The 2004 Summer Olympics was the USA’s worst showing in recent memory, and Stephon Marbury did not have a pleasant time in Athens.
Marbury was one of the 12 guys brought over to Greece during the summer of 2004. There, the United States went just 5-3 and came home with the bronze medal, and it was just the third time they won anything but the gold (1972, Germany; 1988 Seoul). Marbury was one of the better players on that team. Unfortunately, the former All-Star described the trip as “the worst 38 days of my life,” during a talk with Complex’s Matthew Wallace.
Having to deal with head coach Larry Brown only added to Marbury’s disdain. Brown went around asking players their goals for the tournament. When he got to Marbury, he thoroughly embarrassed him.
“By the time he got to me, everything was said that needed to be said,” Marbury says. “So I said, ‘Let’s also not forget that we need to have fun.’ And Larry goes, ‘Huh. Listen to this guy, talking about having fun!’”
Yup, sounds like Larry Brown. Over the next eight games, Marbury would average 10.5 points, 3.4 assists and 1.3 rebounds.
Doing the 2003-04 season, a 26-year-old Marbury split time with the Phoenix Suns before they traded him to the New York Knicks. He led the NBA with 719 assists, which worked out to 8.9 a night. On top of that, Marbury put up 20.2 points and 1.6 steals.
After the little incident between Brown and the lifelong Knicks fan, the organization decided to bring him on as the head coach for the 2005-06 season. Marbury wasn’t thrilled. “I begged Isiah not to bring him to the Knicks,” he said. “It was just unbearable, man. Nobody wanted to play for him. The whole energy was terrible. But it was the environment he wanted. Misery.”
Brown got the ax after one year. The Knicks finished 23-59, and Marbury’s decline was starting. His scoring dropped to 16.3 a night, and he handed out just 6.4 helpers — a career-low at that point.
Since his days in the NBA, Marbury has become a Chinese icon. In his short stay, he’s won a Finals MVP, a couple of championships and even has a statue that stands outside the Beijing Ducks’ arena.
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