How do you celebrate winning the Chinese Basketball Association championship? If you're Stephon Marbury, you receive a life-sized bronze statue of yourself.
While it was Marbury who led the Beijing Ducks to their first CBA championship, he wasn't able to be their MVP. Despite averaging 33.4 points, 6.2 assists and four rebounds per game through the finals, and exploding for 41 points in the series-clinching Game 5 victory, the postseason's most valuable player wasn't eligible to be named MVP because the league has a rule preventing foreign-born players from winning the award.
(Sidenote: Imagine if the NBA had this rule. No MVPs for Dirk Nowitzki or Steve Nash. That would be sad.)
For the thousands of fans who cheered and clapped for Marbury during the game and then cried with him afterward as he celebrated their first championship with them, this wasn't acceptable.
Instead of an MVP trophy for the adopted son, Marbury will be getting a life-size bronze statue of himself, which will depict the exact moment when he got a hold of the CBA championship trophy.
A few hours after that championship game had ended, HoopCHINA.com launched a “Build Marbury A Statue” campaign. In less than a week, 1.02 million fans have voted in favor of the idea.
Marbury tweeted on SINA Weibo (China’s version of Twitter): “I can’t begin to thank you for making the gesture of making a statue of me. Words can not explain how I felt when I heard this …”
This…is…awesome. I've written before about my love for Marbury's game and happiness that he has been able to make things work in China. The best part of this story is the appreciation that Ducks fans have for him and the gratitude he is able to feel back.
After things fell apart in the NBA, things have unfolded in a way no one could have predicted. From those horrible days on the bench being booed by fans despite being in street clothes, to being on top of his own basketball world. Marbury's been on a heck of a ride.
This is a testament to his character and love for the game. A lot of guys claim to love this game, but how many are willing to embrace an entirely new experience halfway across the world for an opportunity to play after being shunned by the league they grew up dreaming of?
A few years ago, Marbury looked like one of the most selfish characters in the NBA; today he's being celebrated in a culture that is so very different from all that he had ever known or grown up in.
Adding on to an already great story, Marbury currently graces the cover of the latest issue of SLAM China. Talk about full circle.
It's amazing where life will take you when you're open to it. In Marbury's case, it's taken him to China where he's been rewarded with a championship and a life-size statue. What you do with a statue of yourself, I'm not sure, but we'll be able to ask Marbury in a few weeks.