Stephon Marbury agrees to three more years with Shanxi Zhongyu

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marbury_china.jpgMaybe Stephon Marbury was offered a chance to play with the Miami Heat or maybe he wasn’t, but it’s all moot now. According to the Associated Press, Marbury has agreed to a three-year deal with his current Chinese Basketball Association team, Shanxi Zhongyu.

Two pretty interesting tidbits, though. According to Shanxi’s website, Marbury may only be asked to play for two of his three years under contract. During the final year, he may become an assistant coach, which is just about the most fantastic news I’ve ever heard.

Also, as part of his deal with Shanxi, the team’s ownership will create a company specifically to produce Starbury brand products, and open three store locations in which to sell them. Your itch to purchase affordable Marbury-spawned basketball footwear is about to be scratched, world.

If Marbury really does retire in two years, I wouldn’t say it would be a fitting end to his saga, but it certainly is a surprising one. As much as players like Yao Ming, Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, and even Brandon Jennings have come to symbolize the influence of the international game, Marbury provides an interesting look at the other implications of basketball as a globalized sport.

Rather than having foreign leagues serve as legitimate competition for prospects or even a training ground for the NBA, sub-elite leagues around the world offer an arena for past-their-prime NBA stars to still rule the day while bringing home a steady paycheck. The lights aren’t as bright and the money’s not quite as good, but somehow Marbury, as distinctly American as basketball players come, has morphed into a fan favorite in China. He’s certainly not the first player to make such a transition, yet his experience has to be the most surreal.

It’s a wacky world we live in, but this could conceivably be the path of post-NBA ballers for years to come. See the world, keep playing, keep making money, and hey, if you’re lucky, bring back your own defunct brand of basketball apparel.

Starbury is living the dream, even if it wasn’t his to begin with. Yet with no NBA team to call his own, this is who he is now. This is, somehow, who he’s become as a player. Marbury’s path from beginning to end may honestly be too bizarre to believe, but one day, when his playing days are finally through, we’ll have to make sense of all this. From urban legend to a figure of international import, Marbury didn’t go full circle. He created some new shape to travel, because as he’s made perfectly clear, you will not put him in the box.

Charles Barkley on new schedule: “These poor babies can’t play back-to-back games”

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Training camp hasn’t even opened yet, but Charles Barkley is already in midseason “get off my lawn” form.

Barkley — the man who can’t stand jump shooting teams, or analytics, or LeBron James asking for better players, or your newfangled technology — went off on another tedious rant at an SMU event Wednesday, this time about the NBA’s decision to start the season a little earlier and have fewer back-to-backs and eliminate four-games-in-five-nights.

Ugh. Like a lot of former players — and a lot of non-athletes, for that matter — Barkley is convinced his peak as a player coincided with the greatest era of basketball ever. Things were never better than the way they did it in his day.

Which means facts — like pointing to the studies that show players both are less likely to be injured and play better and more efficiently when rested — don’t matter. Barkley did it, so players now should have to do it. Who cares if all these packed in games can shorten their careers?

Then again, maybe a few days off would have helped Barkley in the second half of his career.

B.J. Armstrong, former Jordan-era Bull turned agent, told me last year that if teams and players knew in his day what they know now about rest and injury, you would have seen stars like MJ rest. Over time we learn more information, and the smart people and organizations adjust.

Barkley will make far more headlines over the course of the season, he gets paid to be brash, say whatever pops into head, and be generally draw attention to himself. It makes him entertaining, and that’s what Inside the NBA is about. But I will defer to Steve Kerr’s comments from last playoffs on all these old “get off my lawn” players.

“The game gets worse as time goes on. Players are less talented than they used to be. The guys in the 50s would’ve destroyed everybody. It’s weird how human evolution goes in reverse in sports. Players get weaker, smaller, less skilled. I don’t know. I can’t explain it.”

For a couple grand, Warriors fans can have Larry O’Brien Trophy visit their suite

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There’s so much money floating around the Bay Area right now thanks to another tech boom, this price almost seems low.

If you have a suite for the Golden State Warriors home games this season — and those are pretty much sold out, the Warriors draw big from the Silicon Valley crowd — you can have the NBA championship Larry O’Brien Trophy visit your suite. All for just a couple grand. From Gilbert Lee, via ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

The best part is it includes champagne… do you get to spray each other with it as you hold up the trophy? Now that would be perfect (goggles included, of course).

Have an issue with this? Why? To the victor goes the spoils. The Warriors may be able to sell this package for years.

Sixers new “Spirit of 76” court is fire

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First, the Sixers nailed the Nike “statement” jersey.

Now, they have announced a new “Spirit of 76” promotion, with seven tribute nights this season honoring the history of the franchise and of the Philadelphia area (and there is plenty of history to honor).

The best part — the “Spirit of 76” court with the bell logo.

Here is the promo vid

I just hope the Sixers team can live up to all the hype.

Wizards’ Markieff Morris to have sports hernia surgery, miss start of camp

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When the Washington Wizards open training camp next Tuesday, starting forward Markieff Morris will not be on the court.

That’s because he will have surgery to repair a sports hernia, a story broken by Candice Buckner of the Washington Post and since confirmed by Chase Hughes at CSNMidAtlantic.com.

While we don’t have details on the surgery, often recovery time for this is just a few weeks, and Morris could well be ready for the start of the season.

Morris averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds a game last season, and the Wizards offense was 5.7 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court last season. With him out, coach Scott Brooks can lean on Jason Smith or Mike Scott for traditional lineups, but don’t be shocked if he tries a little small ball with Otto Porter and/or Kelly Oubre at the three or four.

Morris also is in the midst of a felony assault trial in Arizona (one where he does not need to attend).