FORMER NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury admitted three-year experience he had in China gave him the opportunity to re-start the button on his basketball career and his personal life after a tumultuous 13-year career in the NBA.
“Coming to China has been a blessing to me, humbling experience, and that has changed my whole basketball perspective and helped change my life,” Marbury told a select group of sportswriters on Tuesday at the National Press Club as part of his brief two-day visit in Manila.
The 36-year-old Marbury, who earned his first-ever pro championship with the Beijing Ducks in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) last year, is in town to promote his shoe line called 'Starbury' as well as basketball apparel, which he said are affordable to everyone.
Marbury said the China experience opened his eyes to the reality of how blessed he really was and how, with his influence, he could bring positive change to the lives of other people.
“The opportunity to play in China just came out later since I had taken the time off basketball for about one or one-and-a-half years. My dad passed away and actually, I was gonna retire. I got depressed,” recalled Marbury, a two-time All Star in 2001 and 2003, respectively.
“But I took a leap of faith there (in China). I was trying to establish myself in basketball and also with my brand. I wasn’t just gonna let it die because I wanted to build something meaningful.
“I had no idea on what has come about, no idea I’d win a (CBA) championship, get a statue. I couldn’t even dream about it,” beamed the high-scoring guard noted for his killer crossover moves.
Marbury bared his toughest days in the NBA took place while playing for the New York Knicks, supposed to be a homecoming of sorts since he grew up in Brooklyn, New York.
But he had a public spat with the Knicks coaches, starting off with the legendary Larry Brown and later, with Isiah Thomas. The Knicks and Marbury eventually agreed to a buyout of his contract, eventually making him a free agent.
On February 2009, he joined the Boston Celtics, where he averaged career-lows of 3.8 points and 3.3 assists in 18 minutes.
Marbury said the opportunity to go back to the NBA is always there, but for now, he said his heart is in China.
“The opportunity to go back to the NBA is there, but I felt China is the best place for me to play basketball. I’m loving playing in the Asian level and I’m doing something different,” he said.
Even at 36, Marbury said he feels he’s in the best basketball shape of his life, owing to the strict training regimen of Chinese basketball.
“I can play basketball for as long as want because I take good care of my body. Basically playing the game is easy for me because I’ve been playing for so long,” he said.
“With the new science of how to play the game, I’m aggressive and it puts me in a situation where I can compete at a high level,” added Marbury.