Is Marbury’s likely addition to the Celtics going to be sweet and sticky or soft and brown? Gotta be the question on most people’s minds in Beantown these days. While most reactions to this move is quite violently against (and some for) I’m reminded of why I like basketball in the first place. Its every bit as much an athletic game as it is a social/political/mental affair.
In no other team sport can one player so drasticly affect an outcome or demeanor of a team for better or for worse. Witness Rasheed Wallace moving from Portland to Detroit and promptly delivering a championship as the massive underdogs vs a team with 4 hall of famers. Witness Allen Iverson dimantle that same team with his swap for Billups. The Gasol trade put the Lakers into the finals and every team Marbury has done much better on his exit. Team chemistry and it’s prerequisite for rings is what led Jerry Krause to state “Management wins championships” with history’s greatest player on his team. (Maybe the greatest overstatement in NBA history.)
He had a point though: no poorly managed team has ever won. So whats the secret to the Krause Keibler Kookies. (you tell me he doesn’t look like he’s about to take the apron and hat off. http://www.nba.com/media/bulls/krause_050819.jpg or for that matter, Jerry Reinsdorf. http://chicagofantasybaseballcamp.com/images/ReisndorfJerry010.jpg)
Its really not that difficult a formula to steal. All successful teams do one thing.
They research players to match their personalities at this specific time with a role on their team. And thats all. If it doesn’t match, they don’t do it. Sheed’s contending team had been destroyed and populated with children. He wanted to go to work with men and win. Dumars saw that. He saw Wallace and Larry Brown both being Dean Smith diciples and already agreeing on how the game should be played. He saw someone angry at all the bullshit and wanting to harden a team that wouldn’t be intimidated by him. Which is exactly what the Pistons were, and sheed what they wern’t. It was as much Sheed’s attitude as his skills that put them over the top and made them one of the best defensive teams of all time. It was his identity they needed to bring out Ben Wallace’s hard hat that held so many teams under 70 and 80 points.
So what are the Celtics thinking? Why waste a roster spot on a team cancer? Is Danny Ainge crazy? Is Marbury crazy? Steph has been team cancer’s GOAT for years now however I think Danny is not looking at his past. When pondering his team he knows he’s got the best starting 5 in the L. But past that, Tony Allen (injured)/Scalenbrine/House/Big Baby, they’re the question mark. Their body language on the court screams they feel lucky to play with the first 5 guys and are just killing time till the real team gets on the court so they could stop inconviencing everyone with the bench let down.
But only last year some of these same players would bring it. Big Baby had pivotal stretches where he carried the team. But then they also had vets like PJ Brown/Posey/Cassall who as pros, know how to enter a game and play motiviated. So again, Marbury??? He’s never been that.
Marbury is however one pissed off guy. He’s been stewing for a year on a career thats been made a spectacle of in his home town. Except this one is not all his fault due to the worst GM in NBA history. His sex life was dragged through a court of justice and opinion in the papers by the same GM/Owner who built a terrible team around him and let him take the heat for it. Then told him to go away when they hired someone competent (Dantoni) to finally run the team. More face lost.
He’s always produced great numbers but always ruined his teams. So what’s in the kool aid Ainge? Here it is. When Steph gets on the court he’s going to have the largest chip on his shoulder a player can have. He’s out to prove something. And he’s gonna have the munchies. But all that anger is going to be directed away from their team outward, so inwardly he’s going to smile at the opportunity to finally let off his steam.
Whats boston lacking on the bench? Someone who’s got anything to prove. The current bench knows they win and lose with the starters. Its Marbury’s x-factor. He’s got so much to prove coming off the pine he just might take a few of the scrubs along with him and form a second unit. Theres no hunger in Boston 6 through 12 and Marbury (capable or not) is champing at the bit. He’s the NBA’s equivelent of Micky Rourke stealing the spotlight in Sin City. He wanted to be back so much after so destroying everything around him he just needed the right situation to prove he still had it.
And thats what Danny Ainge knows he has: a situation perfectly suited for the most malaigned player in the league to right the ship. No team is better from Marbury’s stand point. Ainge is just hoping he can deliver and that the reasons outweigh the excueses for his Stephon’s past failures.
You also have to consider how GM’s in the past have failed, as I’m sure Ainge has. Does Marbury deserve all the blame? Looking to put Marbury in a leadership situation on a young team (Phoenix) when he’s proven he’s quite immature himself is not how to be successfull and catagorically a management mistake. When you consider that his past PHX team had Marion on it (whom Kerr gave away for Shaq due to his own immature issues) and Amare (who’s immaturity is well documented) you have to wonder what the suns were thinking at the time.
The other glaring GM error tainting Marbury’s career is how teams were bulit around him. Surrounding him with weak big men and players way past their prime like Penny Hardaway, Eddy Curry, undersized (and trigger happy) Jayson Williams, Gheorge Mursean, Steve Francis. Just a few examples of who teams have experimented with and not surprisingly to their detrement.
Then you also have to consider that Marbury’s prime existed mostly before the rules were changed. Had he been drafted in 2003 instead of 1996 he would be in the crop of totally dominant perimeter players we see today. Marbury was dominant in an era where rules dictated that big men dominated the game and Marbury’s center was the aforementioned Big Gheorge who’s career year was the one you entered the league. Not to make excuses for him: his own behaviour is the worst card his career hand has been dealt, but its tough to win when your starting center goes in and out of games because his ‘giantism’ is acting up.
So, do we need to cut Marbury, unquestionably the most recgonized NBA team killer in the world, some slack? Maybe not: Steph has done a lot of dumb stuff. Thats before you consider ‘Stars On Stars’ his talk show that rivals Chevy Chase and Magic himself for worst hour of tv ever. Keep in mind how easy it is for Steph ro redeem himself too. All he needs to really do is simply take over and win one playoff game. Maybe even one third quarter. Thats it and he will be a playoff hero akin to PJ Brown last year.
But maybe, just maybe, Steph is a little misunderstood. He did have history’s worst GM. Point Marbury. He broke up him and KG, but he was a stupid kid at that point: I’m sure he’d admit as much. None the less: point team killer. But things are different this time around, because he’s going to a championship team with so much to prove, so little pressure to lead and lots to play for. Don’t be surprised if Steph finishes this season by shuting up a lot of doubters and finding a new contract. If he does, Danny Ainge will looks like a genius for filling his roster out with the perfect role players and bring home another championship. If not, he cuts Marbury and loses nothing more then he had. Low risk, high reward. And thats how you win.