More or less, for Stephon Marbury.
The mercurial (love that word) guard arrived in Boston at 5 AM, was at the Garden by 8:30, and spent most of the day finalizing his contract and taking a physical. He practiced with the team for about an hour before meeting the media before the game. During that pregame talk, he stressed that the past is the past, and he’s here to win a championship (good job Steph, PR 101).
The game itself was certainly interesting. Stephon entered the game with 19 seconds left in the 1st quarter and his first run lasted 5:08. His entry into the game was highlighted by a standing ovation from the crowd, which Marbury acknowledged by waving his arm and high fiving a young boy sitting courtside. Marbury ran the point, with Eddie House playing the off guard. Stephon hit a jump shot, but had a difficult time guarding Indiana’s Brandon Rush, a much taller player. When I talked to Stephon after the game, he told me he was definitely surprised (and pleased) by the warm reaction from the crowd. He said he simply got caught up in the excitement when he delivered the high five of a lifetime for that little boy (I’d be bragging if I were that kid, it was cute). We also talked about how he was going to have to get used to guarding bigger guards if he was going to play more shooting guard than point (which was weird, because Marbury played point guard, yet he was guarded by the Pacers’ 2 guards early – this changed later). He said he would rely on his quickness to keep up.
Marbury really got the crowd going when he re-entered the game in the fourth quarter. He scored 6 more points on a jumper and two layups that put the Celtics up for good, In the end, Marbury played about 12 minutes, scoring 8 points on 4 of 5 shooting. After the game, Stephon joked about how tired his legs felt, and how the only thing that mattered was that the team won. It was also funny to watch Big Baby squirm in his locker as the media swarmed around Stephon (their lockers are next to each other). Don’t worry Glen, we’ll thin out after a couple of games 🙂
For all of the concerns I have about this acquisition, it seems pretty obvious to me that Marbury knows if nothing else, he had better say all the right things, because for the short money he’s getting, the Celtics won’t hesitate to cut him if he becomes a problem. So for now, I say this is a move worth making, because the potential benefits are too much to pass up. Let’s hope the thrill of finally shedding his “loser” label is enough to convince Marbury to stick to his role and be a good sport. His quest for a big payday next year will be easy enough if he has a big championship ring on his finger.