Marbury refuels in New York
Updated: 2012-04-27 07:39
By Kelly Chung Dawson in New York (China Daily)
When the Beijing Ducks won their first-ever Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) championship title last month, star player Stephon Marbury was visibly emotional. Video footage showed the former New York Knicks player embracing his Chinese teammates with tears in his eyes, and crying openly in the locker room after the final game.
For a player who four years ago was being raked across the coals in the American press for indiscretions on and off the court, the win represented the culmination of a major gamble and two years of hard work in a country far from his native New York.
"I still feel the high of winning," Marbury said in an interview with China Daily on a recent trip home to the US.
Beijing Duck's star player, Stephon Marbury, is kissed by a fan at the airport on his arrival in Beijing from his hometown of New York on Thursday. [Provided to China Daily]
"That's something I'm always going to be excited about, because that was the first time I ever did that (win a champion). I remember every moment that led up to us winning, and it's something that I still think about."
Marbury was home this month spending time with family, shuttling his children to school and performing other duties. His children attend school in New York, where he grew up and where most of his family lives.
"I've been away for six months, and it feels good to be back," he said. "I've been missing my family. I always miss them."
Marbury's son will be entering second grade this fall; his younger daughter will be in the 8th grade; and his oldest will be a senior in high school. He would love to have his wife and children join him in Beijing, but he is reluctant to uproot them from their lives in the US.
"Everything is looking really positive for my future in China though, so the possibility of them moving to China is much greater now," he said. "I'm still figuring out how to position myself, but I know I want to be in China."
When Marbury first relocated to Asia, his future was far less certain. After leaving the Knicks amid rumors of scandal and feuds with coaches, he briefly played for the Boston Celtics before heading to China in January of 2010.
He initially joined the Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons, a low-ranked team (and also the subject of former New York Times Beijing bureau chief Jim Yardley's new book, Brave Dragons: A Chinese Basketball Team, an American Coach, and Two Cultures Clashing); in December 2010 he joined the Foshan Dralions, who, like his first team, also failed to make the playoffs.
Then, in 2011 he joined the Beijing Ducks. Averaging 27 points per game, Marbury eventually led the team to the championship in a win against 7-time champions the Guangdong Southern Tigers. In an interview with China Daily soon after Game 7, Marbury called the win "something special".
"I think that playing here in Beijing, the fans and the organization - everybody was so professional, and everybody wanted the same goal. That's just the way it was supposed to end."
Now, Marbury is in a position to look beyond his upcoming season with the Ducks.
"I hope to eventually coach the Chinese national team and help China win a gold medal in basketball," Marbury said.
"My goal is to continue helping Chinese basketball players to become better. I know they can play. They work hard, they know the game, they put in the effort. I want to help them move forward in the basketball world, and I think I have a lot to give. I also want to have basketball schools in China, not specifically a team, but a place where kids can go to learn how to play."
Some critics have suggested the CBA trains players too hard, stifling the creativity that has put NBA players in a class of their own.
"But you have to realize that the NBA has been in existence for over 70 years," Marbury said.
"China's league has only been around for 17 years. You can't compare them. It's just going to take time. The way the CBA trains players is correct, but you have to train smart. I'd rather have them start out working hard. Also it's different styles of playing - the goal in China has always been to help the country win gold medals, whereas in the US the (NBA) championship was always more important. It's two different vehicles, and, up until now, they've been going in different directions."
He garnered some coaching experience when he took charge of the 2012 North Rookie All-Star team during the CBA's All-Star Weekend.
"I think it's really important for me to give back to China because of how much it's given to me," he said.
"China has been nothing but great to me, and I'm forever grateful for how I've been treated there."