Post by Kenya Brown
October 18, 2013
The recent announcement of Stephon Marbury’s three-year contract with the Beijing Ducks, which came prior to the team’s exhibition game against Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid, really came as no surprise to anyone who has followed the league over the last four years. It has been the New York native’s ambition to finish his career in China.
In fact, if anyone has followed Marbury’s career since he joined the capital team in the 2011-12 season this is a just a sign of not only his commitment to the Ducks, but also a very strong commitment to the development of the game in China.
It is not often that a foreign import in the CBA has such a big impact on basketball in the Middle Kingdom. It is also rare to hear of foreign players staying in the league for such a long period of time. Former Guangdong Southern Tigers center Jason Dixon comes to mind as he spent several seasons with the southerners and helped them win five CBA crowns before he called it a career in 2009. So adored was the Liberty University alum by both the Guangdong staff and fans that his No. 15 jersey was retired by the team at the end of the 2008-09 season; only the second player after Yao Ming to receive the honor. Since then, he has spent time with the club as an assistant coach, helping with both the senior and youth teams on the individual skills development side.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are big-name players who came with promises of big-time splashes only to leave after a short time after, such as Steve Francis who arrived in the league with much fanfare, but fizzled and abruptly left after a few games. Tracy McGrady and Gilbert Arenas spent the season in the league, but neither really made the impact that so many thought they could.
McGrady, for his part, had difficulty winning games with the Qingdao Double Star Eagles as well as his alleged payment demands for unscheduled interviews. Meanwhile, Arenas’ injuries prevented him from having any impact on the Shanghai Sharks’ season as they failed to make the playoffs.
Foreign players have come and left China’s fledgling professional basketball league and some have left positive impressions even if they have only stayed for a season. However, it is Marbury who has had the bigger impact during his tenure in the league which has also seen him also play for Shanxi Brave Dragons and the Foshan Long Lions.
It has not only been his performances on the court that have left a deep impression on basketball fans, it has also been his demeanor off the court that has caught the attention of many. Whether it is taking the subway to practice, visiting sick children at hospitals or visiting schools to provide basketball clinics, the four-time CBA All-Star has done more than many foreign imports during his stay in China.
Marbury has also shown the qualities of being a great coach in future as he has taken up the role during the Ducks’ practices and games. This of course has to be a great benefit to the team’s head coach Min Lulei who has stated on various occasions that Marbury is “irreplaceable” to the team. There is no doubt that his drive and determination to win has pushed his teammates to do the same.
With the new season approaching and the Ducks reloading their roster with new signings such as Chinese national team forward Sun Yue, much of the scoring pressure will be taken off of the former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket. However, he will be on the court playing just as hard as he has in previous seasons as his team looks to add to the CBA title they shockingly won in the 2011-12 season.
While this three-year contract maybe the final playing contract Marbury will ever sign he will forever have a lasting impression on basketball in China. This will certainly carry over to when he decides to pursue a career in coaching and there will be no complaints from Ducks’ fans when he is finally handed the reins to coach the team in the future.
The bigger moment will come when he is able to finally achieve his dream of coach the Chinese men’s national basketball team.