In an interview for “Real Sports With Bryant Gumble” set to air on HBO tomorrow night, former NBA All-Star point guard Stephon Marbury said a combination of his floundering basketball career, his failing sneaker company and the death of his father in 2007 led to suicidal thoughts in 2009 when he last played an NBA game. Thank God it never happened and Marbury was able to accomplish a bit of a basketball renaissance in China.
“I wanted to die,” Marbury tells Gumble, by way of ESPN.com. “I wanted to kill myself some days. I did. … It wasn’t about basketball. It started to become about me. Because I was that depressed and I was that sick.”
Marbury bottomed out with the Isiah Thomas Knicks and coach Mike D’Antoni who has since shown he’s not very adept at handling mecurial talents like Marbury.
After playing for the Celtics briefly in 2009, he moved to China to play for first the Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons, then the Foshan Dralions before finally landing with his current team, the Beijing Ducks. He won a CBA Championship with the Ducks in 2011-12 and in 2013-14.
He’s become so popular in China because of his basketball exploits, there’s a stage play called “I Am Marbury” centering around his life.
But before his second chance on the basketball court and with his “Starbury” shoe line, which had been faltering at the time of his exodus to the Far East, first he had to go through some dark days in America.
“When everything went on with the Knicks, and, you know, my father passed on, the [Starbury] brand was — it was basically losing life slowly,” Marbury told “Real Sports.” “And I was watching it. And I think that was hurting me more than seeing my basketball career going in the direction that it was going. … I was trapped in my thoughts. I was trapped in how I felt about how I felt I was treated. I was trapped with decisions that I made.
“To be told that you’re a loser, that you can’t win and that you can’t do this and you can’t do that,” Marbury told “Real Sports.” “Then to come some place without speaking the language with the cultural barriers, to be able to accomplish that — that goal was, is beyond anything. … I left one place where they was basically hating me. And I come to another place where they love me? I’m like, ‘Why would I want to go back to a place where they hate me?’ I mean, that makes no sense to me.”
With the ubiquitous presence of the Internet democratizing sports, and allowing anyone and everyone to sound off about their favorite players, sometimes fans forget that NBA players are people, too, who can hurt just as much as the next person. Yes, the media can make them seem larger than life, but at the end of the day they’re not basketball cyborgs — they have feelings, too. Marbury had to go to the very bottom before he could experience success in China, and that’s after making it out of the rough Coney Island projects where he grew up.
We’re really glad Marbury found more comfort and respect in China and was able to stave off what sounds like crippling depression. We always loved the former Georgia Tech guard, and wished him the best even as his play waned and behavior became more irrational towards the end of his NBA career.
What do you think?
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