Marbury still charming Chinese fans Even in New York, CBA legend has superstar appeal
Stephon Marbury had to wipe away tears after sharing a surprising, emotional hug with New York University freshman Sheng Kang Zhou on Wednesday.
The 19-year-old student, who grew up in Beijing, was overcome with emotion while standing a few feet away from the player he watched lead his hometown team to three Chinese Basketball Association championships.
Marbury was speaking at a function for incoming NYU students, touching on his career with the Beijing Ducks that included the franchise's first title in 2012.
"I had no clue. I couldn't stop crying," Marbury said of meeting Sheng.
"I know how he feels, and he's sharing the feeling of how happy he is. It goes to show the level of respect and love that comes from winning championships. Being a New Yorker, it's like if the Knicks won a championship for the first time."
Sheng, who was holding a scarf emblazoned with the city's soccer team, Beijing Guo'an, didn't know Marbury would be speaking until Tuesday.
"It was like a dream come true meeting him," Sheng said.
Marbury had a few stellar seasons in China after an NBA career that included stints with five teams, and he's become an iconic figure in the world's most populous nation.
He has a statue and was featured on a postage stamp in Beijing, as well as having a museum and a musical named in his honor. He even starred in an autobiographical movie titled My Other Home, and was name Best New Actor for his performance at the Shanghai Film Festival.
"I never in a million years would have thought any of this would have happened," he said.
Marbury's playing days will end after this season, but the 40-year-old New Yorker will stay near the game.
He wants to coach the Chinese national team, and Yao Ming has told him he'll be considered if he learns to speak Chinese. Marbury plans to take classes during the upcoming season. He might also try his hand in the Big3 3-on-3 league.
"Basketball is my life and I definitely will still be involved with it," Marbury said.
Marbury also has his Starbury athletic shoe and clothing company to keep him busy. He relaunched the brand in 2016 after it first hit the market in 2006. His shoes are sold for as low as $15.
"We understand the dynamics of what we need for the shoes to be made and get them to our warehouse," Marbury said.
"The way social media is and how platforms are set up, it's the perfect time for us to be able to sell the products we have. People can buy products so fast with just three or four clicks. It's amazing, the impulse buying. The timing couldn't have been better for us."
He handed out free sneakers to all the NYU students at the event and spoke of how he still wants to make affordable shoes.
"I grew up one of seven kids and my mom couldn't afford to get us any of the $150 shoes," he said. "I want to make sure that people can always have affordable shoes."
He respects what LaVar Ball and his sons are trying to do by building their own brand from scratch, but thinks the $500 price is too high.
"I think that's where the message is a little mixed up," Marbury said. "Where they're making people make a decision is where the price comes in."