Stephon Marbury has one of the stranger careers in recent basketball history. He entered the NBA as an exciting young talent, but he largely underperformed during his time in the league. But he found a second life in China that has made him a different type of star. Marbury is now an icon in the country, to the point where his net worth is bigger than some established NBA stars.
Why didn’t ‘Starbury’ fulfill his NBA potential?
Stephon Marbury always seemed destined for greatness. He achieved that, just not in the way anyone expected. Marbury was so good as a prospect growing up in Brooklyn that he earned the nickname “Starbury”.
He was named New York’s Mr. Basketball after his senior year and was lauded as the next great point guard to rep the state. After becoming a third-team All-American during his one year at Georgia Tech, Marbury entered the 1996 NBA draft and was selected fourth overall by the Milwaukee Bucks, who then traded him to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the draft rights to Ray Allen and a future first-round pick.
Once Marbury arrived in Minnesota, he formed a formidable partnership with fellow young star Kevin Garnett. The duo appeared to give the young franchise (the Wolves had only existed for seven years when Marbury was drafted) the nucleus of talent needed to create a winning team. The initial signs were positive. Marbury made the All-Rookie first team in the 1996-97 season, and Minnesota made the playoffs the next two years.
But Marbury’s fundamental flaws revealed themselves in 1999. Amid reports that he was jealous of Garnett’s status and new contract, Marbury asked for a trade away from Minnesota.
His NBA career never recovered from this mistake. He played in the league for another 10 years, but he spent most of that time playing on mediocre or just plain bad teams (Marbury’s teams only made the playoffs three times during that time) and he developed a reputation as a troublemaker in the locker room, especially during his time with the New York Knicks.
By the time he fell out of the league, Marbury was more well-known for the 24-hour livestream he ran (years before this technology was used to help people work from home) where he cried while answering questions, and ate a jar of Vaseline. (He later admitted that he depressed and suicidal at the time of the video.) Something drastic needed to be done to lift Marbury’s image. He found his salvation in the far east.
How did Stephon Marbury become a superstar in China?
The NBA’s relationship with China is now very normalized. Players of Chinese descent like Yao Ming and Jeremy Lin achieved different levels of stardom in the states, and an offhand tweet from a famous executive can have serious implications for the league’s financial future.
But when Marbury announced that he was going to play in the Chinese Basketball Association, most people assumed that this would be a disaster.
Instead, Marbury became beloved to a degree that most athletes can only ever dream of reaching. After failing to reach the playoffs with the Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons and the Foshan Dralions, Marbury made history with the Beijing Ducks.
The Ducks won three titles in four years. The feat was so impressive that the team made a life-size statue of Marbury outside of their stadium. He’s become so popular that there is also a play, stamps, and a museum based on Marbury’s life and likeness.
Chinese fans love Marbury not just for his on-court performances, but because of his philanthropic work. He helped raise money to build schools and fighting leukemia. In 2015, he was named one Beijing’s top 10 model citizens.
Marbury hasn’t stopped working for people since then. He recently brokered a deal with a Chinese supplier to bring 10 million N95 masks to New York during the coronavirus crisis.
What is Stephon Marbury’s net worth?
All of these actions have made Marbury a very successful businessman on top of being a great player. His net worth is reportedly $60 million. That number equals the net worth of Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo, and is more than several established stars like Jimmy Butler. It’s an incredible achievement considering how low Marbury was when he left America a decade ago.
He’s become a better person overseas and been handsomely rewarded for it. Marbury’s success shows that happiness and a sense of fulfillment can come from very surprising places.