Stephon Marbury, following his team's ascension to the CBA finals (Courtesy Xinhua)
Stephon Marbury didn't just win a Chinese Basketball Association title with his Beijing Ducks, but he's made that league's finals, and that in and of itself stands as a career highlight for the former NBA All-Star. Though Marbury put up superb numbers throughout most of his 12-year NBA career, he played in 18 total playoff games and never made it out of the first round while playing with teams that featured him as a lead guard. His 14-game, second-round stint with the Boston Celtics in 2009 (one that saw Marbury average just 12 minutes per game) shouldn't really count.
So it comes as no surprise that Stephon was overcome by emotion after helping his Ducks make it to the final two, dropping some teams featuring players with legitimate NBA talent, along the way. From China Daily:
"I feel amazing, I can't really explain the feeling. It's my first time making it that far in my basketball career," said Stephon Marbury, who almost delivered a triple-double with 30 points, nine rebounds and eight assists on Sunday to down his former team.
It will be the first Finals berth for Marbury in either the NBA or CBA. The 35-year-old couldn't contain his emotions, bursting into tears after the game and crying on coach Min Lulei's shoulder in the locker room. Marbury spent almost ten minutes leaning against the bathroom wall with his hands covering his tear-stained face before facing the media in a packed locker room.
It's been a strange but ultimately satisfying run for Marbury in China. Most thought the mercurial guard would flame out in the lesser league, away from the NBA lifestyle and pay structure, but he's soldiered on through three seasons in the CBA; sticking with the league even after failing to make the playoffs with his first two teams.
By all accounts, though, Marbury is in excellent shape, he's still dropping big numbers (though it should be noted that former New Jersey Nets washout Marcus Williams led the CBA in scoring this year), and his heretofore unheralded team has a shot at the title. Marbury has done well to make CBA All-Star teams, but that was always his reward in the NBA. Playing deep into the playoffs is something else, and that difference clearly isn't lost on Marbury.
Should his Ducks go all the way, it's going to be quite the scene. Have those cameras ready, please.
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- Stephon Marbury