Starbury’s Fine Wine

Stephon Marbury’s not happy with his teammates:

“I sat there for three weeks and didn’t say one word,” Marbury told the Post. “I didn’t hear one of my teammates say, ‘Why isn’t Stephon Marbury playing? This is a good system for him, even to play with the second unit and bring more firepower.’

“When things got bad and then worse, guys like Quentin Richardson say, ‘I don’t consider him a teammate. He let his teammates out to dry.’ He didn’t care I was his teammate when I was banished. They left me out for dead. It’s like we’re in a foxhole and I’m facing the other way. If I got shot in the head, at least you want to get shot by the enemy. I got shot in the head by my own guys in my foxhole. And they didn’t even give me an honorable death.”

What I don’t think Marbury understands is that Mike D’Antoni’s determination to not play him accomplished something important for the team — it helped remake the Knicks into a squad that Knicks fans don’t hate. Guys like David Lee, Wilson Chandler, Quentin Richardson, and Nate Robinson don’t get booed even when they lose. The fans understand that the team isn’t going to be good this season, and what they’re hoping for is (a) for the team to get better in the future, and (b) for the players to be guys you can root for. It’s not Marbury’s fault that he makes $20 million in any sense. But high-paid busts like him, Jerome James, and Eddy Curry made the fans angry at the team and its players. Keeping them all out of view and highlighting more popular players helps keep the fans engaged during a multi-year tanking process. That’s a hard trick to pull off, and it’s not one that can be pulled off with Marbury on the floor.