It’s always a nice Saturday morning when Stephon Marbury is back on our pages. It’s comforting. Like the crazy old guy at the coffee shop who wants to talk to you about how aliens stole his shoes. The New York Post gave Marbury a ring to ask him whether it would work for Carmelo Anthony or Amar’e Stoudemire to play in China. The former Knick and Vaseline-eater was highly suspicious of whether they could deal with the culture shock. Not from living in China, but from playing for a team there:
Citing the tough travel and rigorous training methods, Marbury said he doesn’t see the stars going to China, where the Coney Islander has spent the past two seasons.
“I don’t think those guys will want to go through it,” said Marbury, who is training in Los Angeles. “China is not for everybody — a whole ‘nother world. I don’t think they’re going to go there, not the big-time guys. Maybe they’d come for a little bit, but if the season is cancelled for the year, I don’t think they’d want to stay. They’ll want to go home.
“I don’t think Carmelo Anthony is going to run like they want to run in practice,” Marbury added. “They want to run you to death. The first time I got there, they ran in practice for two straight hours. I said, ‘Is that what we have to do every practice?’ “
Marbury overlooks a key element here. When Marbury began playing in China, his stardom was already compromised. He’d already jumped the tracks. Melo and Amar’e are both in their primes with powerful agents behind them. A desire to play in China would lead to negotiations which would prevent them from having to participate in the same kind of rigorous practice or deal with the same kind of hardships as the rest of the players. It’s not fair, but it’s business. As much as that kind of approach is built into Chinese culture, the superstars have too much leverage to be denied pretty much whatever they want.
Basketball is popular enough in China to warrant players of this caliber having that pull. Marburym may have had a rough time in China, but then, Marbury had a rough time in the NBA. Things work out differently depending on your talent and how you structure things.