Stephan Marbury’s Full Court Press On China

By Noah Graff

One American is doing a full court press to balance the U.S. trade deficit with China.

Stephon Marbury, one of the NBA’s all time greatest bums and wastes of talent has gone to play in China. He’s not playing for a thriving cosmopolitan city such as Beijing or Shanghai, he’s playing for the Taiyuan Shanxi Zhongyu Professional Basketball Club, one of the worst teams in the league, in the podunk, coal mining city of Taiyuan. The entire city is covered by a thin layer of coal dust, including Zhongyu’s Binhe Sports Stadium, which holds around 4,500 people.

His new team, ranks fifteenth out of 17 teams and will have to win 14 of its next 16 games to make the playoffs. It is allotted $60,000 to pay two foreign players combined, one of whom will have to be cut to make room for Marbury. The team has mandatory 9:00 a.m. practices six days a week. The Chinese are known to emphasize unselfish, team basketball. Marbury is widely known as ball hog and first class jerk, to opponents, coaches and teammates. Not to mention, last year his skills diminished to the point where the Knicks bought out the 21 million dollars left on his contract. It’s addition by subtraction when you have a cancer on a team, who also stinks. Many doubt he will last a week with his new Chinese team. If history serves as an indicator the odds him lasting are poor, Bonzi Wells, another NBA player with a spotty past went to the same club back in 2008. He lasted 14 games.

So why Marbury there? He’s in a poor, remote, hick town in China that 99 percent of the western world has never heard of? Money of course. For a second I thought it was that he just fell off the deep end, which he may still have done. What else would motivate a guy like Marbury.

He’s going to China to promote his low cost signature Starbury line of shoes and apparel to the 300 million Chinese people who play basketball. His shoes, which cost as little as $15, haven’t been that popular here. I’ve never seen anybody wear them. He’s one of the worst athletes to aspire to be like, so it makes sense that no American who could afford better would buy his stuff.

But the Chinese don’t know that much about him. To them he’s just an NBA player who at one point was considered pretty high profile. If he can stick in Zhongyu the rest of the season, fool the Chinese into thinking he’s a great guy, his scheme may just be genius. And probably a screenplay will be written about it.

It’s a prototypical sports movie. Bad team brings in selfish, washed-up former star to play or to coach. Then they remember their love for the game and there’s magic and the team is victorious. Maybe throw in a Chinese love interest for Stephon. It would be perfect.

Question: Do you think he will last through the season? Do you hope he fails?

Source: Wall Street Journal

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