Stephon

I have written about it before, but that bad attitude dude, Stephon Marbury is at it again. Appearing on WFAN this Friday with Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts, Marbury showed his true character. His latest exploit – buying books for an underfunded library on Staten Island, in an impoverished area where Marbury grew up. Marbury was out on Staten Island earlier in the week participating in a reading-to-kids program, and made the donation in conjunction with that program. This is nothing new for Steph. Though regularly vilified for his bad attitude and presumptively bad character, there are few professional athletes in all of major American sports that devote as much time and energy to good works as Marbury.

Marbury, of course, has also taken the basketball-sneaker world by storm, since his well-selling Starbury one line goes for anywhere from 9.98 to 14.98. As Benigno and Roberts pointed out, that’s way less than the sneaker line of the now officially anointed Le Bron James (which go for about $150 a pop).  And, as Marbury told Outside the Lines last summer, the reason he was doing this was so that families like the one he grew up in didn’t have to choose between buying groceries and buying basketball shoes.

We’ll have made progress when guys like Marbury don’t get judged to be bad characters by whether they cooperate sufficiently with the media.

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18 Responses to “Stephon”

  1. J, really makes you wonder about the motives of some segments of the media huh? Marbury should be all over the news. I’ll try to get him on TSF.

  2. Reasons like this are the reasons why I avoid mainstream media opinion nowadays. To think–I’ve only just had my eyes opened! What have I been missing? Do you ever email big-time guys like maybe Scoop Jackson, or I guess Abbott now to have them pick up this stuff. The mainstream doesn’t want people to see this side, but we have a few guys out there who are willing to show them.

  3. Jason S. Says:

    I think the old school media types have a hard time forgetting their initial impressions of players. The only negative light that I can ever remember being shown on Stephon was his desire to get out of Minnesota. So, he gets labeled a malcontent; and, it sticks because people are lazy and don’t want to make the effort to formulate their own opinion about an athlete.

    I’ll reference a previous thread that turned to a discussion about Bonds; I believe it was Mizzo (apologies if I’m mistaken) said that he had met Bonds and that Bonds didn’t fit any of the media stereotypes that abound, so he, Mizzo, has relied on his own impression of the meeting when discussing Barry. We can only hope that more sportswriters developed their own opinions in this manner; it would revolutionize sportswriting.

    It goes without saying, but good work.

  4. This is nice to see. I remember alot of media coverage of his shoe line, not just the OTL but also Oprah. I have heard 2 criticisms of Stephon, one was the way he left Minnesota, the other was that he was a shoot-first point guard. I’m not sure either was valid. (If you look at his stats, he has been amazingly consistent throughout his career) I liked his portrayal in “The Last Shot” by Darcy Frey, which is a great book if you haven’t read it.

  5. Yeah, I love it when people call Marbury (or the Knicks in general) “thugs”, when none of them have any sort of arrest record. Except for a DUI for Steve Francis.

    The perception of Marbury as a selfish, pass-first guard came from Larry Brown. Up to that point Marbury was still “the local boy comes home”, but when Larry Brown took exception to Marbury, he used the media to push the perception that Marbury was a selfish point guard (even though he averaged like 8 apg for his career), and that he was a “loser”, i.e. no team had ever won 50 games with him (50 being the number mentioned, because he did win 47 in Minnesota with KG). And the press ran with it.

    At least that’s my take on it.

  6. The Starbury line is a great discussion starter with students about the fetishism of commodities.

  7. According to Wikipedia, Marbury did have a DUI in Phoenix, which I did not remember.

  8. Marbury is both the good-hearted person who uses his influence to do good, and a player on the court that may indeed be selfish and flawed as a PG (SML, portrayals of Marbury as a selfish player started long before Larry Brown). If media portrayals have a flaw, it’s that they can’t separate the two: off the court, Marbury has shown himself to be a tremendously unselfish person. On the court, Marbury’s teams often seem to get better when he leaves, and Marbury as a player is, in my opinion, a scorer rather than a point guard (I’m not really trying to start an argument over Marbury’s merits on the court).

    My guess is that there are plenty of situations in which media portrayals don’t do the opposite, either: a guy could be an unselfish team-first guy on the court and a real selfish jerk off the court.

