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Escape from New York

Posted by Charles P. Pierce November 6, 2008 05:59 AM

Not for nothing, but Stephon Marbury, soon to be an ex-New York Knickerbocker, is responsible for the shoes I wear when I rake my leaves. He is also responsible for the fact that I own letter jackets not only from Hickory High, of the movie Hoosiers, but also one from Carver High in Los Angeles, where Ken Howard used to coach as “The White Shadow,” long before his present gig haunting Boston stages as Tip O’Neill. When I put on the jacket, I think of myself as one of the people down the Carver bench — Goldstein, maybe, or Salami, who was played by one of the several Van Pattens. I think it was Trigger.

Anyway, the reason I own these clothes is that they were, well, cheap. The Starbury sneakers cost less than $15 and the jackets less than that. I considered both of these to be very good deals, since I really don’t believe someone should have to apply for federal matching funds to buy basketball shoes, especially if one is only going to wear them to putter around the yard. Raking leaves does not require great lateral movement or a prodigious vertical leap, not since we got rid of the snakes, anyway. And the Hickory High jacket regularly sets perfect strangers to yelling, “Run the picket fence at ’em!” across the dairy aisle at the supermarket. I believe life should be full of unexpected movie references.

So, just in the sartorial sense, I’ve always been something of a fan of Mr. Marbury. Of course, he’s fallen on hard times. The primary retail outlet for his gear spent the last year tap-dancing along the financial abyss, finally cutting out most of its stores. And, of course, he’s had problems of his own. The Knicks are trying to get out from under him and the $21.9 million they still owe him under a deal he got from Phoenix that was picked up by former New York team president Isiah Thomas, who is what sports businesses contract instead of Dutch elm disease. (Thomas was last seen suffering from that classically New York malady, the Messy Tabloid Episode, for which there is no real cure.) The Knicks hired Mike D’Antoni to coach them, and, although the season is young, D’Antoni has shown a rather impressive disinclination to play Marbury. For his part, Marbury, who acts as his own agent, refuses to talk about a buyout. And around and around they go, for the moment, anyway.

(Let us pause now, though, and consider that the Knicks and Marbury aren’t even the most volatile combination of the week in the Eastern Conference. On Monday, the Detroit Pistons actually went out of their way to bring Allen Iverson and Rasheed Wallace, two pieces of undeniable human plutonium, together on the same roster. Let us also pause now to pray for the soul — and the sanity — of Detroit coach Michael Curry. Why don’t they just go all the way and move the team to Los Alamos?)

Sooner or later, even the Knicks stop being stupid. (They canned Isiah, didn’t they?) Marbury and his money are going to have to be dealt somewhere, for something, unless he gets waived. Either that or he spends the entire season at the end of the New York bench, glowering like the Witch of the Cold Winds. What fun that will be when the team craters. Find me a way to tell that story without its beginning, “The New York Post has learned ...” Personally, and as a gesture of gratitude for the cheap shoes, I think your defending world champions should take a look at him. He’s still a healthy veteran point guard, and the team has yet to produce a backup for Rajon Rondo, who will become a star if they can somehow keep him intact. (Last week, against the Cavaliers, Ben Wallace rag-dolled Rondo to the floor, hitting him harder than Ellis Hobbs has hit anyone in a month. Rondo looked as if he’d dislocated his shoulder — with his wrist.) Marbury is big and solid, and he played with Celtics star Kevin Garnett once before, in Minnesota, when they were both very young.

I know, I know. There’s a chemistry thing going here, and what this team doesn’t need is a guy with a messy employment history sidling up here from one of the NBA’s most notorious plague ships. And there is the fact that he never really has gotten along with anyone anywhere he’s played. And he does have a new tattoo — on his head. This has caused no little consternation among the NBA’s cognoscenti; one overheated scribe even blamed Marbury, and the tattoo on his head, for a flat-line performance that the Knicks threw out there against Milwaukee over the weekend. My opinion? If you’re so worried about someone who isn’t playing, and about the tattoo on his head, that you go out there and drown in flop sweat at home against a team that starts Luke Ridnour at the point, and we’re barely past Halloween, the season’s pretty much gone anyway. So cut your losses and make the deal, and start setting up those tee times for early June. Bringing Marbury here, at the very least, would put the principles that the Celtics embodied to win it all last year to the severest test imaginable. But then again, what do I know? I once bought shoes from a guy with a tattoo on his head.

