The Beijing Ducks have decided to part ways with the Chinese Basketball Association’s biggest star, Stephon Marbury, after the two sides were unable to reach an agreement on Starbury’s future.
The 40-year-old former NBA All-Star had a contract with Beijing for the next season that included an unusual clause allowing the team to decide if Marbury — known to fans as “Old Ma” — would return as a player or as an assistant coach. Marbury has said that after his playing days are over, he wants to coach in China; however, he still feels he could play for one more year.
But, after missing the playoffs this past season, Beijing is looking to rebuild and didn’t want their aging superstar clogging up a precious foreign player roster spot. The Ducks announced at a press conference on Saturday that after being unable to negotiate a deal, they were going to terminate Marbury’s contract.
Immediately afterward, Marbury posted a letter to his fans on Weibo in both English and Chinese explaining why he had rejected the proposal from the team that had made him an icon in China.
First, the team did not decide who would be the head coach, apparently the team is in a rebuilding progress. Coach Min who lead this team to 3 Champions might not be the head coach anymore which makes it hard for me to accept the offer of becoming an assistant coach.
Second , we did not make the playoffs in the past season, as a player who always want to win and work hard to prepare myself for winning, it’s very hard to accept the way the season ended. Though I am 40 years already, I still work very hard to keep my body right, I can still play at a very high level, I am sure all the fans could tell from last season I’m still capable of playing. I was still able to lead the team to compete, even with an injured leg. I pulled my hamstring at the beginning of the season and I still played and put everything on the court because that’s who I am. I want to play , I love to compete , I pursuit winning all the time, l love basketball because it’s my life, I still have a lot in the tank that make me really want to play for another year. I want to dedicate this last year of my career in the best way possible on the court for the CBA, then I’ll retire and work as a coach to help the basketball here for the rest of my life.
Marbury added that the club had also rejected a proposal where he would return as a player coach for the coming season, but have his salary cut by 20%. Now, he is looking for a new team to play out his final season on. Still, he says that Beijing will always hold a special place in his heart.
“I have not decided which team yet But there is one thing I’m 100% sure of no matter the team I play for the love between me and the club is always there, we will keep working with each other in the future,” Marbury wrote. “No matter where I am, I am a Beijinger. Beijing is my home forever.”
After washing out of the NBA in 2009 following a tumultuous career, Marbury finally found a home in Beijing in 2011. In six seasons with the Ducks, he led the team to three championship (2012, 2014, 2015), toppling the Guangdong Southern Tigers dynasty which had dominated the league since Yao Ming transferred over to the NBA in 2002.
In the process, Marbury became one of China’s most famous athletes and a beloved hero in Beijing where he has received the title of honorary Beijing citizen, his own series of stamps and even a statue outside the Ducks’ arena. Last year, he also became the first foreign celebrity ever to receive a Chinese green card.
But finally, it seems that the age of Starbury has past. Now, it’s Jimmer-time!
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