BEIJING -- It's news when he takes the Beijing subway or when a statue is erected in his honor. News because former New York Knicks point guard Stephon Marbury has found stardom and a second chance in China.
Marbury even has a tattoo that says "I love China," a symbol of his commitment to the country where he's now a superstar. Marbury was recruited to play with the still-growing Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) in 2009 after his less-than-graceful departure from the NBA.
"For me it was like being reborn again coming here," said Marbury.
Not speaking the language may have helped shut-out the bad press he'd left behind: fights with coaches, sex with an intern, and a temporary ban from playing. We met Marbury in the locker room after his team the Beijing Ducks scored a 42 point victory.
"From when I first came here to now the game has grown," Marbury told me. "It's huge."
The reported $2 million he makes now is far from the $20 million he made in the NBA. But in New York he didn't star in a musical based on his life. Up next, there's a movie.
"A star like Marbury can take the subway in Beijing," Zhong Ling told me. "He feels like our brother."
Marbury says people ask him about China all the time. His response: "You got to come to China to see for yourself. Me telling you this, you're not going to believe me."
Probably because Stephon Marbury can't quite believe it himself -- witnessing just how much he's been embraced on the other side of the world.