Marbury helps foe
Updated: 2013-03-15 07:49
By Sun Xiaochenin Jinan, Shandong province (China Daily)
Advice from Ducks' guard has boosted Jeter's confidence
Believe it or not, Stephon Marbury has had a lot to do with Pooh Jeter's sensational performance thus far in the CBA semifinals.
That's unfortunate for Marbury, being as how they're on opposite sides of the court.
Inspired by a conversation with Marbury during last month's All-Star Weekend, the Shandong Gold Lions' US guard learned the key to succeeding as a foreign player in China.
"From my conversation with Marbury, I've learned that foreigners have to be able to teach the young (Chinese) players, be able to build that connection with them," the 29-year-old former Sacramento King told China Daily recently.
That mindset has apparently served Jeter well as he's led Shandong to a 2-0 lead over Marbury's Beijing Ducks in the best-of-five series.
Jeter has posted back-to-back 30-point performances, and worked well with his Chinese teammates.
"My job being a point guard is all about teaching," Jeter said. "Foreigners have to be able to come here playing to the best of their ability, and also help develop the youngsters."
Two of Shandong's best young players - Ding Yanyuhang and Li Jingyu - have benefited from Jeter's play-making ability, developing into the team's main weapons on the wing. Promising guard Sui Ran, who contained Marbury in the first two games of the series, honed his defense by guarding Jeter in practice.
"(Jeter) treats me like his little brother, and I respect him as a veteran," Sui said. "He passes his experience on to me in our daily life, and we often eat out together. Living and practicing with him, I have a model from which to learn and grow."
Shandong head coach Gong Xiaobin was also full of praise for Jeter.
"He's different from other foreigners I've seen. He isn't treating this as a stopover. He's tried to carry the team from the first day he arrived. So I trust him, and he's never let me down," Gong said during practice on Thursday.
With big-name former NBA stars drawing most of the headlines, Jeter, a veteran of the European leagues, came to China a virtual unknown.
However, he made his name ring out with a mix of scoring, defense and creative passing during Shandong's 15-game winning streak late in the season. The Los Angeles native has averaged 25.7 points, 5.3 assists and 2.5 steals a game, and was nominated as the regular season MVP along with eventual winner Marbury.
He enjoys being a low-profile, high-value import, and says he's committed to helping the game improve in China and blending in with the culture.
In many ways, he's the opposite of Tracy McGrady and Gilbert Arenas, big-name NBA players who did little to help their CBA teams improve this season.
"We like that, give them all the attention," he said. "Gilbert is (like) my big brother, but I don't care about him being noticed or how much attention T-Mac has. I only care if we win or lose.
"There are a lot of high-profile players. It's cool for the league. But are they going to come and help, not just with basketball but mentally? They have to show it. Once the Chinese see that, they will love you."
Meanwhile, his experience in Europe has prepared him for life outside of the NBA.
"The NBA is wonderful," he said. "You are given everything - maybe it spoils you. When you come to China or Europe, you will not have the private jet anymore, you are not eating the meals you are familiar with. It's a mind thing more than physical.
"That's why I think Europe has definitely prepared me for anything. I have really gotten more mature off the Europe trip. It basically built me into a way better person. I feel I could be in any situation and make the best out of it."
Undrafted in 2006, Jeter first went to the NBA's developmental league before going on a multi-year tour of Europe, where he played in the Ukraine, Spain and Israel.
A strong NBA summer league in 2010 earned him a contract with the Kings, where he played in 62 games. He played for Spain's Joventut last season.
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