OT columnist Charles P. Pierce is a Boston Globe Magazine staff writer.

40 comments so far...
  1. Charles, put down the pipe and come back to us. Did you mean to write this for April Ist? Have a nice day.

    Posted by KENE November 6, 08 08:47 AM
  1. good lord you're an idiot

    Posted by Anonymous November 6, 08 12:02 PM
  1. It hasn't been decriminalized yet. I know we are all excited, but take it easy.

    Posted by Dan November 6, 08 12:23 PM
  1. Charles, you sure you did'nt smoke the grass that was on the bottom of thm shoes?

    Posted by Anonymous November 6, 08 02:49 PM
  1. Too the Celtics??? Danny Ainge would have to take 10 hits of acid, before he'd even consider it. Anyway I'll take a developing Gabe Pruit long before Starbury any day. Are you sure you really know anything about Basketball? This guy is going to be lucky to find a job in Europe let alone the NBA.

    Posted by Gman November 6, 08 05:14 PM
  1. You truly are an idiot Pierce,, thanks for wasting a minute of my day. And to think i thought this article had substance. I should have known, Look who its written by.

    Posted by Mike G November 6, 08 07:11 PM
  1. Charles, you mean well, but you don't foul up good chemistry by adding acid. Leave the Celts as is. Spend more time teaching Perkins, T. Allen, and the rest of the cast the finer points of championship play. Oh wait, they already know that.

    Posted by Marv Sibulklin November 6, 08 07:22 PM

    Posted by GEORGE STEINBERG November 6, 08 10:08 PM
  1. NO NO NO. Stay away from Starburry. He is a team cancer.

    Posted by TOM November 6, 08 10:25 PM
  1. Ainge believes that no-one with talent is unsalvageable. Stephon will be walking into the first locker room in his career where he is WILDLY outranked by several others in the room. Bottom line. You ever see The dog Whisperer? These dogs that dominate don't want to, but as Cesar Milan says, "They want to follow, they just don't see anyone leading or attempting to put them in their place." Stephon is a wild dog that can be a serious particpant and brings things basketball wise that our 2nd unit does not have.As Pierce said two months ago, "Steph needs to be a part of a good veteran team ... like us."

    Charlie Titus

    Posted by Anonymous November 6, 08 11:00 PM
  1. I hope you aren't getting paid to write this crap...how do people like you even get jobs?

    Posted by Rondo November 7, 08 12:23 AM
  1. Wait, wait, don't tell me. You don't know jacksh*t about basketball. Hell Charlie, why not get Ron Artest while were at it. Cancer belongs in a hospital not on a basketball court.

    Posted by hdsnake November 7, 08 01:46 AM
  1. You're the kind of guy who would advise Tina to take Ike back, aren't you? Do your research, Charles. Every season Marbury makes a claim of change. He's riding the bench partially because D'antoni spoke with the players before the season and was told just how wretched the team chemistry was.

    Posted by DW November 7, 08 07:10 AM
  1. Gee, I guess the consensus is that folks didn't like the column, eh?

    Posted by Chas November 7, 08 07:10 AM
  1. nicely done. i enjoyed reading the article. thank you very much.

    well written and funny. farcical prose for a farcical person and a farcical situation.

    enjoy those shoes. i know i am enjoying life more as the knicks sink deeper and deeper. sometimes life is indeed good.

    Posted by antonio gramsci November 7, 08 07:24 AM
  1. I didn't want Iverson and I don't want Marbury. True, the Celts don't have a muscular Baron Davis type of PG, but paying a ton for a guy who will spend most of his time on the bench grousing doesn't sound like much of a benefit.

    Posted by gene bocknek November 7, 08 08:35 AM
  1. WHAT?!?

    Posted by harevetter November 7, 08 09:24 AM
  1. Calm down. I thought it was pretty funny.

    Posted by Celtfan November 7, 08 09:27 AM
  1. Would You really rather have Marbury on the floor than Eddie House? I think not.

