Marbury’s suspended until Monday, for the moment at least while the greivance process goes on. I assume/hope it’s a short-term measure while they decide how to resolve this.
What else to say? The story is currently the top article listed in the right hand main page list at ESPN. You won’t find Knicks game results there for the most part, or analysis of coaching strategies, or chances in upcoming games, or playoff odds or anything else going on with the team. Right now, in weeks where the team doesn’t make huge trades, this Marbury thing is the face of the franchise on a national basis. With the exception of Eddy Curry’s defense it’s the last really embarrassing thing associated with the team regularly, at least so long as the owners stay out of sight- but it gets more attention than all of the good things happening with the team of late. I’ m guilty of it as well; I have the Pistons game on my DVR unwatched at the moment, but here I am, writing about Marbury, again.
Up until recently I’d have been a fan of sending Starbury home, Jamaal Tinsley style, to wait either until the miracle of some useful deal could be made or a reasonable pro-rated buyout agreed. But this latest blowup, and the union getting involved, makes me think this is just going to keep being a story until he’s out of town for good. With all the stupid money the Knicks have thrown around in recent years, they may as well spend a bit more to help heal their reputation as an organization. It’s time to buy him out, even at no discount, and write it off as the last cost of cleaning out the Augean stables the Garden’s been for so long.
Back when Sean Avery was with the Rangers, I had a nickname for him: Captain Dickhead. Immature, I know, but you can’t tell me it didn’t capture the spirit in which he played the game. Well, Avery’s gone, and for the brief window of time before Stephon joins him in the outer darkness, I hereby officially transfer the nickname: Captain Dickhead is dead, long live Captain Dickhead. I don’t begrudge Marbury his demanding all the money owed him- he deserves it contractually. I don’t begrudge him his history of weird public behavior and Truck Party- I try not to be judgemental. I don’t begrudge him being a no-defense conscienceless chucker who’s managed to torpedo both the Knicks and Nets at different times; he is what he is as a player, getting mad about it won’t make him better.
But for the love of fuck, if you’re going to play contract hardball and demand every last cent, you do NOT then get to pick and choose whether you want to actually play while complaining that you’re not in the team’s future plans. With the exceptions of Wilson Chandler, David Lee and Nate Robinson at most, NO ONE on this team is in the team’s future plans, and yet somehow the rest of them just get on with it and act like professionals. Do you see our Guide and Leader refusing to play because he misses Jamal Crawford, or Lee complaining about having to be an undersized 5, or Malik Rose bemoaning his microscopic PT? Keep in mind, at this point, it’s not just fans or D’Antoni who are PO’d about this.
And so there it sits. The Knicks are at a better place in terms of future options and hopefulness than they’ve been in since maybe the crazy lockout year finals run, competent people are in charge of the team for the first time in just as long, the current group of players is pretty decent and a lot of fun right now on the court, and yet the biggest story continues to be a wreck of a player who once was very good, and now is only very good at wrecking his own reputation. What on earth will it take to be rid of this man? Zach Randolph, whatever else you can say about him, showed up this year, played hard, didn’t complain, knew he was going to be traded and didn’t let it shake him; Eddy Curry may be injured/deactivated/trapped in his home, but at least you don’t get a trail of foolishness following him wherever he goes. And yet Marbury, who makes both look like models of professionalism, is impossible to dislodge- wedged in place by an untradeably huge contract and an awful reputation which is one half justly earned and one half a product of his every move being analyzed and over-exposed. The Coney Island kid once wanted to be the biggest star in New York; in a way, now he is.
And still the man has his defenders. Read the comments to the linked Ken Berger article- it’s full of people praising Marbury for taking the shocking steps of showing up in shape and not burying the team in the press. Why, they ask, should he play and take the risk of getting hurt for a team which Doesn’t Respect Him? And this is the point where I wonder how much more respected you can be than to make roughly $3.5 million a month, for which you are asked for perhaps 70 minutes of court time. And when I wonder how they can applaud Marbury for trying to get every last cent and in the next breath damn the team for only using the player in emergency circumstances. So far as that parallel goes, each side is only doing what the other is doing, exploiting contractual boundaries to the utmost; but only one has gone beyond that to outright refuse to honor that contract while demanding its benefits. And yet, and yet…part of me sees his point. To be told that you’re essentially $20 million worth of 4th or 5th string backup and won’t have a chance to play your way into something more is humiliating, especially when you’re required to show up courtside and be reminded of it nightly, in what you think is still your prime, in your home town.
I’ve never known another player to evoke the unique combination of hate, hero-worship, admiration, pity, frustration and confusion that Starbury does. At this point, he has to be suspended and sent home. Not because he’s a terrible person- he’s not, despite this silliness; but because at this point every week brings more of this stupidity and damages him and the team alike, and neither are going to be able to really reestablish themselves until the separation is complete. Marbury has become a man trapped in the wreck of his own dreams, which is truly tragic in the largest sense of the word; but like all tragedies, the curtain has to fall for catharsis to happen. Every bad relationship ends one day or another; for the sake of all involved, today should be that day.