Chinese Basketball Association superstar Stephon Marbury will be playing one final year in Beijing after all, just not for the team where he turned his career around, becoming an icon in China, but instead for their crosstown rival.
After parting ways with the Beijing Ducks earlier this year following six magical seasons, Marbury announced yesterday that he had signed a contract with the Beijing Beikong Fly Dragons (北京北控翱龙) to play out the final season of his 21-year career in professional basketball.
Marbury broke the news to his fans yesterday via a Weibo post titled: “I am back! My other home.” He writes:
I am thrilled to finish my career in Beijing. This is my home, my destiny . It was a long two months deciding where to go, there were other opportunities but it’s hard to accept leaving Beijing to play for another city. Through my two decades of my basketball career I’ve joined different teams. I’ve represented different cities, even in China. I had my stories in Shanxi and in Foshan; both teams treated me well enough and prepared me for what’s happened next. Finally after my landing in Beijing , it became home, a place I don’t want to leave forever. The way this city treated me and the love bond between the people and I make me fall in love with the life here forever.
As I said many times before, I want to live here forever. Today my wish came true.
Despite the fact that he’s now 40 years old, Marbury says that he still has a lot left in the tank and believes that the Fly Dragons will shock the league next season. The Beikong club entered the CBA as an expansion team in 2014 and so far have struggled to find any success, finishing with a record of 9-29 last year. However, the team hopes to finally make some noise in 2017, signing not only Marbury, but also CBA veterans Shavlik Randolph and Zaid Abbass.
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 championships (2012, 2014, 2015), successfully toppling the Guangdong Southern Tigers dynasty which had dominated the league since Yao Ming left for the NBA in 2002.
However, that fairytale run came to an abrupt end in April when the Ducks terminated Marbury’s contract, deciding to go in a different direction following a disappointing season. While the Ducks had offered Marbury the opportunity to stay on with the team as an assistant coach, Marbury insisted that his playing days were not over, wanting to play one more year before switching over to coaching.
Thanks to his play on the court, Marbury has become 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 to ever receive a Chinese green card. This year, he’s starring in his own biopic called My Other Home, chronicling his journey from the NBA to the CBA, which hits theaters nationwide in August.
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