    Posted by Ronnie Hammond November 7, 08 09:28 AM
  1. Hey it would be good for Sam Cassell's ego to have someone he can actually beat to the basket in practice. But it wouldn't be good for the team. We are looking for players who are talented Defensively.
    The C's should really make a push to acquire McDyess, he would be perfect. Basically a (slightly) younger version of PJ Brown.

    Posted by Anonymous November 7, 08 09:36 AM
  1. he has been a cancer not once not twice but every team he has been on
    he didn't want to play with KG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    what makes you think he has matured?
    was it the pouting on the bench with the towel over his head or
    was it quitting on his team mid flight because he wasn't starting
    the charity work i'll give him credit for but to bring him to a team
    that excels with chemistry. i can't believe you actually took the time to
    think about it. even more you wrote it

    Posted by rick st. jean November 7, 08 09:59 AM
  1. I don't find this article as ridiculous as most of these readers, it's an interesting idea, except for the fact that Eddie House pretty much fits the bill of shoot-first backup PG already. If anything, a durable veteran backup center should be higher on the wish-list, I'm not exactly sold on big baby playing the 5 yet.

    Posted by Ted November 7, 08 10:27 AM
  1. Marbury still would be an upgrade over Scal... He could still be the 3rd or fourth guard on the team.i dont see cassell contributing this year.Lets keep in mind he does have talent.Someone always has to be the scapegoat but he didnt hold a gun to there head for the 21 million he is owed.Marbury has been over paid his entire career by several GM'S i dont think the negative attitude will fly here because of KG.PP.RA . So i look at it as little risk (league min) high reward.You never know when injuries will creep up

    Posted by TOO SMOOTH November 7, 08 10:36 AM
  1. in a perfect world adding marbury to boston would help the second unit with some more scoring but alas we live in a imperfect world and a leopard doent change his spots so steer clear of this leopard

    Posted by jjv November 7, 08 10:42 AM
  1. The other night on the pre-game show they were trying to pump up Tony Allen by showing a preseason highlight of him losing his man on a well-executed screen. Problem is, the guy covering him on the play was Marbury--and you could tell he wasn't paying any attention whatsoever to his defensive responsibilities on the play. Why inflict that kind of guy on Doc, Thibodeau, and the C's players, esp. Gabe Pruitt?

    And why are you raking leaves in basketball shoes?

    Posted by Section 306 November 7, 08 10:46 AM
  1. Regardless of what people think of Marbury, he's still good.

    I think that he would make a great addition to the team, if he acts right, if not send him packing.

    Who know's this could work out, and for the Gman, to say that Gabe Pruitt, would be better than Marbury. No way. Gabe will be lucky if he ever has a season, half as good as Marbury had during the glory years.

    Everyone gets mad at Marbury, but look at the Knicks. They are a joke. They draft the biggest Dud, since Michael Olowokandi. I would be mad to. The Knicks have zero talent, demonstrated by Nate Robinson being the high scorer, on a daily basis.
    We need Marbury.

    PG Stephan Marbury
    SG Ray Allen
    SF Paul Pierce
    PF Kevin Garnett
    C Kendrick Perkins/Leon Powe.
    Regardless of what he brings to the table, players still respect the name.
    And if Marbury, stinks keep him on the bench.

    Now that's a team.

    Posted by DougHenry November 7, 08 11:10 AM
  1. The Celtics need Marbury more than we know.

    PG Stephan Marbury
    SG Ray Allen
    SF Paul Pierce
    PF Kevin Garnett
    C Kendrick Perkins

    Now that's a championship team. The Knicks are terrible, I don't blame him at all. The made the worst pick since Olowakandi. Danny Ainge needs to get Stephan to secure another championship. Stephan will not be cancer, if we win. That's why he is a cancer, because he's tired of playing for half-rate teams, with poor management.


