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Remember back just two seasons ago when crazy point guard Stephon Marbury came over from the New York Knicks to finish out the 2008-09 season with the Celtics? Well, it seems the idea of Marbury coming back has been tossed around thanks to a fan forum article on NESN.com. The article is all speculation of course, but could Marbury actually come back and contribute for Boston if something did happen? And, would the Celtics even want Marbury back at all?
Okay, I have to admit there really is not much to be said in this category, but just for the fun of playing devil’s advocate, let’s see what reasons the Celtics may want to bring back ol’ Starbury for one last go-around.
West’s broken wrist is a pretty serious injury that, while he has already had successful surgery on it, will take several months before he can even think of dribbling a basketball again. There is no estimated timetable on his return and all speculation has led Doc Rivers just to hope that West will be ready to go come playoff time. Marbury, a successful point guard in the past can come in and fill the role that the Celtics do not seem too confident to give to the group of Nate Robinson, Marquis Daniels, and rookie Avery Bradley. Robinson is more a shooter and should therefore play as a shooting guard despite his size, while Daniels has been Paul Pierce’s only reliable back-up and should not be counted on to come in for Rajon Rondo if needed to. Also, Avery Bradley is still very young and it seems so far that Doc does not intend to put full trust in the rookie to be a primary back-up to his All-Star, assist-leading, starter at the point. Marbury can come in and define the role that Boston had originally entrusted to West.
After his brief stint with the Celtics in 2009, Marbury decided not to take Boston’s offer of a veteran minimum contract to stay with the team for last year. He stated that he was going to take a year off from basketball and work on other business ventures. The other business that Marbury had to attend to apparently came in the form of crazy video blog posts of himself over the following summer, and a tour of duty with the Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons of the Chinese Basketball Association.
While China is not exactly known for basketball, with the exception of Yao Ming, Marbury put up impressive numbers still for a 33-year-old. In 15 games for the Dragons, Marbury averaged 22.9 points, 9.5 assists, and 2.6 steals per game. He also played in the CBA All-Star Game, where he contributed 30 points and 10 assists for the North team resulting in his MVP award for the game.
While Marbury may not be the best choice for the team, it does not seem like he could not ultimately hurt the team. Lets look at it this way. Marbury who was always known as a hot-head and trouble maker with his prior teams gave up that persona during his short stint in Boston. He became more of a team player, and although his numbers were not flashy he did contribute a few times. Marbury was a key player in a come from behind victory for the Celtics in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals back in 2009. His 12 points in the fourth quarter alone were able to push the Celtics to victory against the Orlando Magic. He still seems to have some gas left in the tank, and would not even be the oldest player on this already old team. Marbury would also fill up a spot on the roster that may force Avery Bradley down to the D-League. It’s not necessarily a good or bad thing for Bradley, who would get more playing time that he would in Boston, but most likely on a team where is talent would be beyond them.
Like I said before, I am not necessarily in favor of bringing Marbury back to Boston and here is why.
I might have said Marbury had some impressive numbers for a 33-year-old before, but remember I said I was going to play devil’s advocate with this one. Marbury will be 34 in February, the beginning of crunch time in the NBA. Can he still be effective in a league that is clearly way beyond what the CBA has to offer? During his time with the Celtics, Marbury only managed to average a lowly 3.8 points and 3.3 assists in 23 games during the regular season. His playoff numbers were not too far off that at 3.7 points and an even worse 1.7 assists per game in 14 games.
The other question concerning his age is whether he is in basketball shape or not. Marbury expected to start this season again with the Dragons, but the team informed him they did not feel the same way, at least with his current contract situation. CBA teams are only allowed to have two international players at the same time so the Dragons probably figured that if they could get Marbury cheaper then great, but if not they would go for another international guy. He was offered an assistant coach position with the team, but he also refused that.
Marbury had always been classified as a guy who had trouble being a team player. That seemed to change with Boston, until they offered him their new contract for last season. Marbury declined a veteran minimum salary and while he said he other things planned, I still feel that he probably wanted more money. He wanted more money in China that he did not get and elected to leave. Stephon just does not seem willing to be the type of player that can step back into a lesser role in order to win a championship. Boston was close in 2009 and even closer in 2010, and definitely on the right path to being a favorite team this year. The question is could Marbury see that and realize that he would have to come back to Boston and be a team player again with a lesser role? I do not believe he can, especially with the possibility of having to completely drop playing time once West returned.
Marbury was already a little strange while he was in the NBA as witnessed by the tattoo of his shoe line on the side of his head. However, once he left the Celtics he decided to take the crazy a bit up a notch. Marbury used the summer of 2009 to make strange video blogs for all to see on the internet of him doing pretty ridiculous stuff. From eating vaseline, to putting on white-face and dancing to Michael Jackson, and to crying in front of the camera for some unknown reason, Marbury seemed to have lost it. Whether all of Stephon is there or not for the NBA seems to be in question after that summer of blogging.
I am neither against or in favor of Marbury returning to Boston. It seems very doubtful that something like this would happen, but it’s something to consider. What do you think about the possible return of ol’ Starbury?