STEPHON MARBURY, GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN • Latino Sports

Basketball

STEPHON MARBURY, GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN

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New York—The media magnet at Madison Square Garden since the 2008-9 NBA season began has been the soap opera saga of Stephon Marbury.  Even this season’s trades of Jamal Crawford, Zach Randolph, and Mardy Collins, or the Knicks’ record breaking 82 points in the first half against the Golden State Warriors on November 29 has not garnered the headlines that the story of the status of Marbury   has caused to be written. The end to the contention between the $22 million dollar player and his bosses on the Knicks may be in the offing, but has not yet arrived. The Knicks president Donnie Walsh, surrounded by reporters, before the start of the November 29 contest with Golden State, spoke of the conflict to the interested members of the press. He began by giving everyone involved the benefit of the doubt, “I think everybody came into it with good intentions, and it hasn’t worked out, so we’ve got to acknowledge that.”

                                  

Walsh then discussed the reasoning behind his decision to issue a one-game suspension of Marbury, that evening’s game against the Warriors, and a fine of $400,000 for refusing to play against Detroit, “I’m definitely disappointed in a refusal to play because I think that’s central to a player’s contract.” Marbury had previously turned down an offer from Coach Mike D’Antoni to play against Milwaukee one week earlier. The Knicks president tried to minimize the distraction the Marbury situation is causing the team, “I don’t think the [situation] is going to affect the other players on the team. This has, somewhat been going on a little bit, and they’ve handled that part very well.’’ D’Antoni has reacted with annoyance whenever his relationship with Marbury or the question of Marbury’s place on the team has been raised in questions from reporters.  An example took place after that evening’s contest when D’Antoni bristled, “That’s enough of the talk because it is a distraction, and we need to go forward.”

The problem has been ongoing since the regular season began. Marbury had been given time on the court during the preseason games. When the regular season began, Coach D’Antoni assigned Marbury to the inactive list, and remarked in clear terms that Marbury was not in the future plans of the Knicks. Marbury did not react publicly until late November when, in an interview with the New York post, he verbally blasted his teammates for their lack of support during his difficulties with the organization. Of his  most outspoken critic on the team, Quinton Richardson, he said, “When things got bad and then worse, guys like Quinton Richardson say, ‘I don’t consider him a teammate. He let his teammates out to dry.’ He didn’t care I was his teammate when I was banished. They left me out for dead.’” Marbury expressed complete disdain for D’Antoni, “I wouldn’t trust him to walk my dog across the street.”

On December 1, Marbury and his attorneys from the Players’ association met with Walsh. A permanent resolution to the impasse was not reached. Marbury was not traded. An agreement with the Knicks for his contract to be bought out was not achieved. He was not waived. Walsh, in a statement released by the Knicks stated, “After meeting with Stephon and his representatives this afternoon, we have directed Stephon not to participate or attend games until further notice.” 

Marbury had not been seen at a Knicks until last week. He was still not on the court, but was present as a paying customer when the team visited Los Angeles.  Marbury told reporters he was earning his salary, “By doing nothing.” He also told reporters that everyone would be surprised by how soon he would be signed and by what club once he was officially separated from the Knicks.  On Monday, Donnie Walsh commented upon the ongoing story, “I don’t know if it’s imminent, but I think we’re continuing to try to see if we can come to an understanding. I’m always hopeful something can get worked out. It’s in his interest. It’s in our interest. We’re not taking it lightly, and Stephon’s not taking it lightly.” Despite the latest statement, the calendar year will be coming to a close in a few days, but Marbury is still a member of the Knicks.

About William Gerena-Rochet

William Gerena Rochet, is the former Latino Sports baseball editor. He is a retired NYC teacher who divides his time living between New York City and San Juan, Puerto Rico. He started writing for Latino Sports during the inaugural World Baseball Classic when a series was played in Puerto Rico in 2006. On of his favorite moments was covering the 2006 MLB All-Star Game in Pittsburgh. During his time with Latino Sports, he covered several divisional and League championship series games and the 2009 World Series. He also covered the last game at the old Yankee stadium and the first game of the current one. In closing, William has covered multiples Latino Sports MVP Awards ceremonies and Spanish Language Press Conferences including the Jorge Posada retirement one. Now a contributor, Willie will occasionally cover the Yankees.