Marbury’s Basketball Diplomacy Loosens Chinese American Trade Deadlock

Could Coney Island basketball legend Stephon Marbury be the person to break the ongoing Chinese and American trade war that is roiling world markets amid international tension?

American and Chinese Basketball legend Stephon Marbury with longtime Brooklyn AAU Coach Thomas Sicignano. Photo by Kimari Clarke.

Marbury, a Lincoln High School, NBA and Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) legend, stopped at Brooklyn Borough Hall yesterday to introduce the Borough President Eric Adams to 22 children from China who will be playing in the very first international summer camp “A Stronger Me, A Stephon Marbury NYC Basketball Camp” at the Barclays Center this summer. 

After a 13-year all-star career in the NBA, the point guard went to China where he played for nine years in the basketball-crazy country, won MVPs and championships and became such a legend that there is a statue of Marbury in Beijing. He is currently the head coach of the Beijing Royal Fighters.  

“The difference with playing in China and playing here is that you’re playing against people in the whole world when in the United States NBA, but in China, it’s just players from China so the competition is definitely different. That’s why we want to give them [Chinese children] an inside on how we play here and allow them to get into that kind of competitive mindset,” said Marbury.

Marbury’s basketball diplomacy comes amid the biggest trade war in history impeding between China and the United States, China’s economic growth has slowed to 6.2%; the lowest its been in 27 years due to the 25% tariff that the Trump administration imposed on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports since April of last year. China retaliated by lowering the value of its currency.

The country has also been issuing warnings to students who wish to study abroad in the United States by highlighting the increase in the number of rejected US Visa applications and the limitations to the duration of the visas that are given.

Marbury would not comment on the ongoing trade war, but said he decided to create a cultural bridge by creating a basketball camp along with the Asian Community United Society and Brooklyn Basketball USA in an effort to allow young Chinese kids to experience American basketball.

Marbury stated that he wanted the kids to be able to understand the game of basketball from an American point of view as it benefited him greatly growing up and learning the game in Brooklyn. He feels like the opportunity will allow the kids to see how life is someplace else and possibly get the opportunity to even go to school here. 

These Chinese youth basketball players will get a taste of basketball American style come Saturday at Barclays Center. Photo by Kimari Clarke.

While the students participating in Marbury’s camp aren’t of age to study at the collegiate level, it is important to understand whether the effects of this trade war could affect them in the long run if they choose to stay and pursue their academics. It shows how short-term visas would negatively affect their studies while playing basketball if given the opportunity to stay longer in the states. 

During the camp, the kids will be able to receive guidance from Marbury and coaching from Thomas Sicignano representing the Brooklyn Basketball USA organization.

Sicignano, born and raised in Bensonhurst, has been coaching youth basketball for over 26 years and has successfully helped 13 players make it to the NBA through his leadership and coaching skills.

Sicignano spoke highly of Marbury and recalls his years coaching him at the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) and him coming from a very loving and giving family which explains his yearning to give back to kids like him who are interested in the game.

The summer camp will kick off with the first games slated for between 8 – 11 a.m., this Sunday at the Barclays Center where the team will play against various AAU teams from here in the United States.

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