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Let Bygones Be Bygones, Stephon

By Sarah Barton


OK, so maybe I'm kind of jumping on the Stephon Marbury to Boston bandwagon. (Keywords: maybe, kind of.) Or least I'm trying to. It's hard to think of him palling around with the Celtics after seeing him moping around with the Knicks. New York was willing to pay Marbury not to play. He was paid to be a distraction. And now he's almost a Celtic.

It seems that initially, a lot of folks thought that Marbury wouldn't be a great fit in Boston. Now that the deal is all but done, it seems that it's time to search for the bright side of the situation. At this point, it's really all we can do. Thus, I have come up with reasons not to be mortified by Marbury.

The Celtics rely on veteran leadership on and off the court, and won't tolerate nonsense. They've won before, they want to win again, and they will stop at nothing to do so. Stephon has to know that. Skipping games and fighting with Doc won't fly. Period.

Marbury has never won a playoff series, but is that entirely his fault? He has been to the playoffs with the Timberwolves, Suns, and Knicks. Not exactly the cream of the NBA crop. Marbury's career playoff averages are 19.4 points, 6.7 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.6 steals. That certainly won't hurt Boston come crunch time.

The February 9 issue of Sports Illustrated published the results of a poll which asked the following: Which NBA player thinks he's a lot better than he really is? The answer was not Stephon Marbury. Of 190 NBA players surveyed, 8% said Kendrick Perkins, tying him for most votes. If the Celtics can be successful despite Perks' big head, maybe a Celtic uniform can subdue Marbury's attitude.

Stephon can use this opportunity to prove all of his critics wrong. Proving them wrong may be as simple as playing his role, keeping a low profile, and helping the Celtics win. There's nothing wrong with that.

The Celtics really have no reason not to take him. Money is not an issue - the Celts paid Sam Cassell to model street clothes on the bench. If worst comes to worst, Marbury plays eight, nine, ten minutes a game - just enough to let Rondo catch a breather without putting shooting (not point) guard Eddie House in charge of the backcourt.

Who knows what will come of Gabe Pruitt's DUI arrest, but any fallout from that, plus Tony Allen's season-ending surgery, will leave Boston a bit weak in the guard spot. Marbury can immediately log some good minutes.

KG and Marbury will be reunited. Hopefully KG will be able to relate to Stephon in ways that other players can't. For months now, KG has openly supported putting Marbury in a Boston uniform. And what KG says, goes.

Even if Marbury hasn't played an NBA game in over a year, he has seen what the Celtics have accomplished and what they are all about. Guys get older, guys want a championship. Marbury is getting older, we can only assume he wants a ring. Where better than Boston to get it?

The most convincing reason I can find to support Marbury is that Boston does not need him in order to be successful. They've been winning without him all year. In theory, all he can do is help. If he does cause problems, he will find himself right back on the bench, or even off the team, and can pretty much kiss his NBA career goodbye.

So what's the best approach as a Celtics fan? Set the bar low and hope for the best? Set the bar high and hope for the best? Hunker down and assume the worst? I'm going to set the bar just a bit above mediocre (which pushes me out of my Marbury comfort zone) and hope for the best. Hopefully I'll look back on this silly article and wonder why I didn't expect the world from him. Hopefully.

Honestly, I'm far more concerned with the fate of the 2008-09 Celtics as a team than I am with that of Stephon Marbury as an individual. As long as Boston keeps winning, the man can do whatever he wants. For his sake, though, I hope he can let bygones be bygones and make some solid contributions for the defending champs.


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