  9. I can’t believe I’m reading this.

    Marbury is judged to be a ‘bad character’ because:

    1. Forced his way out of Minnesota
    2. His teammates from the Nets talked openly about how much nicer life was without Starbury around.
    3. He has referred to himself repeatedly as ‘the best point guard in the NBA’, despite the continued existence of Jason Kidd (and Gary Payton, Steve Nash, etc.).
    4. Traded by Phoenix _because_ of a DIU (recall Phoenix’s history of overreacting to criminal behavior, which is why JKidd was traded).
    5. The public feuding with Larry Brown (both of them were in the media about it).

    He’s not considered to be a ‘bad character’ because he ignores/hates the media.

    Furthermore, those shoes: A good idea, but almost a step in the wrong direction. They are still made in China (although apparently they try to do SOMETHING to reduce/eliminate sweatshop conditions) and are plagued by the same ethical and environmental considerations as shoes made by mega-brands Nike or Adidas. The goal of the Starbury shoes seems to be: You don’t need to buy expensive shoes to have cool shoes.

    What if Nike etc. started selling shoes for 1/3rd the cost (a Starbury competitor). Does it change the sweatshops, the gas burned to fly/ship them over here, the space in a landfill?

    If Marbury really cared about changing attitudes about footwear in the NBA, he’d have gone to a company like Blackspot (http://adbusters.org/metas/corpo/blackspotshoes/home.php) and work with them to make a cheap shoe.

    Personally I can’t stand Marbury’s game, but I’m encouraged by his thinking outside the box on other issues. I just hope eventually he takes it the next step.

  10. I’ll admit I’m not a big fan of Marbury’s game. I’ve never been a fan of the scoring point guard. That’s just my opinion. However, he does seem like a good person community-wise. That’s great. If what JFunk said is true, yeah I would like to see the Starbury made outside of “sweatshop” conditions. If true, all Marbury did was cut out the fat cat eating the profits.

    Here is a few questions I have no answer for, and hence I am putting it out there:
    1) is there any blog out there that does nothing but chronicle the good things athletes do? Yeah, it’s easy to write about DUIs, domestic disturbances, and other law-breaking stuff, but to borrow Fox News “fair and balanced” would mean a web site that is dedicated to the positive impacts of athletes.

    2) Would it be possible to start a shoe making business right here in America, preferably in a city somewhere, with branches in many different cities? This would employ people and supply them with comfortable, accessable, trendy, usable, affordable sneaks from right there in their neighborhood. Customizable for each city by local designers and artists even.

    Food for thought.

  11. By the way, not saying Fox News is fair and balanced. Just borrowing the phrase. Fox News could be on mute and Stevie Wonder could see the bias.

  12. TheLastPoet Says:

    JFunk,

    First, to consider Marbury a “bad character,” even for the five reasons you listed, is pretty lame.

    Second, although I agree with you that Steve & Barry’s, the corporate entity behind the Starbury sneaker, has not gone far enought toward addressing sweatshop conditions in their overseas factories, I hardly think its a step in the wrong direction. Like I said, I understand your point, so no need to get in a tizzy about that, but Marbury’s expressed goal is to make these shoes accessible to low income families here in the United States. To the extent that he’s done that, it’s a step in the RIGHT direction, and it’s much more than Jordan or Lebron or anybody else has ever done. Later on, if/when Marbury can use his business partnerships and successes to gain more credibility, perhaps then he can broach the problems of sweatshops, consumerist culture, and corporate globalization.

    Jordi,

    Just a brief answer to your second question, as I don’t have much information on the subject myself. But I understand that New Balance sneakers – remember those? – was in fact an American corporation. They may (or may not) have purchased the raw materials from Mexico or overseas, but the shoes were sewn together in factories right here in the U.S. by American workers who had benefits and earned more than minimum wage. Doing business this way, however, did not allow them to compete with the cutthroat sweatshop policies in effect at Nike, adidas, and Reebok. If memory serves, New Balance faced bankruptcy, laid off large numbers of employees, and eventually sold out, either to one of the big three or to some business from overseas. Again, the memory fades here, so if one of yall has more info for Jordi, then by all means… But I do know that, at some point early on, New Balance was representative of just the kind of company you were talking about.

