We Now Live in a World in Which Stephon Marbury Is a Playoff Hero


If your NBA fandom is limited to following our hometown Knicks, you may be unfamiliar with the concept of the “playoffs” that are going on right now. Stephon Marbury would be forgiven for not remembering how they work, either; he hadn’t appeared in a postseason game in five years before 2009. But last night, Marbury’s huge fourth quarter was a big reason the Celtics are now one win away from facing LeBron James’s Cavs in the conference finals.

Marbury scored all twelve of his points in the fourth quarter, and the Celtics erased a fourteen-point Magic lead to take a 3–2 lead in the series. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy called him “the key to the game,” and ESPN.com’s Chris Sheridan suggests it was Marbury’s biggest performance since scoring a Team USA–record 31 points in the 2004 Olympic quarterfinals. The time between these two games, of course, roughly constitutes his tenure with the Knicks.

Not that Marbury’s been great all postseason — he had just 36 points through Boston’s first eleven playoff games — but it’s still frustrating to watch him contribute. Not in the sense that we’d wish him to fail in all future endeavors, but had he gone to Boston and been useless on the court, or a distraction off of it, it at least would have helped justify the Knicks’ decision to bench him all year and turn the whole situation into a sideshow. But he has pretty well accepted his position as a role player in Boston. Perhaps that’s all we should have asked of him in New York.