Henry Abbott on Steph Marbury


Here’s a snippet:

My best guess is that Stephon Marbury never really got a chance to grow up properly. Like a lot of athletes, he was certainly undereducated. Given his active mind, he probably would have done well to have gone through some phases unnoticed on some college campus somewhere. Instead he went from star treatment at high school in Coney Island to star treatment at Georgia Tech for a year to star treatment in the NBA. The spotlight and its multi-faceted demands were always on him, and he never really got to try on different personalities for size. He had to do this and be that.

But lately, he’s not playing the peer pressure game any more. He has the sneaker thing working for him, and a dwindling on-court career that no longer needs define him. He’s free to be something new for the first time in a long time. And he’s throwing open the doors to new experiences, and instead of a warrior he’s seeing what it’s like to be a wanderer once in a while.

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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of KnickerBlogger.net. His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

18 thoughts to “Henry Abbott on Steph Marbury”

  1. Yeah. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Today the same press folks that gave him that superstar treatment yesterday are enroute to destroy him tomorrow

  2. Did I ever “give him the superstar treatment?” Am I trying to destroy him with an article that asks Knick fans to support him? Did you even read this story?

  3. I think you are spot on, Henry. It’s always interesting to see how particular vantage points can drastically change one’s opinion of players.

  4. Spot on Henry.

    Marbury’s doing what thousands of college kids do every year–trying to find himself. And even for those kids from the most stereotypically stable suburban homes you can imagine the process is often ugly. Unfortunately for Marbury it sounds like he trying to jump into that process head on with an unstable foundation and limited guidance while it all plays out on TV. Eww…

  5. Henry, take it easy – I think Win is agreeing with you! (I think you misread his comments and thought they were directed at you…)

  6. I’m with Chris on that one, i don’t think win was attacking you. Love Truehoop though. I think its kind of sad that a lot of today’s mainstream media build a player up, make him a superstar, and look for anything to bring him down. I almost feel like every modern athlete would do well to watch/read The Natural.

  7. Marbury brings himself down. He said he doesn’t care about a ring. If you’re not chasing a ring, then got off this team.

  8. Henry, some good points are made, though strictly from the point-of-view of how much this entertains and scares all Knicks’ fans at the same time, I’m crossing my fingers that he has depression. I know that sounds harsh, but I refuse to believe kids ‘don’t know how to go grow up.’ Example A) Kevin Garnett, Example B) LeBron…of course there are the others, but can we not just call them douche bags?

  9. What is of greatest importance to NY?

    Ask a child living in Queens what he/she needs and I doubt the words, “a Knick winning season” comes from the child’s mouth.

    I have been a Marbury fan since he was drafted. I grew up in Newark, NJ. I understand the difficulty of inner-city life. I always tried to see his point of view. And becuase he was never in serious trouble, I never had a real reason to call him a bad guy. I didnt think it was entirely his fault that his teams struggled. I dont blame him for the current state of the Knicks. I always suspected that there was more to this person. I feel that I have been justified in my defense of Marbury. It all started shortly after Katrina hit New Orleans.

    I watched Stephon crying over the situation. It really hurt him to see people, children especially, in such pain. I watched him pledge to help. He gave a million dollars to the relief effort. I was very proud of him that day. I didnt see a “sullen” “me- first” basketball player. There was a human trying to figure out how he could help other humans. I think this is when he started thinking about the Starbury shoe movement.

    Some people say Starbury movement is just an attempt to make up for the 23-49 season. I dont agree. I think this is a guy that figured out that there is much more to life than basketball. People need help, to Marbury basketball is the means to help people. Helping people has helped him gain perspective and feel happiness.

    Unfortunately we live in a country that does not value helping others. We value winning. People cant understand that Marbury has put winning in perspective. Winning a ring will not make the world a better place. Marbury acknowledges that and he is attacked for it. Lets just say that Marbury leads the Knicks to a title. Will that improve the life of a child in the Bronx that cant afford quality shoes, school books, or even a haircut before school? No, it will not. But Marbury has decided that the needs of that child are of greater importance than winning a ring. Marbury has tried to give those children schoo supplies, quality clothing, and haircuts. He is also teaching them that they have a duty to give, to help those in need. I agree.

    People want Marbury and the Knicks to do well for very selfish reasons. We want a winning team, we want to brag. What we SHOUld be doing is trying to find a way to help other people the way Marbury has tried to help. We need to gain persective as Marbury has done. We are so jaded that we demand the trade of a guy that honestly cares about our community. We would rather have two title banners than see kids get school books. I dont care what he does on the court, we need a man like Marbury in NY.

