1). He was forced to play out of position at the point guard position in the NBA which is not and never will be HIS natural position. Some players can adapt to playing different positions and some cannot. If he was allowed to play his natural position in the NBA he would have thrived a lot more in this league.

  3. justsayin says:

    So he plays for the Ducks? They should do an exhibition against the Pelicans.

    Or would that be ri-duck-ulous?

    (ducks)

    (I mean because of thrown balls, not… oh nm)

  4. Kei says:

    Nice to see him finally mature. Anyone remember those starbury brand shoes? like 19.95?

  5. Michael McBride says:

    Brutal allen, just brutal LMFAO.
    Good for your stephon, now I need to look up some of your performances! If he is big you would think iverson would be just as big, didn’t AI play cba ball too?

  6. Kajoeba says:

    I totally agree with TheRealDeal.
    At least Iverson performed on the court with heart and hard work.
    If Marbury had put in the effort, he could have reached Iverson’s level and beyond.
    Marbury had the hops, the vision, the technique to dominate the game, but was lacking the heart and the mindset to evolve and produce.
    Good to see the missing parts are finally kickin’ in.
    We’re not even going to talk about Glenn Robinson. :-)

  7. TheRealDeal says:

    In the mid to late 90′s the NBA, in terms of players attitude, went completely down hill.
    Rookies like Glen Robinson (No.1 draft pick – 10 year $68 mill) who wouldn’t sign a contract until he “got paid”, Allen Iverson and Stephon “It’s all about me” Marbury just to name a few came into the league with a bad attitude and a me first approach.
    Stephon could of played on a good team with KG at Minesotta. KG got the dollars, Marbury spat the dummy and went elsewhere. He then bounced around the league as teams like the suns, nets and knicks couldn’t/ wouldn’t put up with his bad attitude, shoot first mentality and large posse which apparently took over the dressing room at times.
    What annoys me most of all is the guy had talent coming out of every pore. He was that good. If only he played the game the right way (team orientated) with the right attitude. The guy had HOF type talent.

    • Chukky says:

      Great comment, except the AI part. Iverson was always a humble and simple guy, even though he should have taken practice seriously.

  8. allen says:

    for a long time china has dumped sub-standard goods on the U.S.
    this is us returning the favor.

  9. tay says:

    good for him. just goes to show it’s never too late to change your ways. nothing is set in stone and everything is in front of you if you’re willing to adjust your thinking.

  10. ken mclendon says:

    Happy for his success. Thought he got a bad rap in NBA, although he shoulda never left Minnesota

  11. Chris says:

    Maybe Marbury was just misunderstood as PG, and it took a better situation where he could e appreciated and appropriately coached to make a difference. He was ahead of the social media curve, and Drake (lol) before a lot of people. Even ahead of the curve going to play in China prelockout. Consider

  12. Good for him, my men T mac need to go back to china or Spain