Phoenix Suns fans will remember Stephon Marbury from his two and a half years with the Phoenix Suns before being sent to the New York Knicks.
For millions of fans globally, Marbury is now much more famous for his successes in China than his failures in America.
Marbury’s domestic career was interesting in itself: you can google ‘Stephon Marbury Drama’ and get a great start.
Despite his huge talent, ‘Starbury’ bounced between five teams and was out of the NBA by 32. While he could have retired to a life of reality TV, Marbury instead took his talents to China.
Now, Marbury has three Chinese Basketball Association championships and a statue outside the stadium of his team, the Beijing Ducks. He has been with the Ducks for 5 seasons after spending one season each with two other CBA clubs to start his career there.
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If you’re not familiar with the CBA, the numbers that players put up are insane, and it seems like it would be highly entertaining. The drop in talent level allowed Marbury to instantly go from a below-average NBA veteran to a franchise player in China.
Marbury’s stat line per game his final season in the NBA, 2009 with the Boston Celtics, was 3.8 points, 3.3 assists, and 1.2 rebounds. In China, Marbury’s first season stat line per game as 29.5 points, 9.5 assists, and 5.9 rebounds per game. All three marks would have been career bests for Marbury in the NBA.
Since then, he has won his three championships, had the statue built, been granted citizenship, and named a ‘top-10’ citizen of Beijing (seriously – read here if you’re skeptical). Going to China was a brilliant move for Marbury.
There were two big factors working in Marbury’s favor for his statue: he behaved himself well while eagerly embracing the Chinese culture, and he won. At the end of the day, Chinese basketball is just like American: if you win, they love you.