Media & Culture

Stephon Marbury

A fallen NBA star turns his career — and his life — around in China.

Point guard, Beijing Ducks

Few Americans have their own museum in China, or hold a green card there. But those are just some of the wildly popular Beijing Ducks point guard’s claims to fame — along with a Stephon Marbury commemorative postage stamp, a Stephon Marbury statue, and a forthcoming movie starring Marbury as himself.

It all would have been hard to imagine in January 2010, when Marbury joined the Shanxi Brave Dragons of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA). He had lost his father in 2007, and his all-star NBA career had cratered; he later revealed having wrestled with suicidal thoughts. But his move to China proved transformative. Marbury soon switched to the Beijing Ducks and led the previously lackluster team to three national championships. (Chinese television showed him weeping with joy after the first.)

While the NBA has been popular in China for years — former commissioner David Stern famously sent VHS highlight tapes for airing on Chinese central television in the 1980s — China’s own league, the CBA, has been hindered by poor management and spotty play. Marbury’s sensational performance has given the league a much-needed boost. His time in China has also spurred him to re-launch his Starbury sneaker line at a price point that less fortunate kids can afford. “Now that [I've] lived in China for so many years, I've learned that shoes that cost $150 don't cost that much to make,” he told ESPN.

(Photo credit: Li Yiteng/Imagechina via AP)

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