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When Stephon Marbury left the NBA to play in the Chinese Basketball Association in January 2009, it was generally seen as a case of a fallen star looking for the biggest available paycheck. Few thought he would last overseas, if only because the culture shock and different expectations can challenge even the best-intentioned imports. Yet Marbury has thrived — he's been a league champion, become enough of a star to warrant a bronze statue in Beijing, and approached the whole experience with sincere emotion and passion. His success isn't as glamorous internationally as if he'd done the same in the NBA, but it seems somewhere close to as meaningful for Marbury.
The 37-year-old guard now has another accomplishment to add to his growing legend in China — starring in his own stage play. Ben Sin of SI's Extra Mustard explains the play's concept and details:
Yup, tickets for the production "I Was Marbury" officially went on sale yesterday. The play will cover Marbury's life during the 2011-2012 Beijing Ducks season -- when Marbury led the team to its first championship over the Aaron Brooks-led Guangdong Tigers.
The play's director, Zhou Wenhong, told Chinese media that the main theme of the play will be "never give up" and will incorporate choreographed basketball moves with dance. Marbury, however, describes the play's story in grander terms, saying in a press conference the play focuses on "Sino-US relations."
Marbury will play himself in the production, but will only appear in a few scenes -- the story apparently focuses on other Chinese characters who have been inspired by Marbury.
According to the production's official website, the show will have a different guest star each night, including Yao Ming and former NBA journeyman Wang Zhizhi.
"I Was Marbury" — in the past tense for reasons I don't entirely understand — will run only 11 nights from Oct. 1-11, with tickets ranging from $30 to $270. In other words, the prices aren't that far off from tickets for a standard NBA game, although the play figures to include far more examples of basketball players engaged in choreographed dance. Plus, in keeping with Marbury's longstanding beliefs, it's sure to be tastefully done.
It's easy to glance at this headline and consider the whole story ridiculous, but Marbury has continually proven that his involvement in Chinese culture is serious. He has embraced the nation and its basketball future, becoming not just a star on the court but someone who has made genuine strides in building the CBA's legacy. This forthcoming play might not be "Death of a Salesman," but it's another part of Marbury's career in China. If he takes it seriously, we shouldn't consider the project a sideshow until it opens.
Until then, we can imagine specific scenes, with our imaginations setting the only limits. I'm hoping for a Yao/Starbury duet of "Anything You Can Do."
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