Don't look now, but a basketball dynasty is blossoming in Beijing, and the only man who was brash enough to dream it -- to, indeed, articulate that dream -- was the pride of Coney Island, Stephon Marbury.
The Xinjiang Flying Tigers may have lost the CBA championship to the Beijing Ducks, but Xinjiangers around the world came away from the games with a powerful meme. It came at the end of Game 5, after the Tigers rallied and pulled off an improbable win in front of a hostile Beijing crowd of 18,000. Shiralijan, the star Uyghur point guard for the Tigers who had been tasked with defending Stephan Marbury -- the star of the Ducks (and best player in the league, according to Anthony Tao!) --threw the ball in the air and raised a twirling, emphatic fist:
The Beijing Ducks won the CBA championship last night in Xinjiang, beating the Flying Tigers 98-88 in Game 6. Here are some photos and a video of the celebration. The top image, by the way, is now Stephon Marbury's profile pic on Sina Weibo:
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.
The Xinjiang Guang Hui Flying Tigers are flying high. Riding the phenomenal success of their imported stars, Americans Lester Hudson and James Singleton and a Taiwanese player named Yang Jinmin, the support of China national team players such as the Uyghur point guard Shiralijan (Xi-re-li-jiang) and the Han center Tang Zhengdong, they're back in the Chinese Basketball Association finals for the fourth time in six years -- but the first since 2011, when Quicy Douby took them within two wins of a championship.
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).
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.
Dennis Rodman sang Happy Birthday to Kim Jong-un, who then watched as his country's basketball team beat Dennis Rodman's USA team on Wednesday in Pyongyang. That's according to Koryo Tours general manager Simon Cockerell, who reports that "the DPRK team emerged triumphant" in a 20-minute game, played as two 10-minute halves.
The CBA is back, and thank goodness. As featured on Deadspin, here's Ivan Johnson, 29, doing a celebratory dance that in the NBA would have set him back 15 grand, because no one in corporate appreciates the Big Balls Dance.
This was ugly. The Sichuan Blue Whales, playing its first CBA game in 15 years, having just been promoted from the second-tier National Basketball League in September, lost by 53 points on Friday. The previous CBA record for most lopsided season-opener was a mere 40 points, nearly 25 percent less than Sichuan's deficit.
"His shooting is perfect," said a fan at the MasterCard Arena (Wukesong) in Beijing on Tuesday before the Golden State Warriors tipped off against the Los Angeles Lakers. He was talking, of course, about Steph Curry.
The Houston Jeremy Lins played the Indiana Pacers in an exhibition in Taipei on Sunday, and as you might expect, a capacity crowd was firmly behind the Jeremy Lins from the start. Some highlights are above.
On Sunday, the 25-member Chinese Basketball Association committee unanimously approved the league's newest team, the Sichuan Blue Whales, who will begin play this fall. Last year the Whales competed in the National Basketball League, China's second-tier basketball association, and finished fourth with a 12-6 record.
We haven't checked in with Jeremy Lin for a while, but it appears he's been busy. Currently in Taiwan, Lin gave an emotional speech at a youth camp recently about his struggles last season in his first full season as a starter. SI.com's Point Forward blog has this excerpt, via a two-hour video on YouTube.
Panagiotis Giannakis, former head coach of the Greek basketball team, arrived in May to begin a four-year contract to lead the Chinese basketball team through the 2014 FIBA World Championships in Spain and the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. As of this writing, however -- following a blowout loss to Chinese Taipei in the quarterfinals of the FIBA Asia Championship two weeks ago -- it doesn't look like Giannakis will survive the month.