One of the league’s most polarizing and captivating personalities, Stephon Marbury made his way through Phoenix as part of an eclectic career. It ended with major success in Beijing, where Marbury won three titles playing in China. In the NBA, however, his seasons tended to end much sooner.
The point guard was an immensely talented player, but tended to clash with his teammates and coaches at every stop. He began his NBA career with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Marbury was paired with Kevin Garnett for a couple of playoff runs, but friction led to a trade demand and a subsequent deal to the then-New Jersey Nets.
In New Jersey, Marbury made his first NBA All-Star team. Again, his time with a team was short. In 2001, he was traded to the Suns as part of a package for Jason Kidd. Marbury would man the point in between the Kidd and Nash eras in Phoenix.
The metrics support the fact that swing forward Shawn Marion was the team’s best player during Marbury’s tenure, but there is no question that Marbury was the team’s biggest star. He made the NBA All-Star team in 2003.
By season’s end, his line of 22.3 points and 8.1 assists per game were enough to earn him All-NBA honors as well. The Suns made the postseason, but were knocked out in the first round by the San Antonio Spurs.
Marbury’s best years happened in Phoenix. There is not the sour taste he left behind at other NBA stops. Yet when the opportunity came to sign Nash in free agency, the Suns moved Marbury to the New York Knicks to clear salary. Being in New York boosted Marbury’s brand, but it may have killed his NBA career. His best days remained behind him from there.