BEIJING -- Two-time NBA All-Star
Stephon Marbury will become the highest profile American to
play in the Chinese Basketball Association after he
agreed to join the league's Shanxi club.
The 32-year-old, a free agent since leaving the Boston Celtics last season, had agreed to a deal with the northern club
and would arrive in Shanxi next week, the team announced on
its official Web site.
"The aim of signing Marbury is to pay back our fans and try
to win more games in the rest of the season," said Shanxi boss
The 2001 and 2003 NBA All-Star was expected to help boost
Shanxi's ticket sales as well as their chances of making the
playoffs. Shanxi is currently 15th in the 17-team league.
In an interview posted on Shanxi's Web site, Marbury said he wasn't daunted by the language barrier.
"I'll communicate with the fans through my basketball," Marbury said. "I think this will be a unique experience. To go overseas to play ball, to live, for me it's a challenge."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he isn't surprised Marbury is back on the court.
"I did not think he was done," Rivers said. "I thought someone would actually pick him up this summer. I think he's going over there probably to prove that he can play."
"If he goes over there and shows what he did here," said Celtics guard Ray Allen, "then I don't think his time in the [NBA] is done."
Shanxi last season hired former NBA player Bonzi Wells, who
scored as many as 50 points a game. The contract ended after
less than two months when Wells went on vacation but failed to
return on time.
Information from Reuters and ESPNBoston.com's Chris Forsberg was used in this report.