BEIJING — Who is the best foreign player in the CBA? Before the season started, we talked about this topic. At least for now, we’ve got the answer: Stephon Marbury, whether on or off the court.
His stats are not as dazzling as those of J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler, but the Beijing Ducks, Marbury’s team, are still unbeaten after their first 10 games.
Opening 10-0 is a record for this club.
Without any doubt, Marbury is the best player and the leader of this team. Chen Lei, the captain of Ducks, said: “I have never played with such a great player as Marbury. He is a great player and a great teammate. He always likes to create shots for us, but when we can’t score, he’ll stand out. Every game, every time.”
The Ducks’ coach, Min Lulei, said he was at a loss for words on Marbury. “I can’t convey my feelings in words. I just want to say, coaching Marbury brings me luckiness and happiness.”
But what I want you to know today is not how brave he is on court, but what a warm story Marbury has been off the basketball court.
Yuanyuan, an 11-year old fan of Marbury, is not able to watch her hero play because she has had hemophagocytic syndrome. After a medullary transplant operation, the adorable girl is still suffering from the rejection.
She still has a tube in her arms, but there is no expression of pain on her face. She is waiting for Marbury, her favorite basketball star.
She has been waiting for so long for this day. Since her request to see her idol, her father had done everything he could. He asked Marbury on Weibo (Chinese Twitter), but there was no response that day, for Marbury was on a road trip with the Ducks. The next day, more people saw the calling from the father and forwarded it. Then a few journalists directly told Marbury, who was preparing for the game against J.R. Smith’s team at that time. He asked his friends to give Yuanyuan a phone call, let her know that he would visit her as soon as he returned to Beijing.=
After a three-game road trip, it had been five days. During those five days, Yuanyuan got a haircut — her first one in recent years, and got dressed up in her best clothes.
Marbury went to the hospital after the morning training ended. He held the child in his arms tightly when he saw the girl, for a long time. He explained the long-lasting hug: “I told myself not to cry before coming here. But I can’t help it when I see her skinny body. So I just hold her in my arms, because I don’t want her to see my tears.”
Yuanyuan is more chirpy and strong than Marbury thought. Touching his muscle, she said:” Wow, it’s much harder than my dad’s.” Marbury replied:” I have hard muscle because I play basketball. But your dad has a strong heart. He loves you more than any people in the world.”
He could not be in her company for the whole day, since he had to get back to his team. He promised another get-together before he left, and he remembered her birthday: “November 13rd, I will always remember it. As long as I continue living in China, and there is no game and training that day, I will be with you on your next birthday.”
The girl was so happy and asked him to hook fingers to confirm the promise.
Marbury felt a kind of power which is so strong from the girl who is so weak. The girl, who is not able to eat because of the pain it causes, welcomed him with warm and shinning smile. He said he hopes she can get back to school, to a normal life which an 11-year-old girl should have as soon as possible.
Later that day, Yuanyuan ate the most amount of food she had consumed in a long time.
Guan Weijia is a columnist for Titan Sports, The Beijing News and qq.com. His columns for SheridanHoops.com appear every Friday.