Beijing is again king of Chinese basketball. The Ducks beat the Xinjiang Flying Tigers 98-88 tonight in Urumqi, clinching the CBA championship 4 games to 2. Stephon Marbury and Randolph Morris, who played so shockingly poorly in Game 5 in Beijing that I heard more than one person say they threw the game (14 points each, combined 7 for 38 from the field), redeemed themselves by scoring 28 and 30 points, respectively.
Believe it or not, a 37-year-old point guard from Coney Island, New York who played 13 years in the NBA is putting the city of Beijing on his back.
With one CBA championship on his resume -- and a statue outside MasterCard Center -- Stephon Marbury already is a Chinese basketball living legend. So what happens if he wins another, all while averaging 28 points per game this postseason on a bum knee?
The professional basketball team in Beijing is called the Ducks, but I don't see why. It should be the Beijing Stephon Marburies. There is no player more valuable to his team -- not Yi Jianlian for Guangdong, not Doug McDermott for Creighton, not even LeBron James for Miami -- than Marbury is to Beijing, and if you needed any proof, just fire up last night's decisive Game 5 of the CBA semifinals, which saw the Ducks beat the Guangdong Southern Tigers 110-102 in Dongguan.
Nick Bedard of Basketball Buddha is courtside on press row at MasterCard Center, aka Wukesong, for tonight's Game 4 clash between the Beijing Ducks (23-11 regular season, No. 4 in standings) and Guangdong Southern Tigers (30-4, No. 1). Thanks to an epic performance from Stephen Marbury on Saturday in an overtime win, Beijing currently has a 2 games to 1 lead in this best three-out-of-five series. We now join our regularly scheduled Bedard in progress.
Stephon Marbury may have turned in his finest CBA performance -- and it came against the best team in the league, the defending CBA champion Guangdong Southern Tigers. With his head bandaged for the last four minutes of the fourth quarter and through overtime -- the result of a gash sustained during one of his trademark drives to the basket -- the 37-year-old finished Saturday night with 43 points on 13-for-20 shooting (including 4-for-8 from behind the arc).
The first event of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia begins in about twelve hours, with the opening ceremony happening on Friday at 8 pm Sochi time (midnight for those in China). By now you've probably already decided to watch on the decent chance that it becomes a delightful disaster, but lost in all the stories about stray dogs, toilets, substandard facilities and Potemkin villages is the fact that sports will be on display.
After sitting out more than two months with an injury and missing 22 games, Beijing Ducks superstar point guard Stephon Marbury returned to the court last night against the Shandong Flaming Bulls in his team's first game of the new lunar year.
It was an eventful night, to say the very least.
In last year's Australian Open Final, Li Na repeatedly halted play for the eager crowd of tennis aficionados. Not that they minded. Alongside her game, she endeared herself to the tennis public following a couple of ankle rolls, a clutzy head bang, and her comical approach to a concussion test.
China, your girl is the crowd favourite.
The above was tweeted by Sports Illustrated's Jon Wertheim a couple of days ago. Take a look at that Rolex ad on the official website of the Australian Open, which reads, "Rolex congratulates Li Na on winning her first Australian Open and second Grand Slam title."
We hope Li Na doesn't believe in jinxes, because she plays this afternoon against Dominika Cibulkova for a chance to win her first Australian Open and second Grand Slam title. The game is at 4:30 pm local (China) time.