Stephon Marbury’s Beijing Ducks may have been sent home packing earlier than expected, but Marbury will be sticking around in Beijing to start another China career: coaching.
In an interview on BTV, the 36 year-old guard announced that he will serve as an assistant coach for Beijing as they prepare to participate in the 2013 China National Games. He will work under his CBA head coach Min Lulei, who serves the same position for the Beijing Ducks.
The National Games, which happen once every four years, are completely separate from the Chinese Basketball Association season. As a sort of intra-China Olympics, the National Games pit the country’s different provinces against each other in various athletic events, including basketball.
The two-week competition will start in late August in host-province Liaoning. However, there will be a qualifying tournament in late April for basketball. Guangdong won the basketball tournament in 2009, which was held in various cities in Shandong.
Marbury’s addition to the coaching staff comes on the heels of other big news this week. The Beijing team got a boost when it was announced that Sun Yue, who plays for Beijing Aoshen — a team that is not part of the Chinese Basketball Association — will be representing Beijing at the Games, in addition to several other Aoshen players. A longtime key contributor for the National Team, Sun will be one of the best players in the tournament.
The National Games, though technically centered around athletic competition are the epitome of not only basketball, but sports with Chinese characteristics. With the eyes of provincial governments focused directly on their teams, the Games’ main purpose serves government officials, who can be gain status and be promoted to bigger and better positions if their teams achieve good results. Though the Olympics trump all in terms of importance, the National Games is a major event and one that places great pressure on athletes to perform for the glory of their province.
In general, athletes represent the provinces in where they were registered as a professional athlete. For example, although Wang Shipeng hails from Liaoning, he was registered in Guangdong as part of the Southern Tigers and will thus represent them this summer. However, as provincial officials are always looking towards the next National Games, under the table agreements can be made between different provinces are not uncommon. Mengke Bateer, who is from Inner Mongolia and got his start in the CBA with Beijing, will be playing for neither team this summer; instead, he’ll be suiting up for Liaoning. Though not reported, it is speculated that his player registration forms were transferred over to Liaoning as part of the deal that sent Zhang Qingpeng over to Xinjiang three years ago. These deals are not illegal, but they part culture that make Chinese sports unlike anything in the United States or other Western countries.
The Beijing team will be comprised of a combination of Beijing Aoshen and Beijing Ducks players. Final rosters have not yet been announced and likely will not be made public until sometime in April.