When you talk New York City basketball legends you have to mention Stephon Marbury. The iconic hoops figure emerged from Coney Island and made a splash on the national stage taking his stunning talents to the NBA.
Marbury had the league written all over his life from the moment he was dribbling a basketball in his home. The new documentary, A Kid From Coney Island, starts from that bedroom and details Marbury’s moves as jerseys changed after bursting on the scene in NYC. In addition to his journey across the NBA, the film chronicles his troubling run during the 2004 Athens Olympics and his ascension to a legend in Chinese basketball.
The documentary brings in knowledge and perspective from Marbury himself, but also those who got to see his career playout, including his family, friends, musicians, journalists and Coney Island residents.
A Kid from Coney Island will have a limited theatrical release in March. Ahead of its release, Marbury spoke with The Source about the film, what it really meant to be from Coney Island, the Stabury sneaker line and more.
The SOURCE: Coney Island went with you everywhere. That’s your home, do you ever feel like there was an extra weight to carry with you?
Stephon Marbury: Nah, it was motivation. There’s motivation and opportunity to be able to have people pushing for you. I take all of the positives. I don’t take the negatives, I always take the positive out of the things that came my way.
In this film, there is insight from family and friends, teammates, journalists, everybody. Did any of the details that were shared surprise you? Also, how did you get certain people that are close to you to be trusting in the information given?
Well, I mean the stories, people have their view on their side, which is the best part about the doc. It’s a story being told about a human being doing something and then we cap it up at the end telling them the second part of the story playing basketball in China. Everybody left everything on the table as far as what they knew about me. There are no stories that are made up. I think the documentary, it gives people insight.
Basketball has been your love since dribbling in your room, but kind of took over your life, comparisons with Allen Iverson, Felipe Lopez. Do you think that hurt you in the long run?
You know, I never looked at being compared. I just went in and did what I did. I didn’t ever compare myself to anybody and I mean there’s nobody that really plays like me. Sometimes people will say Derrick Rose because of size and I can jump. But at the same time, you know, for me, I never really looked at comparisons. I made my decisions based upon how I felt, you know, what was going on in my life.
We get this opener of this timeline of a family of hoopers but you were destined to be the one. Do you feel that was your case?
I mean, I’ve always believed that I was going to go to the NBA. So I never was never like, am I going to be the one? It was my brother playing and I thought he was going to the NBA and then he didn’t go. It was a goal I had for myself.
Was that amplified when you were with the Knicks or Nets when you were close to home?
Everybody used to make big deals out of Marbury getting traded again. I get to go play all over America. I get it, Kobe [Bryant] and Magic [Johnson] and play on one team, great. But Michael Jordan played on another team, the greatest basketball player ever played on another team. So it’s funny when people were talking about wanting to go home because it just made such a big deal about me wanting to do it.
When I was in Minnesota, everybody made it about everything other than what I said that I wanted to do. People said I was jealous and it was just, what about me? My contract is seven years and living in this same environment. Did you ever think about that for me? I come from New York and I went to school in Atlanta, then I went to Minnesota. I’m 18, already there for two years and staying here for six, for seven more years, that’s nine and a half years of your life. Just think about it. Me saying that I wanted to leave had nothing to do with anything other than my life. So going home and playing, for me I have a chance to play in New Jersey. That was, that was a great opportunity. I got a chance to see my family. I went to Phoenix It was nice. I had a great time going there and then playing with the Knicks.
At the time when you first announced Starbury, there were supporters of your line and thinking of the under-resourced. Then there were those who balked at the idea. I was a kid when they came and had a couple of pairs. But from you, what do you feel was accomplished during that launch?
What I accomplished was creating a platform for people to have the chance to buy something at an affordable price. I thought it was a great opportunity to be able to do something like that and support the community.
Sneakers now are even crazier than it was then. Inflation prices, limited availability, partnerships with everyone, do you think the impact of a Starbury launch in today’s climate where people are more aware of pricing struggles and there is a larger voice to that would have been received more positively or negatively?
I mean the impact of social media has changed a lot of that and is giving people the opportunity to know what’s going on. For us, it gives insight and how to make better business decisions. At the time social media wasn’t, it wasn’t as powerful and popular as it is right now for sure.
Some would consider your years before departing for China rough. In turn that moves only cemented your name as a basketball icon. Three ships, a statue, what did you think of originally going and how does that differ from the love when you were done?
When I went there, it was rough, my father passed away. I had a lot of stuff going on and I made a decision that I wasn’t gonna play anymore. Then I went there and just left myself completely vulnerable to love. Citizens of China were completely different from other people, how they live and how they operate it. So you know, that weighed heavily in my life in a positive way. So it had me knowing and seeing that I’m going in a different direction, but being able to create.
It’s a lot of dope names attached to this project, Kevin Durant, Rich Kleiman, Forrest Whitaker how did this come to you?
Well, Nina Bongiovi’s and Jason Samuels, those two collectively started this. She just wanted it to be for dope, they had the vision. Then you have Forest Whitaker, I don’t even have to tell you, you know, I mean, that’s, that’s our Jordan. Him and Denzel Washington. Those guys are like Jordan if we would compare them to basketball. So you have those types of people who are curious to know about you, let alone want to do something with you. I haven’t been in that space where I had those opportunities for me to get that out and see the outflow. Like, wow, I’m blessed. This is amazing.
What do you think your legacy in basketball is?
I came to help change the world, baby. And I did that.