Stephon Marbury, the two-time National Basketball Association All-Star who’s now the starting point guard for the Beijing Ducks, said more U.S. players should consider coming to China as he hailed Jeremy Lin’s performances for the New York Knicks.
Playing in the Chinese Basketball Association has been “revitalizing,” Marbury, 35 today, said in interviews on Feb. 18 and 19 in Guangzhou. Marbury, who played 13 seasons in the NBA including five years with the Knicks, helped Beijing reach the playoffs with a second-place finish in the regular season that finished last week.
“You’ve got to be in the right frame of mind when you come here ’cause it’s something totally different,” said Marbury. “I hope more players come. It’d be good for them to come here. It’s an opportunity for them to have another place to play basketball other than playing in the NBA or Europe.”
Marbury has become one of the CBA’s most-recognized players since arriving in 2010 and has brought “credibility” to the league, said Benedikt von Dohnanyi of Infront Sports & Media. His decision to play in China is helping to “open the door” for other athletes to follow, von Dohnanyi said.
“He’s basically making a statement saying it’s not bad to play here,” said von Dohnanyi, the business development director for Zug, Switzerland-based Infront Sports, which provides marketing services to the Chinese league.
Marbury arrived in China after being told to stay away from the Knicks during Mike D’Antoni’s first year as head coach. The Knicks reached an agreement to buy out Marbury’s contract in February 2009 after he was suspended one game for what the team said was his refusal to play against Detroit in November 2008. Marbury then played the remainder of the season with the Boston Celtics before before coming to China.
Lin, D’Antoni’s current starting point guard, has helped the Knicks win eight of their last nine games. The Harvard University graduate’s rise from bench-warmer to stardom has been dubbed “Linsanity.”
“That’s great for basketball,” Marbury said of Lin while in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou for the CBA All-Star Game ahead of the start of the postseason. “He’s playing extremely well. If he can continue playing consistently the way he’s been playing, that’ll be great.”
Lin’s success in New York is also benefiting the CBA by encouraging more people in China to start playing basketball and giving other Asian players hope of making it to the NBA, von Dohnanyi said.
“I’m sure the NBA is not minding it either,” von Dohnanyi said.