When I told my friends and family about my plans to Travel to Beijing, the first question I was asked was always how I was going to deal with being in a new city on the other side of the world with no concrete plans outside of my Beijing Flights.  I usually responded with one snarky remark or another, but then I realized that it wasn’t the first time a guy from New York made a new life on the other side of the world.  Stephon Marbury, like me, was born in Brooklyn and, like me, now lives on the other side of the world in Beijing, China.  However, unlike me, Stephon Marbury is a basketball champion on two continents.  Even so, he still serves as an inspiration to a kid from Brooklyn far away from home.

Marbury riding the Beijing subway

Riding tall on the Beijing subway

Back in 2000 when I was only ten my father took me to see Stephon Marbury and the New Jersey Nets play the Milwaukie Bucks.  Both teams were having comically bad years, and neither had any player whose name I still remember except for Marbury.  He had joined the NBA a few years earlier, and was just starting to come into his own.  After the game I waited for Marbury to try to get his autograph, and when he finally came out I was so excited I could barely stand still.  I handed him my pen and my Marbury Basketball Card, and with shaking hands dropped the pen I was trying to hand him.  The pen shattered along with my little heart.  Marbury saw what happened, ran off to the locker room, came back with a new pen, and signed my card.  From that point on I was a Nets fan for life.  Marbury went on to become an All-Star.

Fast forward twelve years, and the more things change the more they stay the same.  I had just arrived in Beijing and was

going to see the Forbidden City and who else do I see adorning the walls of the subways but Stephon Marbury.  Stephon was another kid from Brooklyn trying to make it on the other side of the world, and boy has he succeeded.  Now he plays on the Beijing Ducks, and he has turned the team around to become a major force in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA).  The ducks went on to win the 2011-2012 championship, and to honor Marbury a statue was built in his honor outside of the MasterCard Center (formally known as The Beijing Wukesong Culture & Sports Center) where the basketball events were held in the 2008 Olympics.

Marbury's statue in Beijing

Imitating his own statue

When you travel to Beijing I highly recommend you make time to see a Beijing Ducks game.  You’ll be able to see one of Basketballs greatest players once more, meet some locals, and enjoy a little bit of home on the other side of the world.  And be sure to take a triumphant picture next to his statue because like Marbury, you can make it anywhere in the world.

Jack Li
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