On Tuesday, the New York Knicks and their former star point guard finally ended their standoff and agreed to a buyout of Stephon Marbury’s contract. Since training camp, the Knicks have payed Marbury, who also answers to the nickname “Starbury”, approximately $20MM this season. In return for this phat paycheck, Starbury has played a total of zero minutes this season.
This happened to the Knicks once before. Back when the team managed to make it to the NBA Finals despite barely sneaking into the playoffs, they locked shooting guard Allan Houston up with a mega deal that payed him more than $20MM annually. He subsequently developed an arthritic condition in his knee and basically sat out the last three years of his contract. Thanks to the guaranteed contracts negotiated in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Houston received every penny.
Starbury, however, is perfectly healthy. (From a physical standpoint. Mentally, there are questions.) During the preseason, the team’s new coach, Mike D’Antoni, decided to go with veteran back up Chris Duhon as his starter at the point and exiled Marbury to the end of the bench. That proved to be a problem, because the ego of Stephon Marbury was only inflamed by the DNP-Coach’s Decision. Before the first month of the 2008/2009 season had completed, Marbury was banished from doing anything other than cashing his paycheck by the team to avoid the distraction he was causing.
Yet he still managed to be a distraction. When the Knicks visited the Lakers, Starbury bought a floor seat to the game and appeared to cheer for L.A. He still made bigger headlines in the Big Apple than the surprisingly good Knicks team.
Now, you may be asking: What does any of this have to do with the Thunder?
For the gods of comedy sake, the Thunder should sign Starbury for the rest of the season. Find out why after the jump.
From a basketball standpoint, having Marbury on the Thunder makes zero sense. The last thing you want is him taking Russell Westbrook under his wing and re-inforcing the ball hogging point guard style for which Starbury is the poster child. His “me-first” attitude and media presence would likely grate on the nerves of the players who actually deserve the attention, as well.
And truth-be-told, there is zero opportunity of this even happening. When Starbury clears waivers tomorrow, the amount of time between him being an unrestricted free agent and a member of the Boston Celtics will be measured only in the amount of time it takes for the ink from his pen to dry.
That will be a shame. While I understand the redemption strategy he is pursuing–banished guard heads to rival and helps them win a championship–it is the wrong one. First, if the Celtics do fail in their quest for back-to-back championships, Marbury is setting himself up to be the fall guy. ESPN has been preparing all season to label him as the kryptonite that brings down the Celtics’ “Three Basketeers” (Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen). Then, if he is successful, he’ll be labeled as a washed up, has been who rode those same stars coattails for an undeserved ring.
Coming here, though, Starbury can really repair his reputation…and land a reality television show on FOX.
Think about it: Stephon Marbury was profiled for a bookwhen he was a freshman at a high school in Coney Island. In it, he already exhibited prima donna tendencies that have followed him throughout his NBA career. From orchestrating a trade to get him out of Minneapolis and into a larger market, to torpedoing the 2004 Olympic team’s gold medal hopes, to driving the final nail in the Isiah Thomas era for the Knicks, Starbury has always been about Starbury. And Starbury needs attention.
Signing with Oklahoma City could shatter that perception. Here, the only coverage he’d receive would be being televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma, and nightly questions from Darnell Mayberry. His publicist could spin it as Marbury trying to get back to his roots and remember his love for the game. They might even toss in some, he wanted to help the young stars take the next step cliches. In the meantime, Marbury’s desire for attention would be satisfied by “The Simple Life: Hardwood in the Homeland” cameras following him everywhere.
Now, I hate reality television, but I’d watch that show. The premiere would include Starbury traipsing around Penn Square Mall and asking fellow shoppers, “Where’s the Dolce and Gabbana store?” Another would have him showing off his recent conversion to Christianity by attending some local mega churches. The best episode would involve Marbury wandering the underground tunnels downtown in search of the subway terminal. Then, convinced by the psychedelic lighting installed by Rand Elliott that the tunnels were actually an underground club, he would hire a DJ and host the biggest post game party OKC has ever seen after a game against the Charlotte Bobcats.
Tell me that wouldn’t be great television!