Mar­bury in dis­cus­sions over ‘per­fect’ NBA end­ing

Ex-Ducks star speak­ing with fran­chise as vet­eran bids to bow out back home

China Daily - - SPORTS -

Stephon Mar­bury hopes to fin­ish off his bas­ket­ball ca­reer back in the NBA.

The 40-year old for­mer Bei­jing Ducks guard is play­ing in the CBA this sea­son for the Bei­jing Fly Dragons, and when the league ends in Fe­bru­ary or March he wants to join an NBA fran­chise.

“I’ve spo­ken to a team,” Mar­bury told The As­so­ci­ated Press in a phone in­ter­view from Malaysia on Wed­nes­day night.

“It’s still pre­ma­ture right now, but I’m open to com­ing back and try­ing to play that vet­eran lead­er­ship role.

“For my­self, it’s a per­fect end­ing be­ing able to mend ties. It will be a team that I will be able to help and I’m look­ing for­ward to it.

“It’s a great op­por­tu­nity at my age to be able to hoop. I’m thankful for that. A lot of peo­ple can’t walk at my age.”

Mar­bury, who first men­tioned his in­ter­est in play­ing in the NBA again on In­sta­gram, didn’t want to dis­close which team he had dis­cus­sions with.

“It’s a great op­por­tu­nity be­cause I was an­tic­i­pat­ing re­tir­ing in Bei­jing with the Ducks,” he said.

“It’s the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to go back. I want to do this for the peo­ple who had been sup­port­ing me for so many years.”

Mar­bury had a 13-year NBA ca­reer play­ing for the Min­nesota Tim­ber­wolves, New Jersey Nets, Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks and Bos­ton Celtics. How­ever, he hasn’t played in an NBA game since the 2008-09 sea­son. He av­er­aged 19.3 points and 7.6 as­sists dur­ing his NBA ca­reer.

He’s spent the last nine years play­ing in China, be­com­ing a ma­jor fan fa­vorite and celebrity as he helped the Ducks win three CBA cham­pi­onships.

Mar­bury met with NBA com­mis­sioner Adam Sil­ver in China last Oc­to­ber and has had pos­i­tive meet­ings in New York with the league and the Knicks.

“I wanted to make sure things are right be­fore I made that de­ci­sion to go back to the NBA. The tim­ing is right and the exit strat­egy is a good one,” he said.

Brook­lyn-born Mar­bury had a rough five-year stint with the Knicks that in­cluded clashes with coaches and team­mates. It ended with the two sides agree­ing to a buy­out in 2009 af­ter he was benched for his fi­nal sea­son in New York.

“For me it’s vi­tal to con­tinue to share my ex­pe­ri­ences and help the younger gen­er­a­tion,” added Mar­bury.

“I’ve been through a lot of dif­fer­ent things. Those ex­pe­ri­ences would be a great teacher for some of the younger kids.

“It’s my fi­nal year as a bas­ket­ball player and it’s im­por­tant to me to try and make that right. New York is home no mat­ter what.”

Even if he can’t get back in the NBA, Mar­bury plans to stay near the game. He wants to coach the Chi­nese na­tional team, and told AP last month that CBA president Yao Ming has told him he’ll be con­sid­ered if he learns Chi­nese. Mar­bury plans to take classes dur­ing the up­com­ing sea­son. He may also try his hand in the Big3 3-on-3 league.

One thing’s for sure. Whether he gets a shot again in the NBA or not, Mar­bury plans on re­tir­ing from play­ing bas­ket­ball at the end of the year.

“It’s time to pass on the shoes to my (12-year-old) son,” Mar­bury said.

AP FILE

Stephon Mar­bury, play­ing for China North, drives down court against Liu Wei of China South, dur­ing the CBA’s 2010 All-Star Game in Bei­jing. The 40-year-old Mar­bury, who will play for the Bei­jing Fly Dragons next sea­son, hopes to fin­ish off his play­ing ca­reer back in the NBA.

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