The Stephon Marbury I Grew Up With …
I grew up following Marbury’s high school career. I nicknamed him Rocky because he was always training. Every TV story or magazine picture showed him working out, the infamous Coney Island projects hanging in the background. And there were plenty of TV stories and magazine pictures. As a teenager, I read about his high school exploits in Slam and every NYC daily paper. Back then, everyone knew the story of Steph, his brothers, and Dad …
Much has been made of Stephon Marbury’s three year tenure in
Check out this exchange following the Knicks loss to the Sixers on Friday evening:
One ballsy reporter, after Marbury played 13 passive minutes and benched himself at halftime, asked him what his father would have said to him after a bad game like this one.
Marbury, who often dismisses questions he doesn’t think are appropriate, actually tried to answer it instead of embarrassing the reporter. He said he never had a game like this so he wouldn’t know. (Marc
I grew up following Marbury’s high school career. I nicknamed him Rocky because he was always training. Every TV story or magazine picture showed him working out, the infamous
And there were plenty of TV stories and magazine pictures. As a teenager, I read about his high school exploits in Slam and every NYC daily paper. Back then, everyone knew the story of Steph, his brothers, and Dad.
As a way of paying homage to the Marbury clan, I decided to post a 1994 New York Times story which examines the family’s relationship with basketball and their neighborhood.
A Prodigy Prepares to Seize His Moment, New York Times,
August 2 1994.
It is a storied name in high school basketball in a city with a rich tradition.
"The Marbury name is synonymous with
basketball," said Bobby Hartstein, the coach at New York City in Lincoln High School Brooklyn. In 14 years there, he has coached three of five Marbury brothers to stellar prep careers.
The latest is Stephon, a 17-year-old who is not only the best of the Marbury brothers, but one of the best high school players in the country.
Last season, he was overshadowed in the city by Rice’s all-American, Felipe Lopez. But Lopez is moving on to
, clearing the lane for Marbury to command the spotlight during his senior season at St. John’s . Lincoln
"I’m ready," Marbury said.
Three years ago, as a 5-foot-8-inch, 140-pound freshman, he said, "I love pressure." Numerous athletic achievements later, that Terminator-like cool remains, but Marbury now stands 6-2 and weighs 175 pounds, with the body fat of lettuce.
Back From a Road Trip
This summer, the lithe point guard has traveled almost as much as a politician on the stump, except that all the constituents are convinced. Since June, Marbury has played in
, Chicago , N. J., Teaneck and Pittsburgh Las Vegas, Nev.
Marbury is back home for this week’s Golden Hoops tournament, which features the area’s best prep players. In their opener last night, Marbury scored 19 points and had 5 assists to lead the Bronx Gauchos over the Madison Square Broncos, 101-78. The tournament continues through Friday at
‘s Levien Gym. Columbia
But what the Parade Magazine All-America considers "my best accomplishment" has nothing to do with statistics. Last February, his
Coney Islandneighborhood awarded him a plaque for being a role model. "I shed a tear from that," said Marbury, who lives in the projects. "It was nice that the older people thought I meant something to the little kids." Surfside Gardens
Not far from his fourth-floor apartment, youngsters played on O’Dwyer Gardens court. "This is where I grew up," he said, sitting on a bench and gesturing at the tree-lined, asphalt court. "That’s where I got to be where I’m at. Playing with older guys. I value this court. We used to go out after and just shoot a thousand shots."
That zeal helped form a seamless game: Marbury can shoot, jump, dribble, pass and penetrate well. And, said Tom Konchalski, a high school talent scout, "he plays dictatorial defense and just locks people up."
Marbury also has a passion to win. "When I get on the floor, I don’t have any friends," he said. "I’m there to do a job."
Last season, Marbury averaged 26 points per game and made 45 percent of his 3-point shots. He also averaged 8.5 assists and 3.5 steals per game, statistics he attributes in part to excellent peripheral vision.
"You see everything around you," Marbury said. "Everything. Even the little things: Like if your girl is walking in back of you, you can see her out of the corner of your eyes checking out another guy." Marbury chuckled as he checked for the reaction of his girlfriend, who was within earshot.
Such charm is also evident on the court, where he combines fundamentals and flair. There, he is an entertainer, exuding coolness, with a touch of cockiness.
"Throughout my life, I’ve known thousands of kids who’ve played ball," said Lou d’Almeida, who has coached Kenny Anderson, Rod Strickland and Chris Mullin on the Gauchos, a club team he founded in 1968. "I’ve always asked myself: What is it about Stephon that makes him unique? Is it his smile? Is it the way he walks? The way he talks? It’s that quality that they used to call in the 30’s and 40’s: ‘It.’ I-T. His style is so unique."
It is a well-polished act that began in childhood.
"When he was a couple of years old, he had the strength to hit the front of the rim," said Marbury’s father, Don. "They had to bribe him to get off so they could play. I just sat there and marveled."
Marbury’s city-hopping continues in two weeks, when he will travel to
for practice with the United States Junior Olympic team — he is the only high school guard on the team — which will play in beginning in late August. Minnesota
Marbury "impressed the select committee," said Clem Haskins, the
coach who is coaching the junior team. "He played extremely well." Universityof Minnesota
Too much praise often leads to hyperbole. So what are Marbury’s weaknesses? "Stephon tries to make every play a great one," said Konchalski. "He doesn’t realize that you don’t hit a grand slam every at-bat."
Then he quickly added: "But these are mere cavils. It’s like looking for chips in the Mona Lisa."
What do you think of this Marbury story from 1994? Get at us in the comment box below with your thoughts.
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