It is the year of our lord 2017, and Stephon Marbury and Jimmer Fredette just got into a shoving match.
The two biggest and perhaps most unlikely stars in the Chinese Basketball Association met on Thursday, and they came face-to-face when Fredette drove to the basket at the end of the third quarter and Marbury slapped the ball loose. Marbury somehow avoided a whistle, despite seemingly catching Fredette’s arm and face with his right hand, but Marbury did not escape Fredette’s wrath.
Fredette shoved Marbury, who treated the former BYU boy wonder like someone half his age:
— Ball Don't Lie (@YahooBDL) November 10, 2017
This is perfection. It is everything you could have ever wanted from the Fredette-Marbury altercation you only dreamed of before now — Fredette getting scrappy and Marbury getting very, very real.
Fredette, 28, isn’t quite half Marbury’s age, but close enough. Marbury turned 40 this past February and announced this season would be his last in China after parting ways with the Beijing Ducks, a team that made him a legend abroad, complete with everything from a postage stamp to a musical in his honor. The two-time NBA All-Star is quite simply the CBA’s most famous foreign player in history.
Fredette has since taken the mantle of “best American playing in China,” capturing CBA international MVP honors last season — an award Marbury earned in 2013. Fredette is averaging 41.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game for the Shanghai Sharks, which seem like video-game numbers, until you see the other numbers across the CBA. Former Boston Celtics forward Jared Sullinger is putting up 40 and 17 boards a night, and Marbury is averaging a 15-6-7 in his fifth decade on Earth.
Fredette and Marbury are both former NBA lottery picks from New York — the former from Upstate and the latter from Brooklyn — but the two point guards took entirely different paths to Chinese stardom.
Fredette was a superstar at BYU, winning the NCAA scoring title and college player of the year honors before being drafted 10th overall by the Sacramento Kings in 2011. The Mormon’s NBA career never took off and ended after five seasons spread across five teams and countless D-League assignments. He left for China unable to find consistent work in the NBA, regardless of how badly he wanted it.
Marbury, meanwhile, was a prep legend who played one season at Georgia Tech before being drafted fourth overall in 1996. He spent his first few seasons on the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he was supposed to be the Robin to Kevin Garnett’s Batman. That partnership was never fully realized, but Marbury emerged as an All-Star on the New Jersey Nets and Phoenix Suns before spending a handful of seasons on his hometown Knicks and finishing his 13-year NBA career in Boston. He left for China at the age of 31, a few months after smoking a joint live on camera, his career spiraling out of control.
As a result, the Fredette-Marbury matchup was an unlikely one Stateside and somehow a marquis one in CBA circles. In the end, Fredette got the best of Marbury, dust-up aside, outscoring his elder 54-4 while adding 13 rebounds and 10 assists in a 123-119 overtime victory. That’s right: Fredette put up a Russell Westbrook-esque 50-point triple-double — for the second straight game. Stop the fight.
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