Former NBA strugglers find comfort in Chinese league
Updated: 2014-03-19 16:27
BEIJING - Stephon Marbury was repeatedly singing "We go to the finals!" on his way back to the vistors' locker room after booking his second journey to the CBA championship round in the past three years.
After leading Beijing Ducks to the Game 5 win over defending champion Guangdong Hongyuan in the semifinals, the former NBA All-star once again proved his value as the most important foreign player in the Chinese league.
Marbury, who had played for the Minnesota Timberwolves, the New Jersey Nets, the Phoenix Suns and the New York Knicks, has showed his adaptability to the Chinese version of NBA.
Marbury is the one and only. Most foreign players who found no place in NBA came to China to revive their careers, only to find it as much difficult to fit in.
Xinjiang's Lester Hudson, set to have a head-to-head competition against Marbury in the finals that starts on Wednesday, caught spotlight after winning the CBA regular season's MVP trophy. When looking back on NBA careers, Hudson and Marbury had a totally different path.
Drafted by the Boston Celtics as the 58th pick, Husdon was offered to play with Boston's then Big Four of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo. After playing 16 games, all from the bench, he was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies, for which he just played for nine games.
Hudson, having averaged 2.3 points, 0.7 rebounds and 0.5 assists in his NBA career, was waived by the Washington Wizards in January 2011.
In China, first with Guangdong, where he won the CBA champion ring in 2011, then Qingdao, where he led scorers with 33.6 points, Hudson got a home feeling across the Pacific Ocean.
After showing terrific scoring touch in Qingdao, Hudson got a chance to return to NBA from the Cleveland Cavaliers, which provided him with two 10-day contracts. Unfortunately, he still struggled in the top league.
Hudson is an example of success for NBA dropouts. Statistics show 29 out of some 40 foreign players this season, through draft or free agent, have relevant NBA backgrounds and all have played a leading role for their CBA teams despite their NBA records.
Those who have played brilliantly in the Chinese league might return to NBA as "fire-fighters", a 10-day player who can extend his short contract once.
Gerald Green is an exception. The former slam dunk champion was signed by CBA's Foshan in October 2011, but was waived after only four games. According to the club, Green felt difficult to fit in the team's offensive system.
However, after playing for the New Jersey Nets beginning from a 10-day contract, Green landed a three-year contract worth $10 million from the Indiana Pacers. Before this season, he was traded to the Phoenix Suns, where he played his personal best season with 15.6 points per game.
With a relatively mediocre NBA profile of foreign players, CBA might miss last season, in which Tracy Mcgrady and Gilbert Arenas reunited with fellow NBA All-star Marbury.
One thing worth noting: T-mac and "Zero Agent" were well past their best years when they joined the Chinese league.
CBA is a "feel good place" for these former NBA players who could hardly find as much confidence while in NBA. Plus, money is good.
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