Reading over the previous post, I realize that I failed to place Stephon Marbury’s mysterious departure from the Knicks in any kind of context and that someone relatively oblivious to Knicks basketball might have gathered the impression that this was just some relatively normal guy who decided to go AWOL. Let me assure you that this is not the case, and offer a brief review of things that Steph has been up to in only the last six months:
THE STARBURY 1’s: Stephon released a line of inexpensive ($15-20) basketball shoes. He spent a lot of the time promoting the line over the summer. The idea was to provide a good looking shoe, which underprivileged fans (mostly kids) could reasonably afford. This is actually a very good project—most great NBA players spend a lot of time selling ultra expensive shoes, to relatively poor people, with commercials that make it seem as if owning a $100+ pair of sneakers is part of some journey to self discovery. Doubters point out that Stephon Marbury shoes would never move at Air Jordan prices, and some people have said that they are very cheaply made, but I actually give Steph a lot of points for this one. While a lot of basketball players make a big deal about having come from strained circumstances, Stephon is very unique in having actually attached his name to a product designed for underprivileged fans.
PROMISED TO MOVE TO ITALY: Stephon and family went to Italy and had a great time. Steph said that once his contract with the Knicks was up, in two years, he would move to Italy and play in the basketball league over there—he said that he absolutely was going to do this and compared himself to David Beckham.
SAID THE KNICKS WERE ON THE VERGE OF A CHAMPIONSHIP: When he was asked if he would follow through with his Italy plan even if it seemed as if the Knicks were on the verge of a championship he said, “I think we’re on the verge of a championship now.” That is the craziest thing on this list.
CAME OUT IN MILD SUPORT OF MICHAEL VICK: Steph bucked the sports establishment party line, and introduced the possibility that Michael Vick’s dog fighting activities did not necessarily mean that Vick was the son of Satan. He pointed out that other behaviors that are not overly kind to animals (he mentioned deer hunting) are more or less accepted in our society, and suggested that the revulsion to dog fighting had to do with its association with hip-hop culture. I don’t support Michael Vick at all, but you have to see Steph’s point. The outrage over Vick seems kind of odd, when you consider that over the last winter the vice-president of the god-damn country, while probably drunk, went out to shoot some birds that had been bread in captivity for the express purpose of being released right in front of a group of probably drunk white-men with guns. Of course, the vice-president actually shot an old man by mistake and Stephon got mercilessly blasted by the media for having said anything non-condemning about Vick.
HAD TO TESTIFY IN COURT ABOUT FUCKING A KNICKS INTERN IN HIS TRUCK: The fact that this was part of a lawsuit by a different woman brought against Isaiah Thomas made me speculate on Thomas’ innocence, since the Marbury/truck/intern episode seemed more scandalous than relevant. The intern had previously been dating Marbury’s cousin. The truck was parked outside of a strip-club.
BECAME A BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIAN
UPDATE: Looking over my Starbury list, one might get the impression that African-American athletes who try to break the mold (sell cheap shoes or point out that Michael Vick doesn’t have a monopoly on animal cruelty) are subjected to a myriad of degradations (like having to testify about intern/truck sex) and forced into a lot of weird ideological positions (like becoming Christian/Italian) as part of an effort to reconcile themselves with their public and their consciousness of the world—although these efforts are likely to cause the athlete to appear even more absurd and further their alienation. Then I was going to say something sarcastic about how this is obviously not the case and I’m sorry for misleading you, but fuck it, here is the un-ironic truth: the racial situation in this country is a god damn travesty, and all of us, every mother’s son, should be FUCKING ASHAMED.