2005-11-25 / Sports

Marbury Feels The Heat

from page 84

By Michael Avallone

Sports Columnist

It is not easy to come home. It is not easy to play in New York. And it is particularly not easy when New York is home.Not that New York is the active ingredient in the pall hanging over Marbury right now. If anything, those New York chromosomes should have transmitted some flexibility, some ingenuity, into Marbury’s makeup. Instead, he has picked a fight with the Knicks designer coach, Larry Brown – a fight Marbury cannot win.

 It’s not for everybody. Marbury will discover that when he leads the Knicks onto the Garden floor – well, no, actually Marbury doesn’t lead anybody anywhere. He plays his own game, which is, get the ball, pass or shoot (preferably shoot).

That is not what Brown wants from his best guard. Brown wants Marbury to distribute the ball more, but that is not Marbury’s concept of Stephon being Stephon. Boggled at losing seven of the first nine games, after a loss Friday night in Denver, Marbury is already showing signs of cracking, grumbling in public about wanting to shoot more. Brown promptly brought up the reality that Marbury has never improved a team in his first four stops in the league.

The Knicks fans, as plugged in as they are, are sure to remind Marbury of his statements today. He is not in the it’s-all-about-me stage of Terrell Owens, who violated the basic tenet of football – do not take on your own quarterback. Marbury just wants to shoot more; in the same crabby, confused way he did it in Minnesota, New Jersey and Phoenix before coming home to the Garden. He has almost worn out his welcome. He’s not necessarily a bad person, just limited. But by raising the issue, he has invited the Garden crowd to judge him.

Marbury has not accomplished enough in his short time with the Knicks to buy him the right to defy and criticize Brown after eight games. He ought to know that Brown has upgraded Allen Iverson and Chauncey Billups, that Reggie Miller seems to love Brown from their time together in Indiana, and that Brown had no qualms in ignoring LeBron James on the 2004 Olympic team.

Fifty percent lies with Marbury, 50 with Brown. This forced marriage, widely suspected to be doomed from the start, can at least function if the 50-50 is carried on both ends, not just Marbury’s.

It’s the coach’s job to exploit a player’s true talent as best he can. Brown should be wary of stripping away what Marbury does best: scoring off the dribble. He also shouldn’t take away Marbury’s spirit for the game and his aggressiveness. Until and unless the Knicks get a true point guard to assume most of the playmaking responsibilities, Brown and Marbury must meet halfway. Marbury should yield some to Brown, Brown should yield some to Marbury, then they should move on. This is not a battle Marbury can win. That he chose to fight it shows only his limited vision, in life as well as on the fast break. New York is a tough town. Marbury should know that already.

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