Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
For a brief moment there, it appeared basketball fans might see two legendary Lincoln High School players from different generations pair up in the backcourt.
Stephon Marbury and Lance Stephenson — “Starbury and “Born Ready” — together for the first time? At least for a quick minute in practice.
Seriously, Marbury said he might go back and practice with his old high school team in Brooklyn, the one he led to the 1995 city championship, now that he’s been declared inactive by the Knicks.
But that delicious scenario dried up Friday when the Players’ Association advised Marbury against running with the Railsplitters.
“They didn’t think it was a good idea,” Marbury told Frank Isola of hte Daily New during Friday’s shoot-around in Washington. “I’ll probably go to the practice and just watch.”
Isola joked that perhaps Steph just couldn’t fit under Lincoln’s salary cap.
But for a few, bright shining hours, hoops fans could fantasize about a potential practice backcourt of Marbury at point and the 6-foot-5 Stephenson as the off guard. Lance is one of the top players in the nation in the Class of 2009 and has guided Lincoln to three straight PSAL titles. He seeks a fourth in his senior year.
“I think I’m going to start practicing with my high school team,” Marbury told Isola Thursday. “Seriously. I’ve already called the coach to see if I can run up and down with the guys and at the same time help teach the younger guys the NBA game.”
Even Lincoln coach Dwayne “Tiny” Morton endorsed the idea.
“If he does I’d be excited about it and I know the kids would be delighted,” Morton told Isola. “I know he’s thinking about it.”
Many expect that Stephenson will play that NBA game beginning in 2010 — after a year of college.
At this point. Stephenson could end up spending a year at St. John’s before potentially going pro. He visited the Queens campus for its Midnight Madness event and St. John’s coach Norm Roberts has had an in-home visit with the Stephensons.
Kansas, Memphis and USC are also involved, but St. John’s is hoping Lance will fall into their lap in the spring and light up the Garden for a year.
Of course, Stephenson could also opt to go to Europe a la Brandon Jennings. A number of top prep stars are waiting until the April signing period to commit — Stephenson, Xavier Henry, Dominic Cheek of St. Anthony in Jersey City and John Wall of Raleigh (N.C) Word of God.
During that time, they will be able to gauge whether Jennings helped his stock in the 2009 NBA Draft by signing a three-year deal starting at $1.2 million to play in Italy.
Former sneaker guru Sonny Vaccaro said he’s heard from the parents of a number of high school players interested in exploring their options in Europe.
Too bad that Steph can’t pair up with Stephenson. Lance and his teammates, including Maryland commit James Padgett, probably could have beneftted from practicing with Starbury.
And why not? He’s not getting any run from Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni despite his $21.9 million salary, yet he won’t accept a buyout for a penny less.
So the backcourt made in fantasy heaven — Starbury and Born Ready — must sit on the sidelines for now.
(Photos courtesy Daily News, Washington Post)
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.