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Stephon Marbury Bought a Chinese Football Team

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It’s been a big month for Stephon Marbury, the high school basketball superstar who parlayed an uneven and sometimes bizarre NBA career into a complete career renaissance in China. Marbury has won three titles with the Beijing Ducks, has a statue of his likeness in the Chinese capital, and earlier this year was the subject (and star, playing himself) of a China-produced biopic:

The Stephon Marbury Movie Just Might Live Up to Real Life

In September, Marbury — who’s been grinding in the Chinese Basketball Association for the last seven years — announced that he wants to make a final run at the NBA, a victory lap of sorts to cap off his circuitous and undeniably inspiring career arc. He announced it in a lo-fi Instagram video, because that’s where most NBA drama happens these days:

But that’s not all. China Sports Insider has just reported that Marbury will also keep a foot in the Beijing sports world for the foreseeable future, as he’s just purchased the Lions, “a cornerstone franchise of the fledgling China Arena Football League.” This is American football, mind you — not soccer, which is what football usually means in any place that’s not America.

According to the CAFL’s official statement on the purchase:

The long-time China Basketball Association standout, who has announced that the upcoming 2017 CBA season will be his last, will begin his new career as a professional sports executive with the CAFL in China. According to Gustavus Bass, business manager for Stephon Marbury and CFO of Mabuli Corporation, “Stephon is following in the footsteps of other NBA greats and business/team owners like NBA legend the great Magic Johnson. One day he intends to buy a NBA team or maybe a NFL team. A CAFL team in Beijing is a natural fit for Mr. Marbury. This acquisition demonstrates his commitment to his second home and sports in Beijing. He wants to be a part of the sports scene in Beijing for a long time.”

Legacy!

I’ve always had a soft spot for 马布里 (Mabuli, the Chinese transliteration of his name), and as someone who went to school in Boston — where his NBA career sputtered to a halt in 2009 — and moved to Beijing immediately after, he’s been a strangely ubiquitous presence in my life.

Good luck on this new venture Stephon, and on achieving your parallel dream of “making one of the best basketball shoes ever.”

No relation, but here’s a pleasant tune by Wuhan band Chinese Football to play us out:

Cover image: Vice Sports

Josh Feola
Josh Feola is a US-based writer and musician, and RADII's former Culture Editor. His coverage of Chinese music and art has appeared in The Wire, Dazed, MIT Technology Review, Artsy, Bandcamp Daily and more. He's been active in China's underground music scene since 2010 via his booking platform pangbianr.com, and is a former member of Beijing bands Chui Wan, SUBS, and Vagus Nerve.