New York Knicks point guard Stephon Marbury, along with center Eddie Curry, were told they were not starting against the Phoenix Suns Tuesday night. Marbury was said to be upset about being benched and was reported to have made several disparaging remarks about Knick head coach, Isiah Thomas. Yesterday, the Knicks fined Marbury for approximately $195,000 for leaving the team – presumably in a huff – without permission. Marbury, however, is appealing his fine indicating that he was granted permission by the Knicks to take a short leave from the team.After reading the following, it appears Marbury might just well be in the right:
A gleaming white Cadillac with a license plate reading MISTERLU, its engine off, was parked next to a basketball court in a Coney Island housing project last night….
For 36 years, Mr. Williams, known on and around those courts as Mr. Lou, coached and mentored hundreds of talented young basketball players from Coney Island. Stephon Marbury of the New York Knicks, who had given him the Cadillac, was one of them. Sebastian Telfair of the Minnesota Timberwolves was another. Mr. Williams died of a heart attack on Tuesday afternoon in his apartment in the housing project. He was 64.
Mr. Marbury, who left the Knicks without public explanation on Tuesday, spent at least several of his hours away from the team at the housing project, called Surfside Gardens.
“My dad passed away at 3 o’clock, and Stephon was here by dinnertime,” said Robert Williams Jr., 40, Mr. Williams’s son.
Dwayne Tiny Morton, the head basketball coach at Lincoln High School in Coney Island, where Mr. Marbury played ball, said, “I mean, there comes a time when you have to stop what you’re doing, even if it is playing professional basketball, and pay your respects.”
Marbury has and is taking hit after hit from the media. Incredibly, LeBron James has chimed in on the issue:
“I don’t know him that well,” James said of Marbury. “But I couldn’t have a guy like that on my team.”
If it is indeed the case that Marbury learned of Mr. Williams’ death, asked permission to leave the team and was granted permission, it is Knicks management that will, again end with egg on its face. It will also be an indictment on – at least – the New York NBA press corps for failing to connect Mr. Williams’ death and Marbury’s whereabouts and provide tentative explanation for Marbury’s disappearance from the team.
You don’t have to live in New York to know about “The Garden” in Coney Island and know how many great college and pro players Mr. Williams helped to fulfill their dreams of playing basketball at the highest level possible. It is nearly impossible to learn of Williams’ death and fail to think that Marbury would not be in New York after learning that the man who in large part was responsible for the success of Stephon Marbury, his older brothers, and his cousin Sebastian Telfair:
Four of Mr. Marbury’s brothers played under Mr. Williams’s tutelage. Don was a leading scorer for Texas A & M. Eric teamed with the future N.B.A. star Dominique Wilkins at Georgia in the early 1980s. Norman played at St. Francis College in Brooklyn. And Zack Marbury played at the University of Rhode Island.
But there were other great players: Quincy Douby, who played at Rutgers and is now with the Sacramento Kings: Chris Taft, who played for the University of Pittsburgh and then briefly for the Golden State Warriors; and Jamel Thomas, who played at Providence College and is now with a professional team in Italy. Last month, Mr. Thomas flew Mr. Williams and his wife, Sophia, to Italy to watch him play….
“He was the backbone of this whole community,” said Rodney Brown. “With talented kids, he taught them how not to be bought. With lesser players, he took them under his wing. And with kids who didn’t have money, he reached into his own pocket to buy them sneakers.”…
“Some of us went to college, some went to jail and some wound up dead; Mr. Lou stayed here with the kids,” said Ray Brown.
Some of them were allowed up to Mr. Williams apartment to view his lifeless body laid out on his bed. One of them was Mr. Marbury.
Earl Smith, one of Mr. Williams’s former players who is now a personal assistant to Spike Lee, said Mr. Marbury was in the Williams apartment “crying like a baby.”
“We lost a coach, a mentor and a grandfather — Mr. Lou was all of those things,” he said.
Just a few minutes ago on ESPN’s Mike and Mike in the Morning Show, Mike Golic, in part, said this about Marbury:
“…in his selfish thought process that the situation escalated so much that he flew back to New York…. the perception of Stephon Marbury is that he had zero thought process of his teammates…”
Now, what happens when it becomes common knowledge – not to say that it should not be common knowledge already – that Marbury was grieving in his hometown and that was his reason for leaving the team? Will there be rounds of apologies from the press? Will anyone learn a lesson from this incident and attempt to flesh out a story that, on the surface might be salacious in its nature, but when researched contains sober elements that counter its sensational superficial appearances?
Of course not.