Kobe Bryant is parading around the league on a farewell tour, but ex-NBA guard Stephon Marbury thinks the Los Angeles Lakers legend should continue his professional career in a different country.
Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports writes Marbury said Bryant should join the Chinese Basketball Association and play in front of beyond-adoring fans.
“They love him here. It is a little bit past love. It would be like the biggest thing ever in basketball here. It would be beyond huge. Beyond big. I would definitely encourage it. … They love basketball here. You can’t control the excitement.”
Marbury admitted the competition level is lower, “but it’s still competition.” And it doesn’t take much effort to confirm that.
The 38-year-old guard last appeared in the NBA six years ago, yet Marbury is dominating the Chinese circuit. He’s won three championships with the Beijing Ducks, earning CBA Finals MVP in 2015. Marbury has also tallied six straight All-Star nods.
He’s recorded 19.3 points, 6.5 assists and 4.9 rebounds this season for Beijing, which is 10-7 on the year. Most impressively, though, Spears notes just how popular Marbury is.
“There is a Marbury statue in front of an arena in Beijing. There was a play based on his life, starring himself. Countless Marbury sneakers have been sold. There was a postage stamp made in his honor. A Marbury museum is also scheduled to open — a first for an athlete in Beijing — on Dec. 21.”
Bryant certainly could put up the same numbers, and just imagine what the future Hall of Famer would receive. The CBA might offer Bryant a spot as player-commissioner.
The move overseas doesn’t seem likely to happen, but Bryant absolutely has a large fan base already in place and a history of promoting his brand in China.
A Marbury-Bryant combination would be fun to watch, even if only for a single game.