The bickering between New York Knicks coach Larry Brown and point guard Stephon Marbury escalated into a verbal brawl on Wednesday after the team's morning shootaround, with Marbury saying their dispute has become personal and Brown claiming Marbury hasn't taken responsibility for his role in Knicks' disastrous season.
"I think it's personal now," Marbury told ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan, reacting to comments made by Brown on Tuesday. "I don't think it's about basketball anymore. Now it's to the point where he's putting his 30-year career against my 10-year career. You know, coach is a great coach is what everyone says. We're supposed to be better than what we are. Did it happen now? No."
He also said Brown's comments on Tuesday -- in which he put up his record against Marbury's, pointing out he'd never left a team in worse shape than when he took over, and asked reporters to compare respective track records -- were a sign of insecurity on Brown's part.
"He always crosses the line," Marbury told Sheridan. "That's not nothing new. Certain coaches deal with certain things certain ways, and he handles his things through the media as opposed to sitting down and talking with people. And still, if you sit down and you talk with coach, it's liable to get back to everybody, so you're really not safe there either."
"So, you're the best guard in the league and the team is 17-45, yeah, it's the coach's fault," Brown told Sheridan. "I don't know why you play a team sport and not be concerned about making your teammates better and helping your team win games. That's the only thing that really matters, and if you're the best player, surely you're going to have some effect on the game's outcome."
Marbury didn't play the fourth quarter or overtime of the Knicks' 121-117 win over the Hawks on Wednesday night.
He has told two teammates that he expects to be traded in the offseason, the New York Daily News reported, citing a team official.
The media-fueled fistfight between Brown and Marbury began in earnest Saturday, when Marbury complained he had not been given enough freedom on offense. Marbury is a point guard who prefers to score, and Brown has been demanding on point guards throughout his career. There were doubts the two could get along, and the tension between them boiled over this week.
"We're 17 and 45. You want to say because we don't have freedom that's why we're losing?" Brown told reporters on Tuesday. "That's fine, you can say that all you want. But the reality is, we foul more than any team in the league; since the fifth week of the season we're the second-worst field-goal percentage defensive team in the league; we turn the ball over more than any team in the league; we're close to the fewest blocked shots of any team in the league.
"Now you want freedom? How are you gonna have freedom with those stats?"
On Saturday, Marbury said changing his play hadn't helped the team.
"I went into this year trying to do something, to put myself in a situation where we can win, OK?" Marbury was quoted as saying. "To help the team win games. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. So, what do I do now, as far as the way I play? I go back to playing like Stephon Marbury, aka Starbury. I haven't been Starbury this year. I've been some other dude this year."
Marbury followed that up with more discontent this week. Brown's response Tuesday: "That means, 'I ain't thinking about all those things that really are relevant. I ain't thinking about any of those things.' "
The coach also attacked comparisons between how he handled Allen Iverson while coach of the 76ers and how he's handling Marbury.
"[Iverson] came to every game trying to win, as hard as he possibly could," Brown said. "Played hurt, broken down, competed every single night, and we had a team around him that accepted what he could do. And they all knew that every single night he's trying to win the game. ... He competed every single minute of every game."
"I've been coaching how many years? A long time," Brown said. "I never left a team in worse shape than I got it. Not once. Now think about that. Think about me and think about the guy who's talking. All right? I've never asked anything of my players any different than I'm doing right now. Think about that.
"The bottom line is, I want us to rebound, defend, share the ball, play hard. That's all. Now if you can't do that, if that's not important enough to you, it's not on me."
Marbury's average of 17.2 points going into Wednesday was his lowest since he scored 15.8 per game as a rookie with Minnesota in 1996-97.