    Peace

  13. If I remember correctly, in the documentary “The Big One,” Michael Moore interviewed Phil Knight and tried to get him to open a shoe factory in the U.S. (I think in Flint, Michigan). Knight talked a good game (and that he allowed Moore to interview him on camera is itself impressive) but eventually said he didn’t think people in America wanted to make shoes (this after Moore went to Flint and got a large group of unemployed people to talk about how they would work at a shoe factory there).

  14. TheLastPoet Says:

    A comment I made over at SML’s website re Marbury and shoot-first PGs has lead me back here, and so I’d like to paste it here for your consideration:

    “A final point about Daniel Gibson (I’m with you, Miguel, no point in calling a grown man “Boobie.” This is a point I must stress repeatedly to my cousins “Man-man,” “Sugar Bear,” “Muffin,” and “Coco.” Um yeah, “Coco” is a dude (they all are). He’s 6-4, ’bout 260 lbs of overweighted-ness, and 25 yrs old – ahh family…) [The poet averts his eyes and shakes his head slowly]

    Moving on, considering all the Marbury haters out there (perhaps I need to post this comment over at TSF), how do you all feel about the shoot-first PG NOW? Let’s see, does er’body love Leandro Barbosa? Check. Does er’body love Monta Ellis? Check. Now Daniel Gibson is getting the love. All this love that the “ol school” shoot-firsters never got, like Marbury and the immortal AI. All of these players are variations on a theme, with AI serving as the archetype. Meanwhile Marbury actually does have passing skills, whereas the same cannot yet be said for the youngsters like Gibson who have nonetheless taken after him!

    So where is the love?”

  15. jweiler Says:

    JFunk

    The reasons you list do contribute to Marbury’s reputation, but if you read the link in my post, you’ll see that Mike and Mike devoted a lengthy discussion to Marbury’s bad character earlier this season, all precipitated by his answering a reporter’s question about how Marbury could do a talk show during the season, by saying “I don’t answer to nobody.”

    It’s true that Marbury’s shoes are made in sweatshop conditions – almost every shoe worn in the US is. And, from that standpoint, they only do so much good. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a big deal on the consumption end in this country that Marbury’s shoes are priced the way they are. And, it’s important to note how self-consciously Marbury understands the relationship between his own background and what he’s trying to do for others. He is rare in the sportsworld for the kind of social awareness he does possess.

    PV – I was going to mention the same scene from the Big One – not one of MM’s better movies, but a good scene.

  16. Jason S. Says:

    Here are a couple of links to New Balance info. Roughly 25 percent of their shoes are still produced in the US with, as TLP noted, materials from foreign countries.

    http://www.nbwebexpress.com/information/madeinusa.asp

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Balance

  17. J Funk:

    Marbury is judged to be a ‘bad character’ because:

    1. Forced his way out of Minnesota
    2. His teammates from the Nets talked openly about how much nicer life was without Starbury around.
    3. He has referred to himself repeatedly as ‘the best point guard in the NBA’, despite the continued existence of Jason Kidd (and Gary Payton, Steve Nash, etc.).
    4. Traded by Phoenix _because_ of a DIU (recall Phoenix’s history of overreacting to criminal behavior, which is why JKidd was traded).
    5. The public feuding with Larry Brown (both of them were in the media about it).

    Gets stupider and tstupider.

  18. jweiler – thanks for posting this, man. Steph just got a bad rap early, and gets it from all angles from people who don’t consider all the information available. Like the Steph/Larry Brown feud during the Olympics – if Steph hadn’t gone off and set a US Olympic team record in points against Spain, the US wouldn’t even have gotten the bronze medal! People generally only cite the “drama” of the feud and Steph’s “selfishness” as reasons that team didn’t live up to expectations, without recognizing the positive. “Steph’s a bad seed – Dude has been on four teams!” Well, J Kidd AND Nash are each on their third (counting PHX twice for Nash).

    Agreed on the shoe stuff – always better to do more re:sweatshop culture, but the line is making a definite impact with the low pricing – Starbury stuff is all over NYC, and it’s “appreciated” and “cool” pretty much across the board. Find someone who dismisses it because it’s “cheap,” and I’ll show you an ignorant bastard.

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