Marion Given Task of Covering Jordan

Bob Young
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 10, 2003

ATLANTA - Suns forward Shawn Marion will have a highlight reel to show his family from his first NBA All-Star Game.

Marion was given the unenviable task of guarding the East's Michael Jordan on the final three possessions of regulation, and he stopped him from scoring all three times as the West forced the game into overtime.

Then with less than five seconds to go in the first extra period, he had to do it again.

This time, Jordan hit a fadeaway jumper to give the East the lead. Kobe Bryant hit 2 of 3 free throws with a second left, and Marion blocked Jordan's shot at the final buzzer as the game went to a second overtime.

But Marion didn't just make a token appearance in his first All-Star night. He was a factor in the West's 155-145 double-overtime victory, getting eight points, seven rebounds and four assists and doing respectable job on Jordan.

"I sat over on the bench for a while, and then they asked me to play defense," Marion said. "It can be good or bad. He kind of got it going.

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"I knew he was going to be getting the ball, that's why I was trying to deny him from getting it."

Teammate Stephon Marbury thought the game was over when Jordan hit the shot over Marion.

"We were telling Shawn, 'You know he's going to take the last shot,' " Marbury said. "When he made it, I thought that was how it was going to end.

"I was like, 'How can you get mad at that? That's Michael Jordan.' "

Yao you doing?

Marbury made his way to the Rookie team's bench to support teammate Amare Stoudemire during Saturday night's Rookie Challenge, and found himself seated next to Houston's Yao Ming.

Yao, who was voted into the starting lineup of the Western Conference All-Star Team and also was sitting on the bench, struck up a conversation.

"He said, 'You're not a rookie. What are you doing here?' " Marbury said, laughing. "I asked him if his mother was here to do the cooking.

"He has everybody fooled. Yao understands what you're saying."

Only love

Richard Jefferson of the Nets said he didn't mean to criticize Marbury or Marion on Friday when he said they
wouldn't have been in the NBA All-Star Game without Stoudemire's contributions.

Jefferson said that without Stoudemire's inside presence, the Suns would be a .500 team and Marion and Marbury wouldn't have made the game.

Marbury, when told of the remark, said Jefferson "needs to keep his mouth closed."

Jefferson called it a "misunderstanding."

"I was praising Amare," he said. "I was praising the Suns' team."

Old school, new school

The Suns will have a new road uniform next season.

Suns President Bryan Colangelo said that, because the club has used its new uniforms for two years, they can now add an alternative road uniform.

He also said the Suns will play two games this season using their "throwback" original home white uniforms.

"But the shorts won't be that short," Colangelo said.

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