Stephon Marbury: Global for the long haul

January, 7, 2011
1/07/11
11:42
AM ET
Abbott By Henry Abbott
ESPN.com
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New York magazine's Ben Sin caught with Stephon Marbury in China, and found the former Knick star had all kinds of interesting stuff to say, mostly about the expected duration of his stay in the People's Republic:
Just last month, Ricky Davis, Steve Francis, Javaris Crittenton, and Mike James were all cut by their respective Chinese clubs for various reasons. "Those guys weren't cut because they couldn't play," [Marbury adviser Cyril] White says, pointing out that Crittenton averaged 25 points a game with his club, Zhejiang Guangsha. "It's because those guys wouldn't, or couldn't, adjust to China. Steph is not making China adjust to him, he's adjusting to China."

Many see Marbury's China stint as a result of karma for a selfish athlete who burned one too many bridges with NBA ballclubs. It's easy to assume he's in basketball purgatory: playing for a salary that, by NBA standards, is a mere pittance (reportedly $25,000 a month) and living a detached existence, speaking through translators and eating hotel food on a daily basis. But Marbury argues that his journey east is less a last resort than a choice. Considering his uneventful integration into a role as a backup guard for the Celtics in the '09 season and a relatively injury-free past, it does seem possible that he could have continued playing in the NBA. And it's true that if he had to go overseas, he could have chosen to play in one of many beautiful European cities, where the cultural divide is smaller and the distance from home shorter. He's not trying to recapture his days as an alpha player: He's averaging a healthy but modest sixteen points and six assists a game this season while sharing the ball and frequently letting teammates dominate the action.

He says he simply wanted to go to China because he sees playing there as a smarter financial decision. ...

Marbury says he expects to stay in China for decades. He's got a new Chinese-character tattoo of his name on his left arm -- just below his famous "Coney Island's Finest" inking. "I'm not looking to come here, make a quick buck, and go home," he says. "I'm looking to be here for the long haul. I'm not expecting Starbury to blow up in the next year, we're going to infiltrate the market slowly. My kids are learning Mandarin; one day they'll be running this company."

Another important thing I learned from that article: Marbury's team is called the Foshan Dralions. Dralion = Dragon + Lion. Who's going to beat that in a fight?

Henry Abbott | email

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