NEW YORK — Stephon Marbury hopes to finish off his basketball career back in the NBA.
The 40-year-old guard is playing in the Chinese Basketball Association this season for the Beijing Fly Dragons and when the league ends in February or March he wants to join an NBA franchise.
"I've spoken to a team," Marbury told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Malaysia on Wednesday night (Thursday, Manila time). "It's still premature right now, but I'm open to coming back and trying to play that veteran leadership role. ... For myself it's a perfect ending being able to mend ties. It will be a team that I will be able to help and I'm looking forward to it. It's a great opportunity to be at my age to be able to hoop. I'm thankful for that. A lot of people can't walk at my age."
Marbury, who first mentioned his interest in playing in the NBA again on Instagram, didn't want to disclose which team he had discussions with.
"The opportunity, it's a great opportunity because I was anticipating retiring in Beijing with the Ducks," he said. "It's the perfect opportunity to go back. I want to do this for the people who had been supporting me for so many years."
I'm making a #nba come back for the fans who want to see me play my last year as a pro. After hearing so many people say come back I finally prayed about it and gave it major thought. I thought the perfect ending would of been retiring with the Beijing Ducks but it's clear the GM had other thoughts which is fine. My love for the ducks will always be A1 from day 1. I still have a lot of go in me as a player and at 40 being able to play at a high level is a gift. Being able to stay mentally focused and physically fit takes a different type of discipline. I'm motivated to make this the best year of my career as I end a 21 year long journey in the game I love. It's been a blessing to play 13 years in the @nba and this year 9 years in the @cbachina China has groomed my game and my style of play. China made me sharp and consistent. We practice Monday-Wed from 9-11:45 and 3-5:45. Thursday one practice 9-11:45 and Friday-Sat same schedule as M-W. I thought I would die at first coming from the NBA where you can't practice that long before the season starts. Oh and we do that for over 40 days. This way of training can either break you or make you. I'd like to look at it as it made me. So I'm ready and prepared to take on a challenge I once faced but with chips under my belt along with all that has come with winning chips in China. Statues, museum, green card, Honorary citizen, ambassador for the environmental protection bureau, key to the city, only 30 people ever to receive the key to the city of Beijing and MY PEACE something no one can ever take. So with all of these things I feel complete and ready to turn towards the last page of my basketball dairy that I've been writing since 95 when I left Lincoln High. I thank all of the positive energy from all those who showed it throughout my time away from the NBA. Thank you for always keeping it 100. @stephonmarbury_3 @espn @marcjspears @nytimes @nypost @nydailynews @newsday @slamonline #starburymovement #starbuy #loveislove
A post shared by Starbury.com (@starburymarbury) on Sep 12, 2017 at 9:56am PDT
Marbury had a 13-year NBA career playing for the Timberwolves, Nets, Suns, Knicks and Celtics. The No. 4 pick in the 1996 draft, Marbury hasn't played in an NBA game since the 2008-09 season with the Boston Celtics. He averaged 19.3 points and 7.6 assists during his NBA career.
He's spent the last nine years playing in China and helped the Beijing Ducks win three championships. Marbury met with NBA commissioner Adam Silver in China last October and has had positive meetings in New York with the league and with the Knicks.
"I wanted to make sure things are right before I made that decision to go back to the NBA. The timing is right and the exit strategy is a good one," he said.
Marbury, a New York native, had a rough five-year stint with the Knicks that included clashes with coaches and teammates. It ended with the two sides agreeing to a buyout in 2009 after he was benched for his final season in New York.
"For me it's vital to continue to share my experiences and allow my experiences to help the younger generation," Marbury said. "I've been through a lot of different things, experienced a lot of different things. Those experiences would be a great teacher for some of the younger kids. It's my final year as a basketball player and it's important to me to try and make that right. New York is home no matter what."
Even if he can't get back in the NBA, Marbury plans to stay near the game. He wants to coach the Chinese national team, and told the AP last month while speaking at NYU that Yao Ming has told him he'll be considered if he learns Chinese. Marbury plans to take classes during the upcoming Chinese league season. He may also try his hand in the Big3 3-on-3 league.
One thing's for sure. Whether he gets a shot again in the NBA or not, Marbury plans on retiring from playing basketball at the end of the year.
"It's time to pass on the shoes to my (12-year-old) son," Marbury said.