In many ways I’m sure that Stephon Marbury is the poster boy for the modern spoiled athlete. One need only look at his paltry record of achievement in the NBA to realize that Marbury is at best over-rated or at worst a me first talent who has parlayed his immense skills into very little actual winning in the NBA.
Sure, there was the whole $15 sneaker campaign. And for that, Marbury is to be complemented. If you’re the Knicks, Marbury’s charitable impulse is probably counter-balanced however by things like his damaging testimony in the Isiah Thomas sexual harassment trial and the public revelation of Marbury hooking up with Knicks’ cheerleaders in parked cars not to mention those pesky lack of wins since Starbury has come home to New York.
So, all in all, I can completely see why the Knicks would want to get rid of him. In fact, I (as a Knicks’ fan) never wanted him here in the first place. I was not alone in this sentiment. I felt Steph was a loser and many agreed.
Where I’m more alone, is with my current opinion on the latest Knick-Marbury tussle. The Knicks have suspended Marbury for refusing to suit up recently. If that’s all there was to the story, I’d surely be on the Knicks’s side as most fans are.
The reality, however, is that the Knicks and their new coach Mike D’Antoni mishandled Steph from square one. When D’Antoni was hired most people figured it was the beginning of the end for Marbury in NY. D’Antoni had gotten Marbury traded out of Phoenix after all, so it seemed a no brainer that if D’Antoni didn’t wanted to coach Marbury as a Sun that he sure wouldn’t want to coach him as a Knickerbocker.
Then, something surprising happened. D’Antoni started out his Knick tenure saying Marbury would have a chance to be part of the team. From all accounts, Marbury tried hard during the pre-season to fit into D’Antoni’s schemes. At one point, when new starting point guard Chris Duhon was struggling, there was even talk around town that Steph might re-claim his starting job. See! New York can be a naive place sometimes too.
About three games into the season, Marbury hadn’t seen a minute of playing time when Coach D’Antoni announced that Steph would no longer be a part of the team. Donnie Walsh who is D’Antoni’s boss seemed caught off guard by his coach’s proclamation. And so started the most recent Marbury controversy.
Whether Walsh was on board or not, Stephon Marbury was told he isn’t part of the team either now or in its future. Yes! He was able to keep his huge salary and for that he should certainly be (yet I’m sure he’s not) appreciative. So, Stephon became an outcast. That lasted until the Knicks got short handed and then they allegedly asked him to dress for a game. According to the Knicks, Marbury refused and what with him still drawing a paycheck from the organization and all, the Knicks saw fit to suspend him.
Stephon Marbury might be spoiled. He might be a jerk. But, he’s not wrong in this situation.
It’s the Knicks who set up a really bad situation for Marbury and their team. Now, they’re stuck with it. They’ve offended Mr. Marbury and now when they need him he won’t play for them.
I know it looks bad for Stephon, but what would you do if you made tens of millions of dollars a year, knew that others would be happy/foolish enough to pay you similar amounts of money and had the ego to go with it? Would you have put on a Knicks’ jersey? Or would you have felt mistreated and told your bosses to take a hike.
As fans, we always want pro athletes to be sainted figures only in pursuit of wins and championships. The reality is they are real people like you and me only more spoiled in most cases. If I was Stephon Marbury and had been lied to about my chances in the D’Antoni regime, I too would be in little hurry to run back to the Knicks when they got desperate enough to ask me back temporarily.
If I were Stephon Marbury I would feel like the Knicks played me like a fool. I would feel cheated out of a chance to compete for my spot on the team. And, yes, I too would have told them I wasn’t up to playing 30 minutes after being banished all season for no longer fitting in.
If I were Stephon Marbury I would not understand how the Knicks wouldn’t have tried to increase my trade value by actually playing me until someone pointed out that all I was really worth to the Knicks was the massive cap room my expiring contract would soon give them. Basically, I would realize the Knicks from the beginning were ready to flush away a year of my professional career so that they could get maximum cap relief.
Once that realization sunk in, I’d realize that I had some leverage. And I’d refuse to play too.
My guess is that if many of you were treated similarly by your places of work and had the ability to hit back at your organization without jeopardizing your massive check that you’d go for it. After all, you’re only human.
Just like athletes.