Stephon Marbury spent 13 seasons in the NBA from 1996 to 2009. Turns out, he’s interested in making it 14.
The former Phoenix Suns point guard, known as Starbury in his heyday, resuscitated his playing career in the Chinese Basketball Association after a tumultuous four and a half seasons with the New York Knicks and a brief 23-game stint with the Boston Celtics brought the curtain down on his NBA career. In China, he led the Beijing Ducks to three CBA titles in six seasons and became so beloved by the Chinese fans that he’s been given a statue, postage stamp, and museum — rare for a player from outside China.
But with the 40-year-old Marbury’s announcement that the 2017-18 season would be his last in the CBA, he sounds interested in making one final appearance in the league he left behind nearly a decade ago.
Write your own history! Never let circumstances control what Gods plan is for you. My goal is to finish strong with a team that can use some veteran leadership. I've been through a lot of situations in the game of basketball. I know I can help the younger generation like my vets (Terry Porter, Mike Williams, Doug West, Stanley Roberts and Googs) helped me. My #nba career was very Rocky but leveled out when I went to Boston believe it or not. Yes in that short time I grew faster than people could imagine through being in a winning atmosphere. Boston helped me win Championships in China. Walking into the Boston Garden seeing all of those banners made my thirst for victory a destination in winning. You never know where God will place you and when I was placed in China the process began. My story is uniquely complicated if that makes sense. I know there are questions and speculations about me playing in the NBA again. People will face a fact that I'm not the typical 40 year old basketball player because I took care of my body in a way that will allow me to do what my heart and mind desires. The best thing about the CBA is that the season ends early enough for me to play for a team in the @nba and then the @thebig3 possibly. I owe it to the people in #america who watched me play as a kid in the streets of #coneyisland This story is our story. I wanted to retire a Beijing Duck but God opened another door when this didn't happen. It was the perfect ending in my mind but what we think isn't always what will happen as God had a better thought for me to think. I'm gonna give the game all of what it's given me and that's my love and passion for something I've been doing since 2 years old. The story will continue and it will end with the world watching another baller ending a legacy for all to see. @stephonmarbury_3 I love you son I'm doing what you asked. I'm gonna dance one more time on the master stage the NBA! #starburymovement #starbury
Marbury is under contract with the Beijing Fly Dragons for the upcoming 2017-18 season, but since the CBA season ends early, he could join an NBA team in need of his services afterward. By that time, though, he would be 41 years old, and the NBA hasn’t been very receptive in recent years to aging players looking to latch on with teams for one final shot at glory.
That knowledge hasn’t deterred Marbury in the least, and his fans have already begun lobbying him on Twitter to choose their teams for his last hurrah, with the lobbying being loudest from his former haunts. For those wondering, yes, that does include Phoenix. And yes, Marbury sounds receptive to the idea of a return to the Valley.
For sure a destination https://t.co/WaDgbsqMut— I AM PEACE STAR (@StarburyMarbury) September 14, 2017
Why not? I love what Earl Watson stands for as a coach. https://t.co/dP3QWui6Ku— I AM PEACE STAR (@StarburyMarbury) September 15, 2017
Phoenix was the third stop in Marbury’s NBA career after being acquired from the New Jersey Nets alongside Johnny Newman and Soumaila Samake for Jason Kidd and Chris Dudley on Jul. 18, 2001. Over the next two and a half seasons, Marbury averaged 21.3 points and 8.1 assists for the Suns, leading them to the playoffs in 2003. He also earned one of his two All-Star selections and an All-NBA Third Team honor in purple and orange before being dealt to the Knicks in a salary dump on Jan. 5, 2004.
Were Marbury to return to Phoenix in 2018, he would be a vastly different player than he was when he left — and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. He had his demons off the court and had a reputation as brash and stubborn, with numerous clashes between himself and coaches or teammates dotting his NBA past. But while time has drained away much of his physical prowess, it has matured Marbury, and he sounds more than open to accepting a mentorship role on a team before he rides off into the sunset. Allen Iverson famously balked at a similar notion several years back, but Marbury seems to be embracing the role with open arms.
He filled this role in the past with the Suns, taking a young Leandro Barbosa under his wing in 2003 and helping the wide-eyed Brazilian adjust to a new, well, everything. It is not a stretch to envision this wiser, humble, and barrel-aged Marbury acting in a similar fashion for this new class of Suns players, only with the added benefit of a perspective few players ever receive.
Phoenix has shown a penchant for adding players to the roster more for their ability to mentor the youth than to perform on the court (Ronnie Price, Barbosa), so this can’t be written off entirely. However, the fit doesn’t look promising this season with Tyler Ulis already penciled in as the backup point to Eric Bledsoe and Mike James available after that. Still, there are worse ideas than one last tango with Coney Island’s Finest.