Stephon Marbury has discovered something during his period away from the NBA, playing for the Ducks of the Chinese Basketball Association. He loves basketball again.
Stephon Marbury reinvents himself in Chinese league
Stephon Marbury never had an easy time in the NBA, which was a direct result of great talent destroyed by selfish and erratic behaviour.
Now, three years removed from his final, forgettable season in the league, Marbury has found in China something he never really experienced in the NBA: love.
Marbury became a sensation this season in Beijing as he led the lowly Ducks into the Chinese Basketball Association play-offs. When they won their semi-final series, he was so overwhelmed at making his first trip to a professional championship that he wept.
That was only prelude. In the final, the Ducks met the Guangdong Southern Tigers, the four-time defending champions, and scored a 4-1 series win. Marbury scored 41 points in the fifth game, then he wept again. "This has been incredible, it has been an incredible experience," he said.
There is an storybook feel to his unexpected rebirth, at age 35, in China. His previous two seasons with other Chinese teams were less than eventful, nothing that portended his evolving into a national sensation.
But just as he was about to be dismissed as a guy picking up his last cheques in China, he transformed himself.
He threw himself into the culture. He ate at local restaurants, took the subway and said he would learn to speak Mandarin.
The new Marbury does not extend to the United States, however. When Sports Illustrated requested an interview, he said he would grant it only if they guaranteed him the cover.