Friday, February 27, 2009

MARBURY A CELTIC...It is Official

So today is the day. I know many of you have been waiting for this day just to snicker or perhaps some of you want to see the Coach blow a gasket. Others are surely going to be rooting hard for this to fail, and fail miserably. But Coach is going to keep the faith, keep it even though his favorite team, heck one of his favorite things in life is about to let in the ultimate NO into their family. That is correct, today is the day the Boston Celtics sign Stephon Marbury for the remainder of the season. (I have a shooting pain in my left shoulder, no shortness of breath...yet) The Celtics hungry for depth in the backcourt and scoring from the wing definitely get that from Marbury if he is able to fit in and if he is in game shape, IF.
We all know the rep. We all know the locker room stories. We saw the decline of his sanity while playing under the Thomas / Dolan regime. The Sunday night on Mike’d Up (Mike was out with Chicken Parm-itis that night and Ithaca’s College’s own Bruce Beck filled in admirably, BOMBERS!!!) when Marbury was acting as if he were on a combination of meds that Richard Dreyfuss and Chevy Chase used to hammer down before their epic 80’s film shoots. Do we all remember this? The beautiful thing here is that I don’t even have to start quoting the interview because Coach has it below. This really is one of the oddest, disturbing and entertaining 9 plus minutes of live television the Coach has ever seen (I feel blessed that I saw this live with Pistol, Wolf and crew back in the tree house days)

There never was any doubt in Marbury’s physical gifts. Strong, explosive, and quick at the point with a very good jumper both off the bounce and on the catch. He could iso you or play the pick n roll game, as well as be very very good in transition. But his career has not been defined by that. It has been defined by him demanding out of Minnesota (how does a 3rd year point guard at the age of 21 want to leave Kevin Garnett?) then being the guy the Nets traded to the Suns to get Jason Kidd, and of course coming back home to New York in the ideal situation to lead the Knicks back to respectability and having it become one of the biggest soap opera’s this proud basketball city has ever seen. The thing about Marbury on the court that fails him is that while his career average for assists is just under 8 per game he never became a floor general that raised the level of play of his teammates. The greats do that. Point guards like Magic, J-Kidd, The Glove, Zeke, Nash and CP3 not only get their numbers they raise the bar for their supporting cast. Allen Iverson who has had his critics since he entered the league was a guy that was always being mentioned in the same conversation with Marbury. But unlike Marbury, Iverson’s desire, will to win and ability to inspire his teammates got him to an NBA final back in 2001. Do you remember his supporting cast? Coach sure does, Big Deke, Aaron McKie, Tyrone Hill, Eric Snow, Derrick Coleman and George Lynch. Marbury in his prime was arguably as talented as AI, but it was everything else that goes with it that has been missing with guy.

As a Celtics fan I am trying to be objective and put personal feelings aside but it is a challenge. Back in the summer of 2005 I was directing basketball camps in Manhattan at Basketball City we had a week of Marbury camp. Usually when the player puts his name on a camp they show up 2 or 3 of the days out of the 5 day week. Showing face is good for everybody, the kids, the facility, and most importantly the player. Well Stephon showed up exactly once, on the last afternoon. When he walked into the bubble he immediately rubbed the Coach the wrong way as he didn’t take the time to say hello to any of our coaching staff who had been working hard with the kids to give them a great experience all week. Marbury then demanded that each kid get a basketball and spread themselves out over 2 of the basketball courts. So there we are 100 plus kids and Starbury with the staff waiting to see what he wants to do, maybe some ball handling, perhaps a story from when he was a youngster in Coney Island that could lead into a drill that he used to do on the playground that we could show the kids, nope. He told each kid that when he holds his hand to his hear they need to scream “I love this game.” That was just the beginning. He told them you have to want it to get somewhere in this game, yes, yes Stephon you do, you have WANT IT if you want to get anywhere in this world. So his instruction to them was this, “Everyone has to hold the ball over their head, last one to put it down gets $20.” That was it. That is what he brought to the table. Now I understand he came from a tough upbringing but these are city kids who paid to go to his camp. The look on some of the coaches face’s were priceless as we sat there and watched him make fun of kids whose arms got tired. In the end it was just a big joke to him, a quick 15K to give to his brother who sat on his rear all week off to the side yapping on his cell piece.

From the Celtics perspective this is worth the risk and I will explain why in clear Coachness terms. The Green have 2 needs. Marbury IF in shape and behaved fits them both. They need another ball handler off the bench and they need more scoring from the perimeter. As well as Ed House has played the last two seasons he is not the player you want handling the ball with the second unit on the court, he is however the guy you want shooting it. Marbury’s ability to create on the dribble, penetrate and yes pass will prove to be very valuable to the Celtics who will now have the opportunity to find a few extra minutes of rest for Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo if needed. A lineup that includes Marbury and House with either Pierce or Allen playing with the front court reserves (Yes, I know they signed Mikki Moore, another on the long list of guys that owes J-Kidd a royalty check each month) is quite an explosive combination of scoring from the perimeter.

I wonder what the first conversation in person will be like when Garnett and Marbury interact, Coach would do anything to be in that room. Would Steph finally say to KG, “So this is what I have been missing out on because I have been a complete clown?” Would KG simply say “Welcome old friend, this is an opportunity of a lifetime, but if you f#*k with this chemistry I’ll put you in the river Jimmy Markum style?” I am sure there was a sit down with Doc and the Big Three today. I am sure the law was laid down. I am sure there were handshakes, nods, looks of intensity as this team is about one thing, winning. But what Doc, Danny, the fans, the critics, the players and Marbury do not yet know is whether or not this will work. For the sake of Marbury’s basketball future and present he better make it work…Marbury in the glorious green and white begins tonight at the Garden, 7:30 tip against the Pacers. I'll be takinig a deep breath and hoping for the best...

1 comment:

ybloc said...

dear celtics,


the lakers