AT 40 years old, Stephon Marbury shocked everyone by announcing he’s looking to return to the NBA for one last season. Marbury, of Coney Island, New York, is a two-time NBA All-Star but hasn’t played in the NBA since 2009. Instead, he found his way to China where he gained cult-status by helping the Beijing Ducks to three Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) titles. The city erected a statue of him after he led them to their first title. It even built a museum to honour him. Starsport’s KNG ZHE NG GUAN caught up with Marbury, who is in town with his new team – the Beijing Fly Dragons – for the Seri Mutiara Cup.
Starsport: Have you received any concrete NBA offers yet?
Marbury: There are no offers yet. My initial plan was to finish my career with the Ducks but that didn’t happen. An opportunity to go back to the NBA came along and, of course, the Knicks would be an option. I’m still a son of New York and it’s something I’m thinking about. I want to end my career playing in front of the fans who have supported me for 21 years.
Starsport: In the CBA you are the star of the team. Will you be satisfied with a reduced role back in the NBA?
Marbury: It’s more about me finishing my career. I’m still able to play and help whoever sign me up. It’s not about being the star in the NBA. I’m more keen on mentoring – to help the younger generation.
Starsport: How different is it playing in China and in the NBA?
Marbury: The NBA is the best in the world. You basically have the whole world trying to get into one little room. You’ve got the college players and the guys who didn’t make it previous years. So you’ve got to be really good to be in NBA. In China, though, the way players are groomed to be professionals is different. But the standard is rising. What I love about playing in China, though, is how hard it actually is. You’ve got to be well-rounded to succeed there. If you can’t score, then you can’t play in China.
Starsport: Coming back to the NBA, how do you see yourself measuring up against the best guards of today?
Marbury: Those who haven’t seen me play will probably write me off. They will say I’ll probably get barbecued by (Stephen) Curry or (Russell) Westbrook. But those who have seen me, know I can still play. I know I’ll be able to guard those guys, but I’m not sure if they are able to guard me!
Starsport: Will the NBA really be the last season of your career?
Marbury: It’s really to finish off what I started. I left the NBA when my career was at a low. I lost my dad and had to deal with a lot of stuff. It was depressing but I had to move on. Now I’ve put in the work and the consistency in a foreign country ... winning championships and it’s really a good ending for me. I’d also like to play the 3x3 since it’s now an Olympic event. We’ll see how things go.
Starsport: Any advice for aspiring youngsters looking to succeed in the game?
Marbury: You’ve got to stay true to the game. They’ve got to put in the hard work and commit themselves to their craft. You can’t play basketball and not love it. There’s always something new to learn. Even at 40, I’m still learning more about the game. The bottom line is, if you don’t commit yourself, the game is not going to give you what you want.