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‘China is home’
Winter Olympics to be ‘extraordinary’ given country’s handling of COVID-19: former NBA star player Marbury
Published: Dec 01, 2021 08:53 PM
Stephon Marbury of the Beijing Ducks shoots the ball in a basketball game in Beijing on February 11, 2018. Photo: VCG

Stephon Marbury of the Beijing Ducks shoots the ball in a basketball game in Beijing on February 11, 2018. Photo: VCG



Former NBA star player Stephon Marbury, who has lived in China for 11 years and has obtained a "green card" in China for his outstanding achievements in the country, shared his great expectations for the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympic Games, his feelings about China and suggestions to enhance mutual understanding between Chinese and Americans at the 2021 Understanding China Conference in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province on Wednesday.   

A brilliant player who became the head coach of the Beijing Royal Fighters Basketball Club, Marbury said he believes the upcoming Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games is going to be "extraordinary," especially considering they are being held during a time when the world is combating the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he said that people do not need to worry given China's handling of the pandemic and that the competition will still be able to give people a different experience. 

There are only 65 days left before the opening ceremony of the Beijing Games.

Marbury told the Global Times that the Games will be a great "opportunity for all of the athletes to be able to compete, to test themselves, to measure how far they can go." 

Living in China, where the pandemic is under control but still faces challenges from the Omicron variant, Marbury revealed that he is a huge fan of China's top respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan because Zhong is "giving the information that so many people need to hear" as people are nervous and scared about something that could possibly affect their loved ones. 

"I was watching a lot of broadcasts. He [Zhong] was speaking English and is capable to communicate. He was talking to everyone on the planet, not just the Chinese people, to help them get insights on how to combat the virus." 

On Marbury's Sina Weibo account, Zhong's picture is set as his cover photo. 

Marbury mentioned that if he had the chance to talk to Zhong, he would want to find out what the medical professional thinks about every day when he wakes up and what steps he takes to try to figure out how to continue to help people.  

Marbury first came to China in 2010, joining the Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons. He then played one season for the Foshan Dralions, before switching to the Beijing Ducks in 2011. Marbury, who steered the Ducks to three titles in four seasons, is recognized as the most successful foreign player in Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) history. In 2016, he became a permanent Chinese resident and the first foreign player in the CBA league's 21-year history to get China's green card. A Chinese green card is one of the hardest to obtain with only around 5,000 issued since 2004, when the policy was introduced. 

Speaking with the Global Times at the conference, Marbury shared his deep feelings about China. 

"China is home for me. In the home, it's not about reading, it's about feeling," he said, adding that he likes connecting with people so they can understand his feelings and his love for the country. He noted he also feels grateful that Chinese people talk to him in English as he feels his Chinese is poor and that he always appreciates the love and hospitality that Chinese people have shown to him. As his mother once told him after a trip to the country, "I never went to some place and felt so at peace and was treated so nice when I was in China."

Stephon Marbury speaks at the 2021 Understanding China Conference in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province on December 1, 2021. Photo: Cao Siqi/Global Times

Stephon Marbury speaks at the 2021 Understanding China Conference in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province on December 1, 2021. Photo: Cao Siqi/Global Times

He recalled that when he first came to China to play basketball during a time in his life when he was looking for something new and challenging, he felt uncertain because the decision was pretty odd for a top player in the US. However, when he arrived in North China's Shanxi Province, living there really helped lift his spirits. "The people in Shanxi showed me immense love when I first got there, which was something that I needed at that time," he said. 

Another special memory came from 2011, when he started to play basketball in Beijing and won the championship with the team. At that time, the head coach of the basketball team noted that Marbury had brought the team to life, saying "the team can do without me, but they can't do without Marbury." 

Marbury said that he still recalls how fans talked about the win, describing it as a special time and a historic moment that they would remember each in their own way. 

As someone from the US, Marbury said that he believes that if Americans really want to learn about China, they should visit and stay for more than a week or a month. 

"People need to be able to come to China and experience China more to be able to understand each other so that they can immerse themselves into the culture, to be able to learn and have a better understanding," he said. 

The 2021 Understanding China Conference is being held in Guangzhou from Wednesday to Saturday. This marks the third time that Guangzhou has played host to the flagship event, which is sponsored by the China Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy, the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs and the Government of Guangdong.  

With the theme "Whence and Whither - Unprecedented Changes in the World and China and the CPC," the conference is highlighting topics designed to understand the connectivity between the CPC and the world in a more profound manner. 


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