Marbury Watch: Makes Debut In China, Team Loses (Of Course)

Published on: 1st February, 2010


Marbury Watch: Makes Debut In China, Team Loses (Of Course)  | read this item

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Stephon Marbury made his debut Sunday with team Shanxi Zhongyu in a game against the Dongguan Marco Polo, but hardly any fans could see it.

Despite welcoming the biggest NBA star ever to join the Chinese Basketball Association, the state-run league and China Central Television’s CCTV-5 sports channel didn’t fully exploit his first appearance because a game with bigger stakes between the Bayi Rockets and Zhejiang Guangsha was on at the same time (Marbury’s new team has only won four games this season, making them one of the worst teams in the league).

Viewers did get to see “Ma bu li” stretching during breaks in the Bayi game, and then to watch the tail end of it as Zhongyu lost 102-101. Chinese announcers talked at length about whether the two-time NBA All-Star, once again wearing No. 33 as he did with the New Jersey Nets, looked like he had physically recovered from his time away from professional basketball and the move to China, and noted that it seemed like tense conversations during timeouts were taking extra-long because of the translation process.

Marbury told reporters when he first arrived last week that he intended to play this weekend, but likely would not be playing at 100%. The point guard scored 15 points by the end of the game Sunday, less than his NBA 19.3-point-per-game average, and made eight assists. When Zhongyu fell behind by a point in the final five seconds, Marbury passed the ball to fellow NBA veteran Maurice Taylor, who then missed a buzzer shot (Taylor scored 27 points). After the loss, Zhongyu’s rank dropped to 16th out of 17 teams in the league.

Marbury’s Chinese fans weren’t thrilled with his performance, but many said it was understandable. In a (very unscientific) poll on, one of China’s most popular Web portals, 80% of almost 1,600 respondents right after the game voted that Marbury wasn’t playing up to his normal standard.

“Marbury’s skill was great, but the cooperation of his teammates was bad,” wrote one commenter on Sina. Others said Marbury passed more than they would have liked—one user going by “neo_liu” said “Marbury was not in his usual form…for the last shot, he passed the ball to Taylor with only two second left. How could the ball make it in? If it were Kobe, he would have made the shot!”

In response to the criticisms, some fans like “Jordon Yue” urged others to be patient. “Marbury still needs time, cheer up!” he wrote.

On his microblog, Marbury was apologetic. “im sorry about the game last night. i wish we would have won for you guys. i will get better every game, i promise. i hope all is well with you guys and thanks for the support last night.”

–Loretta Chao and Sue Feng

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