  10. Mr. Black – I agree with you for the most part regarding Marbury. I don’t think that he is a bad person; I think that he has done some bad things but at least he is trying to do some good in the world, which is more than I can say about a most of the people I encounter on a daily basis, and without knowing him personally it does seem as though his intentions are pure in these endeavors.

    However, I disagree that Marbury should be given a pass for saying that winning a ring is not important, simply because that is his job. He is paid to win basketball games and win championships and as the player on the team with the highest profile he is a spokesperson for the organization. Whether he believes it or not, coming out and saying that he doesn’t care about the performance of his company is a bad move for any employee and he deserves criticism for it.

  11. To xduckshoex:
    Very thoughtful and fair post. Your point is well taken. May i offer this:

    The “job” of all human beings is to help each other. Everthing else is a hobby. I have a two year old boy. I work at a large DC law firm. I care about my child’s happiness. Compared to my son, I dont care about my firm. It is all a matter of perspective. I cant use the same words to describe my feelings for my job as I do my job. I think it insults my son. I think Marbury shares that perspective. If the senoir partner came into my office right now and asked if care about this firm. My answer is: “I want the firm to do well, but all my caring belongs to my family.” Of course if the senior partner came in right now he might be more concerned with why i am typing about the Knicks instead of billing clients.

    Marbury is expressing a part of Zen philosophy, that being, desire of a thing is the root of suffering. Zen teaches that we accomplish things by first improving ourselves. The focus is not on material gain (in the case of basketball, a ring). The focus becomes self improvement. As you concentrate on self improvement, success generally follows. You win because you improve yourself. You may even improve yourself to the point that you do win the ring. But you won because self improvement was the focus, not the ring. Working for a ring only makes you good enough to gain the ring. But self improvement makes you good enough to accomplish much much more. I think this is where marbury is. Look at the shape he is in this year. He is about self improvement and helping others.

    Besides, I dont think he said he didnt care. I thought he said he isnt chasing a ring. Based on the way he cheers his team mates, I think he wants the team to do well. Compare Marbury to players like JR Rider or Derrick Coleman. I dont they they gave a darn about anything including winning and teammates.

    I remember jason Kidd had beef with a teammate in Dallas. During a game the player got hurt (I think it was Mashburn), Kidd had a the ball with a chance to score, rather than caling a time out, he jumped over his ailing teammate to take a lay up. The two points were not as important as his hurt teammate. I dont want that attitude on my team. Call the time out and help the teammate.

    So lets say that you have the ball and a clear path the the bucket, but you have to jump over a seriously injured teammate (I’m talking Shawn Livingston type injury) to score the winning basket. Do call timeout and help him, or do you jump over him to win the game?

  12. He’s a basketball player. This is a basketball blog. Amongst other things, economics, philosophy and questions are great inspiration are covered here, but as an athlete, as an expensive employee for our team, if we need him to score two points to win the game he best be sure he does it. Mashburn would have done the same.

  13. Mr. Black

    I agree that people tend to criticize Stephon Marbury too harshly, but you seem to be turning a blind eye to everything negative about the guy and only embracing the positive.

    Talk about stepping over people, do KG, Kurt Thomas, or every coach he’s ever played for ring a bell?

    Marbury has also created a lot of the unrealistic expectations he faces. He’s embraced the knickname Starbury and called himself the best PG in the NBA. He’s the face of the Knicks and has played a role in having coaches, teammates, and other employees hired and fired. If you take that kind of responsibilty, you also have to be responsible for the results.

    As a fan, it sounds really silly to say you’d rather have Marbury than Kidd. Even if your assumptions, projected from a few events, are correct, it’s kind of like saying that you’d rather have an above-average lawyer who’s a nice, caring guy but doesn’t really care whether he wins your case and hasn’t won many cases before; than an amazing lawyer who’ll bust his ass to win your case and has an great track-record of winning cases, but is a selfish person. While paying the first lawyer just as much as you would the second.

  14. Ted Nelson,

    Perhaps you are right; I am not focusing on the mistakes Marbury has made. So for the record, Yes he has been arrogant much of his career. He didnt play nice with KG. He drove many a coach insane. For all his talent, three teams have put him on the street. He has a history of not being a good locker room guy. Whew, now that I have said that, let me ask: How many of us would like to be judged by the choices we made at 21?

    I am in my (shudder) mid-30s. When I think about the idiot I was at 21, I cringe. I tend to turn a “blind eye” because I too have learned from past mistakes. I believe that people can change.

