From NBA bad boy to the mainland’s main man – watch the story of Stephon Marbury’s remarkable reinvention in China
An action-packed eight years have made for excellent viewing – on and off the court
Stephon Marbury’s basketball career ended in tears. Just not the kind people in the NBA expected it to when he moved to China eight years ago.
The 40-year-old signed off from a 22-year pro ball career with 20 points in 38 minutes to help his team to a 104-92 win over Jiangsu Nangang Dragons – his last action nailing a three-pointer.
The man known as Starbury retires a hero for his on-court exploits, with three Chinese Basketball Association titles for Beijing Ducks to his name, but it is off the court where his time in China has been most extraordinary.
Stephon Marbury bowed to Chinese fans with tears after his last match in China. Farewell 'Political Commissar Ma' as the everlasting Chinese basketball legendary. As Yao Ming, Stephon Marbury will play as an ambassador in Sino-American basketball relationship in the future. pic.twitter.com/5aJ1ey0uVh
— Titan Sports Plus (@titan_plus) 11 February 2018
Eight years ago Marbury was the first star player to leave the NBA for the Chinese Basketball Association and the only one to stay.
When he arrived in China in 2010 to play for the Shanxi Brave Lions, nobody could have foreseen what was to come and no one would have expected him to be here for all that time.
— I AM PEACE STAR (@StarburyMarbury) 26 June 2014
Three teams, several hundred games and thousands of points later the former NBA bad boy, a player whose 14-year career in the big league ended after he had fallen out with his hometown New York Knicks and then rejected a contract from the Boston Celtics – among a wider series of bizarre incidents – would become the most successful import in all Chinese sports and arguably the most famous foreigner in the country.
As odd as that sounds, that’s exactly what happened.
No. 3 Stephon Marbury ends his basketball journey with a 3. And a win. pic.twitter.com/dIScfEZJBN
— LI Shuangfu (@LiShuangfu) 11 February 2018
Marbury went from lighting up the Eastern Conference to being the torch-bearer for basketball in the East – or as he calls it “The Far Eastern Conference” – and his adventures have been every inch as unusual as when he broke down on a live stream eating Vaseline back in his NBA days.
The last of the much-vaunted 1996 draft class to still be pounding the boards, he has a strong claim to be the next of them to enter the basketball Hall of Fame.
A post shared by Starbury.com (@starburymarbury) on Sep 17, 2017 at 9:26pm PDT
Starbury has continued to make headlines in China, albeit for very different reasons to those in his younger days.
It all started with his first CBA Championship with the Beijing Ducks, which earned him a statue outside the team’s Wukesong Arena.
My man I think I have to refresh your memory. The visual says it all.:.. I've done enough in basketball. New goals! pic.twitter.com/Kfzm80onRu
— I AM PEACE STAR (@StarburyMarbury) 8 October 2015
And then he got another one outside their training ground.
— I AM PEACE STAR (@StarburyMarbury) 14 May 2015
He ended up on bank cards.
Picture this being on Money in foreign land. Thankful to God for all that’s given. Thank you Beijing Rural Commerical Bank for placing my image on a credit card. The longer you remain positive, the stronger you become. Positivity on the inside leads to real, meaningful success on the outside. #loveislove #starbury #happythanksgiving
A post shared by Starbury.com (@starburymarbury) on Nov 23, 2017 at 9:56pm PST
He relaunched his cut-price shoe brand, Starbury.
The truth defends itself. I'm not who they said I was. Deeply humbled and blessed to launch at my own museum. pic.twitter.com/Zg8wdblmKc
— I AM PEACE STAR (@StarburyMarbury) 29 July 2016
He was given the key to the city of Beijing for winning the side’s second CBA championship. He was also named one of the capital’s 10 model citizens that year.
A post shared by Starbury.com (@starburymarbury) on Apr 5, 2014 at 8:20pm PDT
He got his own museum. Yao Ming doesn’t even have a museum in China.
— I AM PEACE STAR (@StarburyMarbury) 21 December 2015
He became a Beijing Guoan fan way before most people were into the Chinese Super League.
A post shared by Starbury.com (@starburymarbury) on Sep 20, 2014 at 7:40pm PDT
He wore a tux on court.
— I AM PEACE STAR (@StarburyMarbury) 27 October 2016
His face ended up on stamps you could actually use to “mail packages anywhere in the world”.
He embraced bike sharing.
— I AM PEACE STAR (@StarburyMarbury) 13 June 2017
He won a best new actor award for playing himself in his feature film debut, My Other Home. Playing himself.
— I AM PEACE STAR (@StarburyMarbury) 24 June 2017
He also starred in the hit musical I Was Marbury.
Mentioned as a potential China coach as early as 2013 by media and fans, the possibility has been touted by Marbury himself, who wants to give back to his adopted home. He might come to pay for doing this to Yao Ming.
Now the head of the Chinese Basketball Association, Yao would be Marbury’s boss at the national team and he hasn’t forgotten his “most embarrassing moment” in the NBA – not least because Shaquille O’Neal pointed it out when they were on ESPN ahead of their Hall of Fame inductions.
And the time he sang on the Spring Festival Gala. In Mandarin. To an audience of somewhere close to a billion.
He was involved in a CBA All-Star Game in 2012 that was a pretty bad advert for the league.
He bought a Chinese Arena Football League team, the Beijing Lions.
— I AM PEACE STAR (@StarburyMarbury) 21 October 2017
He won China and he documented it all on social media.
A post shared by Starbury.com (@starburymarbury) on Apr 3, 2015 at 10:23pm PDT