Stephon Marbury Can Rejuvenate His Career with the Boston Celtics

Jake LloydCorrespondent IFebruary 25, 2009

It's not official yet, but anyone who closely follows the NBA knows that this will happen.

One of the league's most despised, selfish, wasted talents will join the roster of the league's defending champions—a team made up "team guys" who would never put themselves before their teammates—quite the opposite from Stephon Marbury's selfish style of play.

And, yet, I have a very good feeling about this. I think it will work for both for the Celtics and Marbury.

That doesn't mean that they'll win the NBA title together or even get past the conference finals, but losses on the court are as bad as things will get.

Marbury, to me, is not a bad person or even a naturally bad teammate. He's not irrevocably damaged, but rather is in need of direction. He needs to be a follower before he can become a respected leader.

At each of his NBA stops, he's been asked to run the team as the starting point guard. Of course, as talented as he is, it made perfect sense. There was no way "Mr. Big Time" was coming off the bench or following the example of another player.

He was paid too much. His ego was too big. And, he played in a "players' league."

So, as hard as the Don Caseys of the world might have tried to fine-tune Marbury into a winning point guard, he never had to listen and he never had to ride in the backseat.

That will all change in Boston. And that is the reason why this experiment has a great chance of not only landing the Celtics banner No. 18, but it will rejuvenate Marbury's loss-infested career.

As a Celtic, he will ride the bench. It won't matter how well he plays—he's not getting rising star Rajon Rondo's spot.

As a Celtic, he will be asked to follow one of the most easy-going, yet intimidating leaders in the league in Kevin Garnett. This will not be like their ill-fated time spent together in Minnesota.

Back then, they were both young and unproven. Neither player's career had taken off to the point of making him that much better, that much more proven and therefore more trustworthy than the other guy.

So Marbury, immature and full of himself, left Minneapolis as part of a bitter divorce. No one expected that he'd ever reunite with KG

But now, Garnett has all the power over his former teammate. He's the certain Hall-of-Famer. He's the man with the NBA title. He's got the ears of all of his teammates.

He'll gain another set of ears as soon as Marbury's plane touches down. Screw up again, and in Garnett's mind, Marbury will be done before he can walk the Freedom Trail.

Experiments like this aren't new to New England sports. Not too long ago, the New England Patriots brought in controversial wide receiver Randy Moss. And even before that, they signed much-maligned running back Corey Dillon.

Under the killer eye of Bill Belichick, who doesn't blink when cutting players, Dillon never caused a problem and won a Super Bowl at the end of the 2004 season. Moss, meanwhile, has been nothing short of brilliant—and on his best behavior.

Doc Rivers
might not be Belichick, but the makeup of an NBA team is more about the players than the coach. Even Belichick, with his iron fist, couldn't have handled the Knicks of a couple years ago.

The Celtics get it. Everyone, from Garnett to Ray Allen to Finals MVP Paul Pierce to youngsters Rondo and Kendrick Perkins, understands what the team is about and what its ultimate mission is.

There's no way a battered, bruised Marbury could mess that up, even if he tried—and he won't.

Because, even if a championship isn't important to him—and I doubt that—he knows that the only way to land a decent contract after the season is by being on his best behavior and doing what the Celtics ask of him.

So, whether he plays 30 minutes a game or 10 minutes a game (and I'm leaning toward the latter), don't expect to see the typical "Marbury Pout" while he sits on the bench once he moves one big city up the East Coast.

In fact, by learning from some of the game's best—both talent-wise and leadership-wise—he might change. He might become capable of running a winning basketball team next season and of being a winning starter for the first time.

To do something right, you have to see it and observe it first, right?

Marbury just turned 32. Maybe, he'll be a late learner...or maybe not. But the marriage in Boston, even if brief, should be a peaceful one.