It’s always tough
waving a loved-one goodbye, isn’t it? Watching them pack their stuff up and
leave- that bit where you hear the front door gently close behind them. You
sigh: it’s the end of an era.
After weeks of speculation, it’s been announced that Stephon
Marbury and the Beijing Ducks have arrived via a mutual agreement to terminate
the former NBA player’s contract. Marbury arrived in China in 2009, first playing for Shanxi Brave Dragons, with his once glittering career in the NBA in pieces and his reputation in ruins. However, Stephon Marbury does not let Stephon Marbury worry about any of that
kind of stuff.
Marbury, an honorary Beijinger, leaves the city a roaring
success: an icon.
Marbury's Beijing journey
Marbury landed in Beijing in 2012, signing a contract with
the Ducks. Success came pretty quickly. The experienced star inspired the side
to their first ever CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) victory in 2012, and
subsequently led the side to replicate this feat twice more in 2014 and 2015.
Marbury’s love for Beijing was always reciprocated- in fact,
Beijing fell head over heels for Stephon Marbury. By 2014, Marbury was made an
Honorary Citizen of Beijing. The following year, he was the first ever foreigner
to make it on to the city’s ‘Top Ten Model Citizens’ list.
The glory years
Some would argue the best way to show off your appreciation
of a leading sportsman is to write him a musical bio-pic. Let him star in it.
Tell the world his story. Project him like a rocket even further into the
dazzling lights of stardom. So they did. I
Am Marbury is a must-watch, dizzying piece of world cinema. An ode to a
legend. In the musical, Marbury reaches out to his audience directly, embodying the humble
modesty we have come to expect from him, muttering the hallowed words which we
shall all whisper under our breath in times of trouble:
‘I am Marbury.
You are Marbury. We are all Marbury’.
Some would argue there are better ways to honour Marbury- after all, he
received a permanent Chinese visa so he must be pretty great- and a huge bronze statue stands proudly at the Ducks’ stadium. Marbury ignited his teammates,
terrified the opposition and packed out the stands. So what do you do for the man who has everything? Why, set him up his own museum, of course!
Immortalised in wax
Head down to Jianguoumen Diaje in Dongcheng District and you’ll
come across the ultimate homage to our departing star, the finest obelisk
itself, the House of Marbury. There is a very good chance that the House of
Marbury is one of the most peculiar museums you’ll ever step foot in.
Seriously, go and visit it. Expect waxworks, childhood relics and and many, many commemorative stamps. But that's another story.
Alas, all good things must come to an end. Although Marbury
has reversed the decision to retire earlier this year, he is seeking pastures new. After
turning down a coaching role with the Ducks, an ageing Marbury leaves Beijing
in search of one final season of playing time in the CBA.
Thanks for the memories, Stephon!
Marbury stormed into Beijing six years ago. And
just like that, he takes off again: basketball lodged firmly under one arm, trophies,
stamps and the script for that cherished musical under the other. Our superstar
hits the open road, weaving the next chapter of his Chinese adventure. Beijing
will forever be a quieter place in his absence.