Former NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury means a lot of mixed things to his sport. A leading member of the All-Hype squad for his generation, “Starbury” ultimately fell short of the romantic goal of reviving the New York Knicks — or New Jersey Nets — but he’s also defied most other expectations by making himself anew as a basketball hero in China.
Marbury has reached such heights of fame and glory in the Far East that he’s now starred in a musical there about his tumultuous life. He’s also led his Beijing Ducks to two championships. For all the strife and drama of his career at home, Marbury has been an icon of the sport and an unmitigated success abroad.
Not without great trauma behind him, though. Through a recent interview for an upcoming HBO special, Marbury revealed that he was suicidal just before he left the NBA. "I wanted to die," he said. ”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.”
The No. 4 overall pick of the 1996 NBA Draft, Marbury bounced around after a promising start alongside Kevin Garnett with the Minnesota Timberwolves, playing for five different teams before departing the league in 2009. While he’s often acted as a parable for how little elite talent accomplishes when accompanied by poor decision-making, perhaps the story on Marbury switches now; in his new confession, we see that he’s a central figure in a tragedy about undue pressure.
Marbury seems comfortable with his new life in China, though, and content to leave his past behind him. "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 said about looking back at his NBA career. "...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."
— John Wilmes