When you think of Jimmer Fredette and Stephon Marbury, do you consider them international stars? If not, you are sadly mistaken. These successful athletes made it in the NBA and then set their sights beyond it. We’ll pinpoint the moment each became a household name in one of the largest countries in the world.
Stephon Marbury’s NBA Career
The Milwaukee Bucks chose Stephon Marbury with the No. 4 pick in the 1996 NBA Draft. Then, the team immediately traded him to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Georgia Tech alum paired with Kevin Garnett as the franchise became a force in the Western Conference. Marbury was named to the All-Rookie team after averaging 15 points and eight assists per game.
After stops in Phoenix and New Jersey, Marbury became a two-time All-Star and made the All-NBA team twice. He moved to the New York Knicks and finished his career with a brief stint in Boston. He averaged nearly 20 points and eight assists per game for his career. At the age of 31, Marbury surprisingly set his sights on joining the Chinese Basketball Association.
Marbury becomes an icon in China
In an unprecedented move, Marbury went to China. Basketball had risen in popularity in the country due to Yao Ming, but no former All-Star had even considered going there. The seasoned athlete quickly became an All-Star. He cemented his celebrity status when he joined the Beijing Ducks and won multiple titles with the team.
Marbury became so popular in China that he had a play created about his life, and his image put on a stamp. These days you can find the 42-year-old acting or doing philanthropy. He’s become a respected citizen in China for his work helping fight leukemia. Most NBA stars would think moving to a foreign country is the end of the line. But Marbury made it work in ways that changed his life forever.
Fredette’s NBA career
During his time at Brigham Young University, Jimmer Fredette was one of the most productive players in college basketball. His brief NBA career included stops in Sacramento, Chicago, New Orleans, Phoenix, and New York. Fredette averaged just three points per game in his career. Then he had to decide whether he should take a minor role in the NBA or try his hand at basketball in China.
Revamping his game in China
In the two seasons Fredette played in China (2016 through 2018), he was known as the “Lonely God.” He averaged over 35 points per game both seasons and took home an All-Star game and MVP award. Fredette jumped back into the league last year with the Suns, but he put up just three points per game in 60 games.
So, should he stay in the NBA in a small role on a team bound to miss the playoffs? Or should Fredette return to China and make more money through endorsements and excellent play? We think he’ll decide to go back to China since the Suns have renounced the rights to his 2019-20 contract.
It looks like China is the better choice long-term. Fredette can theoretically play there for the next decade and find a place in the country like Marbury did.