Was this a prelude to a second title?
Updated: 2013-02-20 07:51
Well, well, well, what do you know?
My Beijing Ducks teammates and I will finish the regular CBA season near where we did last year.
Heading into the 2013 playoffs, we finished in third place with a 21-11 record. In 2011-12, we finished second.
We are blessed to hold a top-three position considering the many tough challenges we faced this season.
Honestly, I've had flashbacks of some of our battles, especially the games my teammates and I lost.
It took us a while, but what we eventually realized was that every opponent brought its "A" game when it played us.
Every time we beat the 2011 champion Guangdong Tigers last year, it really boosted our confidence.
So, you can imagine how great we felt dethroning Guangdong in the 4-1 Finals series.
Now, it seems like every playoff team wants our title just as much as we want to keep it.
Rest assured, we know we have a huge responsibility and task before us in order to achieve our ultimate goal.
But we think we have a shot at winning it all again. We can only do it if we remain poised, like we did during the regular season.
Often we wore our game face and refused to let teams rattle us, even when we lost games we felt we could have won.
We knew there was a slim possibility we could win all 32 of our regular season games, but losing to teams with sub-par records was disappointing.
One thing I have learned from being a pro athlete for half of the 30 years I have played this game is that on any given night, a team with the worst record can beat the team with the best.
Sometimes it just won't be your night. Unfortunately, that was the case for us a few times this season.
For a period of time, my teammates and I even lost our swagger. I think it was because we were defeated by a few teams that were not playoff bound.
We lost due to a lack of effort and we thought we could step onto the court and automatically get the "W" because we were the champs.
That is never the case, and we finally learned the hard way.
We managed to pull ourselves together and do what we really know, and that is play Beijing basketball.
To us, playing Beijing basketball means playing hard, smart and together.
Every game in the CBA is intense. Every game counts, which is why there is little room for error.
In the final stretch of the regular season, thankfully, we regained our swagger and began to play like we know how.
When this season is finally over, we hope once again to be the last team standing and hoisting the CBA championship trophy!
Wouldn't that be a stamp of approval my Beijing people? Stay tuned.
Love is love.
Stephon Marbury can be reached at email@example.com
(China Daily 02/20/2013 page24)