Basketball legend and Coney Island native Stephon Marbury said Sunday he would be hesitant to act as a diplomatic icebreaker in the ongoing trade deadlock between China and the U.S.
Marbury is currently the head coach of the Beijing Royal Fighters in the Chinese Basketball Association. After a 13-year NBA all-star career, the Lincoln High School 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 him in Beijing.
He’s back in Brooklyn this summer with 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 Sunday as the kids went through practice, Marbury demured was asked if he would play a role in the ongoing trade dispute.
“The politics is the politics and the basketball life is the basketball life. One doesn’t affect the other in this case. We just want the kids to have fun with sports,” said Marbury.
Marbury’s comments came as parents and their children from all over the borough gathered at the Barclays Center on Sunday to participate in the 1st International Basketball Camp that the basketball legend created.
The children also had the privilege of practicing under the guidance of Bensonhurst native Thomas “Ziggy” Sicignano from 8-11 a.m. on the main floor of the arena where the Brooklyn Nets compete in the NBA.
The kids who participated were separated into different age groups ranging from 9-13 years-old. They played back to back games to strengthen their skills and endurance, understand the importance of teamwork and build their stamina by playing back to back games. Marbury sat on the sidelines with the some of the teenage players that he sponsored from China with a huge smile on his face as he watched the kids run back and forth on the hardwood.
When asked about he felt about the camp that he created coming to fruition, Marbury felt very positive about the camp being successful. “Ziggy connected us to the right people and has allowed the kids the opportunity to be able to understand how we play here in Brooklyn,” he said.
While speaking to the children at the end of the day’s camp, in a touching moment, Sicignano decided to present Stephon with a medal that Marbury gave to his father prior to him passing away. A medal that he got as an All-Star Player in the 1995 Magic Johnson Roundball Classic when he was still in high school.
The Roundball Classic is well known in the sports world as the first national All-Star basketball game for high school students. Marbury won the medal for the Outstanding Player in the tournament. His father gave it to Sicignano as a gift and in an emotional moment, Sicignano returned the medal back to Marbury and suggested he place the metal in the House of Marbury Museum created in Beijing in honor of the legend.
The next set of games will take place in Staten Island tonight and then in Red Hook on Thursday.