Watching the Knicks these days is a brutal, glorious experience; last night's loss to the Celtics was the nadir in a season full of them. And the centerpiece of the madness is, of course, Stephon Marbury, the Tracy Jordan of the NBA. He's mesmerizing; we can't look away.
In order to understand Marbury, we think we must look into his past. Therefore, we've asked The Assimilated Negro to break down various Marbury-related videos from the past to try to get in the man's mind. The first installment of Deconstructing Starbury is after the jump.
In the past couple years Knicks fans have had to come to terms with the fact that their point guard and team leader is a true-and-living insaniac. A lot of the evidence for this is available on You Tube and the internet at large in the form of clips and interviews etc. So in the interest of trying to make some sense of the nonsensical we will begin the process of Deconstructing Starbury, the New York Knicks are not going to win an NBA Championship anytime soon, but at the least we can dissect Captain Crazy and see how this all happened.
Appropriately we will start at the beginning, the oldest video we could find, with then high school prep star Stephon Marbuy in 1994.
0 - 1:15
Highlights: Early Delusions of Grandeur, How To Fake Laugh, The Half inch of Humility, The Familiar Refrain.
Analysis: So right out the gate we can see how deeply rooted Stephon's delusions of grandeur go when Sam Roberts asks "when did you start playing basketball?" Stephon tells him "2 or 3 years old." Sam Roberts is stunned, and Stephon clarifies that by "playing basketball" he means "hitting the rim." Then Roberts, still incredulous, presumably because he has seen a few 2 or 3 year olds in his day, and a few basketballs, and a few regulation basketball rims and knows a little about physics and gravity and such and with this knowledge you might be a little incredulous also, asks, "did you succeed?"
Of course he did. This is what the kids like to call "shit-talk." It is the first language of young athletes, especially those in urban environs.
At 43 seconds in we get the perfect corny joke and fake laugh exchange.
"You weren't this tall when you were 2 or 3?"
Funny stuff. I don't know if it tells us anything, but its good to isolate and identify these false moments. For the children.
One consistently confounding thing about Marbury's particular strain of mental malaise is the extreme polarity. With Stephon's insanity, and I can only presume with other crazies as well, a big part of that the willingness to represent oneself in fairly contradictory ways. For example, being both incredibly vain and incredibly humble. We see this in effect here when after likening himself to a two year old Hercules, Stephon self-effaces:
"Your'e 6'2" now."
"No I"m 6' 1" AND A HALF."
Ahhh yes. Marbury? More like Stephon Modesty. I'd liken this to having a conversation with God and you point to all the heavens and the earth and say, "did you make all this" and God says, "well everything except the packing peanuts and condoms."
"You didn't make the condoms?"
This segment ends with a familiar response template for Knicks fans. I think Stephon has scored 19 after every game he's played, and he also always does "alright, but not his best." The only thing that has changed is the winning. Here he won, now he doesn't. I guess he wins less as the competition rises. Stephon must know this also, deep inside. I suspect this will be a theme we see in future vids.
1:15 - 2:00.
We are introduced to Nunyo Demasio in this section. His breathing is strained, and he's making me nervous. I'm not sure why he keeps looking at me/ the camera. No one else is doing that. Every time he does it I feel like he's giving me, and only me, some sort of secret subliminal message about where Stephon Marbury hides his treasure in Coney Island. We all know Stephon has a treasure chest of money buried somewhere in Coney Island so that should anything befall him he can always go home dig it up and be ok. This is fact. Nunyo Demasio knows where it is. And he's nervous about it. Now I am too.
2:00 - 3:33
This is an interesting section of the interview. First of all Nunyo and Marbury seem to square off a little for control of the interview. Unfortunately trying to riff on Stephon's family leaves Demasio vulnerable to Marbury's more intimate knowledge.
But we get an extended whiff of defensiveness from Stephon in the section on his brothers who were all high school basketball stars now doing regular, if not menial, work. His rundown of what his brothers are doing is somewhat telling. You can see the evolution.
One brother works at a boy club, just got his degree at Weaver State College. The unimpressive reality of this hits Stephon as he talks about his next brother causing him to blank out on something we figure Stephon — who's been playing ball since 2 or 3 and has 4 basketball playing siblings — would never blank on. "He went to the Clippers for uhh, what was it ... uh ..... CAMP>" Hmmmm, yes. NBA Training Camp. By the time his nervous licking of his lips comes around, I totally understand, 'cause my mouth is dry as well.
"You feeling self-conscious about your brothers?"
3:33 - 5:05
Nunyo tells us what's behind the Stephon legend, while still talking directly to ME. He's convinced that Stephon has a special charisma. Which with 13 years of hindsight we can now say is a dubious assertion at best. Not that some people don't like Stephon, but it demands an articulation on the distinction between a likable personality, and someone who is afforded respect because they are talented and/or wealthy. Jury might still be out on Step; after all, he did bag that intern in the back of the truck, which likely demands at least a little charisma, but what we can tell for sure from this video is that Nunyo's lack of charisma makes certain that he'd be impressed by Marbury regardless.
"You been laid recently, Nunyo?"
5:05 - End
Perhaps the most important part of the video. In response to what he's doing after school Stephon says he's going to school and, "if i happen to make it to the NBA, you know, god willing, if i don't, I would like to be a lawyer."
Stephon Marbury Esq. Attorney at law-yer. I can see the infomercial now. Anyone hating on Stephon running the point should ponder that other possibility for the rest of the week.