National Spotlight: JB with Marbury

Much like a Wild West standoff, the New York Knicks and Stephon Marbury can't agree on a buyout that would allow Marbury to play for another team this year. In 14 NBA seasons, Marbury seems to be a lighting rod for controversy in his years with the Wolves, Nets, Suns, and Knicks.

With a glance over to the seats directly across media row on Friday night at the Target Center, I found the legendary Coney Island point guard watching his former team play the Golden State Warriors. After a couple of minutes chatting with Marbury, I was surprised at the level of candor in which he spoke about the recent fallout with the Knicks. I have to admit, it's hard to feel sorry for a guy making over $20 million this season to sit the bench but for some reason, I understand his point of view.

Marbury wants to play basketball and he wanted to play in New York. The former Wolves guard spent his offseason training at optimal level to increase his productivity on the court for 2008-09. Almost half way through the regular season, Marbury continues to dress in street clothes while accepting the notion that the new head coach (Mike D'Antoni) simply does not see Marbury in their future plans. New York is certainly not a title contender and you would think they could use the talents of one of the premier scoring point guards in the league.

Two steps have to occur for Marbury to find a new zip code in 2009. The two parties will have to agree on an acceptable buyout before he can receive offers from other teams. Step two is where the storyline becomes a little bit more intriguing. The Celtics are rumored to be the new No. 1 team to capture Marbury for the stretch run of the season. Despite a somewhat tenuous relationship with Kevin Garnett during their playing days in Minnesota, Marbury might be a good fit for the reigning World Champs. By losing four of their last six games, Boston could be proactive and sign Marbury to bolster their offensive production from the second unit.

In all reality, the team where Marbury lands is actually not the story. At times, the media will jump at the chance to criticize an athlete with a controversial history (see Terrell Owens). While the criticism is sometimes warranted, not all circumstances are alike. Maybe, I'm just drinking the proverbial Kool-Aid that Marbury is spitting out. Maybe not. Who was the team that traded for Marbury with three years left on a monster contract? The Knicks. The franchise has decided to move in a different direction, they now owe it to Marbury and its fan base to reach a final agreement.

A transcription of my short conversation with Marbury is below.

JB: Steph, what's it like to be back in the Target Center?

Marbury: It feels great to be back here. The fans here are great, they always show big support. I see attendance is down but once they start winning a couple of games, I think fans will come back out and start pushing, pumping and rooting for the Wolves.

JB: You said you're in town to do a little business but you also get a chance to see Sebastian Telfair.

Marbury: Yeah, he is playing well. He is attacking the basket and I think for the most part he has to continue to stay aggressive. When he stays aggressive and attacking the defense, he opens up so many different lanes for other guys.

JB: What do you think about this Wolves team so far?

Marbury: I think these guys can play; they've showed signs against really good teams. They came to New York and beat New York. We have been kind of up and down but I think when these guys stay steady and focused on the game and just go out and continue the gameplan, they show signs of beating really good teams in the NBA.

JB: Let's talk about your situation. I have read your blog and it looks like you are looking for a team to play for this season. Right now the Knicks have not offered a buyout that you would agree to. What are you looking at with the Knicks, do you think you will return to the team or look elsewhere?

Marbury: I'm staying still right now; I'm not doing anything. For the most part, the decision is on them. They chose to go in another direction, when I came ready to play so you know for me, it's really not a buyout. It's about both of us going our separate ways. When they made the decision to go in another direction, I was fine with it, I understood they brought in a new point guard and tried to go in another direction, which, again is fine with me. I was just trying to say that I want play basketball, so I want to go with another team being that I wasn't going to be able to play there. The coach chose Chris Duhon, the guy he brought in and I respect that. He has a right to bring in whomever he wants to bring in for his team to go forward. For me, I'm just relaxing and taking care of some business for my Starbury line and I'm just taking the position of relaxing and enjoying life, that's it.

JB: How would you look in a Celtics uniform?

Marbury: I would look great in a Celtics uniform.

JB: All right, Steph I appreciate you taking the time with me tonight and good luck with your future endeavors this season. Hopefully we will see you back on the court soon.

Marbury: Thanks a lot man, I appreciate that.