Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Marbury was great, but is that a good thing?

Stephon Marbury was great in the Delta Center Monday night. Leading the New York Knicks to a 102-99 overtime victory over the Utah Jazz. Marbury posted 30 points with 8 coming in the overtime. He showed a real life example of what it means to eat someone's lunch, referring to the two point guards on the Jazz. He had zero problem with the young Raul Lopez and the ancient Howard Eisley. While Lopez and Eisley can both give you good things at different times, they both ran into a dynamo they couldn't handle.

Marbury's season stats are terrific at 20.9 ppg and 8.2 assists per game. Those are right on his career averages of 20.5 and 8.3 respectively. One statistic this year is up. Way up. He is shooting a career high 47.2% this season, which is up from his career average of 43.4%. His previous career best was 44.2%.

Now, establishing that it was a great night for Stephon, I wonder if it was a good thing for those Knicks. Interim head coach Herb Williams and the man with the controls, Isaiah Thomas, both publicly shout praises about Marbury being 'the man'. However, its hard to wonder if some of these great performances don't perpetuate the love affair in New York and distract the people in charge from noticing that one trend in Marbury's career is continuing. Losing. New York is now 19-29 and will have a tough time making the playoffs, despite playing in the awful Eastern Conference. Despite a huge payroll, they won't be competitive at much except for the size of the paychecks they distribute every two weeks.

I have no vendetta against Stephon Marbury, but its hard not to wonder why the teams he plays for so often lose and underachieve. In a few cases, when he has been traded, the team went on to achieve great things in his absence. You could argue he was so valuable to the teams that he left, that they were able to obtain a great deal in the trade, almost a Herschel Walker type thing, and that could have some merit. Still, the losing is the key. The goal of this game is to win. I discount the personal goals of making lots of money, buying big houses, fancy cars, and posting big numbers...because, well...hey..losing makes you a loser and that isn't the goal. I don't mean any disrespect to Latrell Spreewell, if I just dissed his rationale for waking up each day, but well, I believe he can feed his kids. Okay, back to Marbury, I know its a team game and he shouldn't get all the blame. But, just for conversation consider, what happens to teams when he leaves, even if it is just coincidence....

Phoenix in Marbury's last full season there, went 44-38. This year they are on pace for 64-18. Also, before Stephon arrived in Phoenix they were 51-31, and in his first year there they dropped to 36-46.

Minnesota was 45-37 in Marbury's last season there ('97-98). When Terrell Brandon came on board they improved to 50-32.

New Jersey was 26-56 in his last full season there and then vaulted to 52-30 the year after he left.

I am not a big Isaiah Thomas fan, so I hope the Knicks hold on to Stephon.

Marbury by the way, brings this type of critical analysis on himself. Here is a recent statement from Stephon:

"Don't get me wrong, I love Jason Kidd, he is a great point guard," Marbury said. "[But] how am I comparing myself to him when I think I'm the best point guard to play basketball? That makes no sense. I can't compare myself to somebody when I already think I'm the best.

"I'm telling you what it is. I know I'm the best point guard in the NBA," Marbury said.

Stephon, have you ever heard of the saying, when you are great you don't have to spend all your time telling everyone and trying to convince them of your greatness? When you are great, they know it and are probably the ones telling you.

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