“Starbury” shining in Beijing

By Liu Xin, Wang Yong and Li Shuo

 

Taking subway, watching Beijing Guoan’s football matches, and doing morning exercises in Temple of Heaven Park with Beijing citizens, the 36 years old Stephon Marbury is a basketball star, but also a local Beijinger now.

Beijing Ducks fans love Marbury because they find the New Yorker has become part of the city.

“People in the United States keep asking me if I’m going back to NBA. I keep telling them I don’t have a desire to play in the NBA,” Marbury said on his microblog, the Chinese version of Twitter. “The CBA is my home and what I love. I’m letting everyone know on my page now that I will be retiring in China. I want to hang my jersey up here.”

He enjoys his life in Beijing. “Both of New York and Beijing are my home,” Marbury said.

He has been able to distinguish unlicensed taxis from the regular ones.

In spare time, Marbury learned Chinese talking show, made Gongfu tea at home, and went to hospitals to express sympathy to the sick children.

Many fans were touched by Marbury’s sentiment towards China. Some Chinese netizens even compared him with Dr.     Norman Bethune of Canada, best known for his service in China’s war against Japan with the Communist Eighth Route Army.

His fans made a statue of their hero. And now the statue stands at front of MarsterCard Center.

“It’s a humbling experience,” Marbury said. “A black kid from Coney Island to having a statue here in Beijing is kind of crazy. It’ s still surreal to me.”

Marbury is dreaming of coaching Chinese men’s basketball team to play in the Olympics. “That will be the highlight of my life,” he said.

Now Marbury has started his exclusive weekly column in China Daily, called Starbury Daily. He takes advantage of this platform and his microblog to keep connected with Chinese fans. Now he has over 170,000 fans of his Sina weibo, one of the most popular microblog websites in China.

“History in Beijing has been written. We have to take it one game at a time in order to continue playing Beijing style basketball,” Marbury wrote on his microblog.

Jumping from last season’s eighth to the top of the Chinese Basketball Associational League, every Beijing Ducks fan knows that Stephon Marbury has made the difference.

The Ducks made history this March by winning the CBA championship which is precious for the capital’s team.

“That was definitely the best experience in my life,” Marbury said. “It was definitely something that after all that hard work for so many years, winning the championship and being able to raise up the championship trophy was definitely the best feeling as far as playing basketball.”

Nicknamed “Starbury”, was born in Coney Island of New York. He used to dominate the block courts in the city.

Marbury, played with Minnesota Timberwolves, New Jersey Nets, Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks and Boston Celtics in his 13-year NBA career, and moved to China in January 2010 and joined Beijing Ducks, his third team in China, four weeks before the season started.

With his extraordinary leadership in the court and easy-going personality behind the spotlight, he has earned praise from not only teammates, coaches, but also millions of Chinese fans.

Beijing Ducks head coach Min Lulei was more than happy when he commented on Marbury’s first match with 29 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists, “Marbury is the one that I am always eager to find.”

Marbury also helped his young teammates a lot in training and competitions. Zhai Xiaochuan and Zhu Yanxi, both rookies in CBA, played exceptionally well with great confidence after being coached by Marbury.

In NBA, Marbury was considered a lonely wolf because he always enjoyed individualistic heroism and ignored the strategies of the whole team on the court. He was also a trouble maker off court with his drunk drive and smoking marijuana.

In Beijing Ducks, however, Marbury transformed into a team player and a true leader. Now he’s in charge of organizing the team and is more willing to pass balls to other teammates.

Former Denver Nuggets star J.R. Smith, who played for China’s Zhejiang Chouzhou, also expressed his appreciation for Marbury after his team lost to Beijing Ducks.

“I take my hat off to Stephon Marbury. Great game! Great leadership!” Smith said.

Now, Beijng fans always cheered loudest for their hero Marbury.

Marbury has its own slogan “love is love,” which always appears in his microblog, articles and interviews. He explained, “love is the key to all things in life. If you give love, you will receive it. Love is love!”

Marbury attributes the success of the team to all the fans. He said, “This excellent beginning would have been nearly impossible if it were not for the help of our sixth man – the Beijing fans. They have given us a great deal of confidence because we feed off their energy and support.”

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