BEIJING (AP) Stephon Marbury’s professional rebirth in China continued to bear fruit, as he led the Beijing Ducks to their second consecutive title and third overall championship since joining the team four years ago.
The 38-year-old former NBA standout was named the finals MVP for the first time following Beijing’s 106-98 victory over the Liaoning Leopards on Sunday night in the northeastern city of Shenyang.
Marbury averaged 29.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists and two steals over the best-of-seven series, which Beijing won 4-2. In the final game, he racked-up 24 points, five rebounds, seven assists and four steals.
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”This year, a lot of people criticized me, saying I was old, that I couldn’t play anymore. But I turned all that into fuel,” said Marbury, who struggled during the season with a knee injury.
”When we won the first championship, people said we couldn’t get another. After the second, people said you guys can’t repeat. Establishing a dynasty has always been my goal and my motivation,” Marbury said.
Marbury had a roller-coaster NBA career in which he was twice named as an All-Star but also endured a string of disappointing stints with several NBA teams.
A college standout at Georgia Tech, Marbury was a first-round pick in the 1996 NBA draft by Milwaukee, but traded to Minnesota. He also played for New Jersey and Phoenix before joining the New York Knicks amid high expectations that were never realized amid the team’s dysfunction. His last stop in the NBA was with Boston in 2009.
With his NBA options becoming limited, Marbury decided in 2010 to head for China in hopes of jump-starting his career.
Since arriving in Beijing, he’s become the unrivaled fan favorite and the team’s on-court leader – there is even a statue of him in front of the Ducks’ arena. He’s revived his sportswear line, become a mainstay of Chinese social media and even had a part in a musical inspired by his career second act in China.
He says he plans to stay in China after retiring and hopes to coach the national team one day.
After some tumultuous times in the NBA, Marbury says he’s found peace in China and vindication over all those who questioned his talent and commitment.
”Jesus did it!! Back 2 Back championships! Keep talking behind my back and God gone keep blessing me in yo Face!,” Marbury tweeted after Sunday’s victory.