By JONAS TERRADO
Former NBA star Stephon Marbury said he no longer has the desire to return to the world’s most popular league while describing his ongoing stint playing professional basketball in China as more gratifying.
“I don’t have the desire to play in the NBA anymore,” Marbury told a handful of scribes during a Tuesday dinner held in his honor at EDSA Shangrila in Ortigas.
The 36-year old Marbury has been out of the NBA since 2009, but got a new lease on life in China where he led the Beijing Ducks to the 2012 Chinese Basketball Association championship. That success even led Ducks management to build a statue of his likeness.
“What I’ve done playing basketball here in Asia has been a little bit more gratifying for me opposed to playing in the NBA,” said a reflective Marbury. “The NBA, don’t get me wrong, it was great and it provided me the opportunity of playing many years against top talents in the world.”
“But being able to play basketball in China, I’m able to actually be a part of the development and growth of a league that is in the process of taking off and to hopefully be one of the guys that could lead the charge is like a fulfillment for me.”
Marbury was selected fourth overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in the talent-rich 1996 NBA Draft that also produced Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Ray Allen, among others. His rights were later traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves where he formed a partnership with Kevin Garnett.
After helping Minnesota to the franchise’s first two NBA playoff appearances, Marbury was dealt to the New Jersey Nets in 1999, before playing for the Phoenix Suns (2001-2003), New York Knicks (2004-2009) and the Boston Celtics (2009).
It was in New York where Marbury experienced hard times as the Knicks made just one playoff appearance and failed to live up to expectations under then-club President of Basketball Operations and later coach Isiah Thomas.
Marbury’s appearances in Manila and recently Kuala Lumpur for various activities and open business opportunities for his Starbury shoe business has fueled speculations of him playing for either city in the future but the two-time NBA All-Star would rather wait and see.