Stephon Marbury ending career in China, 'going out the way I want to go out'

Two-time NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury told ESPN's The Undefeated that he is at peace with his 22-year professional basketball career ending in China on Feb. 11 -- just days before he turns 41 years old.

Marbury plays for the China Basketball Association's Beijing Fly Dragons, whose regular season ends Feb. 11 against Jiangsu Tongxi. The Fly Dragons will not play in the postseason.

Marbury, a three-time CBA champion, plans to return to his offseason home in Los Angeles after his finale in China. Although Marbury plans to stay in shape -- "just in case" an NBA team calls this season -- he says he's "at peace" with his pro career ending in China.

"I'm tired, man. I'm tired. I played 22 years," Marbury, whose 41st birthday is on Feb. 20, told The Undefeated. "It's all good. I'm straight with how it is right now. I like being able to have control over going out the way I want to go out. I'm 100 percent at peace with it. One hundred percent."

Marbury averaged 19.3 points, 7.6 assists and 3.0 rebounds during a 13-year NBA career that included stops with the Minnesota Timberwolves, New Jersey Nets, Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks and Boston Celtics.

Marbury, the fourth overall pick in 1996, is the last remaining notable player still playing from that prized draft class, which included Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Ray Allen, Marcus Camby, Peja Stojakovic, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Shareef Abdur-Rahim. The former Georgia Tech star played in the 2001 and 2003 NBA All-Star Games and was a two-time All-NBA third-team selection.

While Marbury's NBA career ended in less-than-stellar fashion with the Knicks and Celtics, he said he made his mark in the league before rejuvenating his career in China.

"It was a steppingstone," Marbury said. "The NBA, for me, was preparation for me to do something someplace else. So all of the knowledge, all that I gained, all the things I was able to learn from playing in the NBA allowed me to come someplace else to inject that and give that type of energy to a culture of basketball that needed that."

Eight years ago, Marbury was the first notable former NBA player to make the move to play professionally in China.

In January 2010, Marbury signed with Shanxi Zhongyu in Taiyuan, China. After playing the next season in Foshan, the New York native moved on to Beijing during the 2010-11 season, where he became a China legend.

Marbury won three CBA championships with the Ducks and was the 2015 CBA Finals MVP. He was celebrated with a statue outside the Ducks' arena. The six-time CBA all-star was also celebrated in China with a Broadway-like play and movie telling his story, as well as a postal stamp, museum and green card.

He plans on continuing his current and new Chinese business endeavors, many of which are basketball-related, after his retirement.

"I have three championships in a country where I don't speak the language," Marbury said. "People don't even know how hard it is to play in China. People think it is easy for the foreign players, but it is really not. It's difficult. You can ask JR [Smith] and Tracy [McGrady]. It's not just about your ability to score. It's just about being able to try to win.

"I have accomplished so much in a place where basketball has taken off, heightened and gone to a whole other level. And I had something to do with it. I'm not a younger player seeing all this. I am an older playing seeing all this. So I am in a moment seeing that happening while it's happening. Everything is all transparent while it's taking place."

Marbury said he believes his entire basketball résumé is worthy of an induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as an international candidate.

"My numbers are Hall of Fame. That's first," Marbury said. "You look at guys who have never won championships on the globe, they are in the Hall of Fame. Two, what I have done to help basketball globally to bridge the gap from America to China, with China being one of the main components on the Earth for basketball, that right there alone should bridge that gap.

"It's the Basketball Hall of Fame, not the NBA Hall of Fame. So, for basketball, I played in Olympics, I played in the Junior Olympics. With what I've done and given to basketball is all Hall of Fame."

McGrady agreed. The Naismith Hall of Famer and ESPN analyst said for "what [Marbury] accomplished in the NBA and in China, he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame."

"He was a big star here in the NBA, had a great career, but things started getting shaky towards the end," McGrady said on ESPN's The Jump. "He went over there and reinvented himself."