    Posted by CelticsFan4Life November 7, 08 11:35 AM
  1. It might sound absurd, but I think the jury is still out on Marbury. He at least can understand and admit the errors of his ways. Whether he's learned from and corrected them is another matter. But, it's worth the risk. Granted, it would be a public relations reclammation project of the first order far exceeding that pulled off for Randy Moss, but it can be done. He would be surrounded by veterans on a team and franchise with great tradition and one defending a championship. I think the Celts need more than what they have, if they're going to repeat. I would prefer adding McDyess, but Marbury would definitely help. The Celts, showed in the playoffs they can turn arctic cold from the perimeter and can't hit the broad-side of a barn for minutes on end. Their defense saved them, but it won't this year. They need an outside shooter. Marbury's presence would give Ray better looks too. Marbury would add some offense that departed with Posey's perimeter game. You need to take some chances to repeat. The Lakers are not going to go down so easy this year. Sign him, warts, head-art and all.

    Posted by pete22 November 7, 08 12:38 PM
  1. People say Marbury's a cancer,why? Because his teams haven't gone far?? You could say that about most point gaurds. Is it because he pouts when he loses? Imagine being a winner all your life (high school,college) then being stuck on some terrible teams (Paul Pierce comes to mind.) I've even heard he scores too much. Last I checked, the person who scores the most points wins. You mean to tell me there's not one coach who could use someone who scores too much. I know one, Doc Rivers! His second unit is coming into it's own, I love those guys, but Marbury would make them even more dangerous. As for the bad character crap.... we already have Ray Allen, Grant Hill's about the only other angel out there. Everyone else is a risk. lol

    Posted by Derick Grant November 7, 08 01:06 PM
  1. i have fallen and I can't get up.
    can someone else please cut the power lines going to Charles Pierce's home?

    thank you.

    Posted by Anonymous November 7, 08 01:50 PM
  1. i have fallen and I can't get up.
    can someone else please cut the power lines going to Charles Pierce's home?

    thank you.

    Posted by DK November 7, 08 01:50 PM
  1. A shoot-first point guard that doesn't play a lick of defense. What a great fit for this Celtics team. Let's start him instead of Rondo? You people are insane.

    Posted by VoiceOfReason November 7, 08 01:53 PM
  1. If someone, reply into this after me...
    Then your the most nonsense person than the author itself..

    Posted by Im an idiot-but i can read and understand November 7, 08 03:23 PM
  1. From a literary standpoint, I'm rather impressed by this befuddled Forrest Gumpish character Charlie Pierce has created. Frugal, rakes leaves in basketball shoes, utters random movie quotes...thinks there's nothing that a championship team needs more than a stiff dose of cancer...

    Posted by CW November 7, 08 03:26 PM
  1. Hey, Voice of Reason

    A shoot-first point guard, will allow KG, Perk, among others to do their jobs and grab offensive rebounds, providing Marbury misses the shot.

    Defenders don't even play Rondo, it's like 4 on 5 basketball on offensive end all the time. Rondo shoots the ball, like a 6th grader at best.

    You can always work on defense, but you can't drastically improve pure offensive talent. That's the difference. That's why we need Marbury. Are you insane?

    Posted by CelticsFan4Life November 7, 08 04:01 PM
  1. These comments are WAAAAAAAYYY better than this article. Much more entertaining and fact filled. Does Charles T. Pierce need to change his name to
    "Basketball T. Wacko?". I think he should!

    Posted by Jim Phillips November 8, 08 11:51 AM
  1. Two things in scant supply among the mouthreaders here: an appreciation for Irony and Sarcasm.

    Funny stuff, Chuck!

    Posted by Lost in Saunderstown November 8, 08 01:54 PM
  1. Sure, Marbury, why not? And, while you are at it, I am sure that we could coax Dennis Rodman out of retirement, er, jail. But, then, you would have to hire Dr. Phil as an assistant coach in charge of mental cases.

    Posted by JoeC November 10, 08 07:16 PM
  1. marbury might have something left in the tank, but i'll take rondo and pruitt. these guys better start shooting from the point guard spot though.

    Posted by Anonymous November 11, 08 06:19 PM
  1. As a 50 year Celtic fan living in New York I have one word for you...moron!!!!!!!

    Posted by Ralph Cor November 12, 08 10:08 PM
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Charles P. Pierce writes for the Boston Globe Magazine. A long-time sportswriter and columnist, Pierce is a frequent guest on national TV and radio.
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