    I acknowledge that the man made mistakes; However, I am willing to allow him to put those mistakes behind him. I am not going to ignore over 5 million in charitable donations just because he argued with a coach or two, or three.

    I’m not going to ignore Marbury’s school supply drive for the children of NY just because he argued with Kurt Thomas.

    Please keep this in mind:

    Jason Kidd = 0 Rings
    Marbury = 0 Rings

    If winning is all you care about, why would you want Kidd, a player that has never won a title? Kidd has been a pretty “bad” guy himself. He fought with teammates in Dallas. He hit his wife in Phx. He hasnt brought a title to NJ. People ignore Kidds faults becuas he advances in the playoffs. If Marbury can somehow make a conference final or NBA final in the next two years, people will forget some of his mistakes too.

    There is more to life than the games we play, my son showed me that.

  15. Winning is not ALL I care about. Winning a title (well watching people win a title) is definitely not all I care about. I certainly recognize that there is life outside of basketball, or outside of anything, and would guess that anyone who doesn’t is a really sad person.
    It’s just that other people seem to be able to have a family life, give back to the community, and still be amazing at what they do for a living. I’m not saying Stephon Marbury is a bad person, I’m just not saying he seems like an alright guy who’s given like 5% of his wealth to help out in his community so I will excuse the fact that he’s either underperformed or faced unrealistic expectations throughout his career.

    Kidd does have two conference titles, and has had a far superior basketball career to Stephon Marbury. Kidd is one of the best PGs of all time, Marbury has been an above-average player on losing teams. The Shareef Abdul-Rahim of PGs.

    As a fan I do care about winning to some extent. I care to cheer for a team that does everything it can to win every game, that lays it all on the line and leaves everything they have on the court. I grew up watching the Knicks do that in the 90s and wouldn’t in a million years trade the experience for 1 ring and several bad seasons. When I said as much on this blog a few months ago I was basically called an idiot by almost everyone. I could root for a team that gave everything it had every night, were paid/charged a resonable amount, and still lost more games than it won. If it was clear to me that they were doing everything they could to win and entertain the fans: to do their jobs.

    The current Knicks roster often appears to be going through the motions during games, and certainly doesn’t seem to do the offcourt preperation and learning necessary to win in the NBA.

    Marbury’s mistakes were not limited to when he was 21. In the past few weeks I’ve learned that his cousins were hired and paid to fuck around in the Knicks front office. I’ve definitely had some second chances in life and hope that everyone is so fortunate. With Marbury, however, we’re talking about 5th and 6th chances.

    Glad to see that he’s finally making good, but that doesn’t excuse anything he’s done in the past.

    I’m also not really judging Stephon Marbury as a man, I’m judging him as a player. I don’t know him personally, so it’s not particularly relavent to me if he’s a good person. Only in that he’s a leader in the community. Otherwise, I judge him as a basketball player, because that’s what’s most relavent to my life and to this blog. As a basketball player, his character flaws have been very relavent to his teams’ lack of success. Feuding with coaches and teammates, not “knowing his role”, and getting friends and family hired have all hurt the Knicks. Since arriving in NJ, Kidd’s personality flaws haven’t seemed to hurt the team. He’s been a leader and an amazing PG.

    If Marbury is a nice guy who’d rather retire to Italy or help the children, that’s great for him. No one should be doing something that makes them miserable. If that is in fact the case, he should quite his day job and stop extorting 10s of millions of dollars from NY fans. If you’re making $20 million in other people’s hard earned money to half-ass your job, and I’m just saying if I don’t know what goes on in Steph’s mind but I have seen no signs that it relates to the zen buddism stuff you’re talking about, giving them back a small protion doesn’t seem so noble.

  16. 5% is much more than most people give. Many Knicks have made more and given less. You must measure the impact of the gift, not the size of the gift.

    Kidd still hasnt won a ring. So he is marbury without the charity.

    Marbury will shock you this year.

    Thanks for the thoughtful insight.

  17. “Kidd still hasnt won a ring. So he is marbury without the charity.”

    That’s not true at all. Kidd has undoubtedly been more successful than Marbury. Marbury has only been to the playoffs 4 times, has never won a playoff series and tends to play poorly in the playoffs. Kidd has been to the playoffs 11 times, has been out of the first round 6 times, to the Finals twice and maintains his excellent play in the playoffs.

    That’s like saying Earl Watson hasn’t won a ring so he is Jason Kidd without the big-headed son.

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