- Language Tips
If I must say so, it was a real pleasure last weekend playing in the 2013 CBA All-Star Game.
Twenty-four of the best players in the Chinese basketball league brought their A games to Guangzhou, and we did not disappoint.
It was the North versus the South, and bragging rights were on the line. A few of us from the Beijing Ducks were there to represent.
The fans voted for me to be the starting point guard for the North All-Star team. I received the second most votes behind Qingdao Eagles' Tracy McGrady who, like me, is also a former NBA All-Star. My Ducks teammate, Li Gen, was selected as a reserve, and our head coach, Min Lulei, was an assistant coach.
Before the North and South All-Stars took to the court, we had an early morning shoot-around.
Then, a throng of reporters from all over China shot questions at us right before the CBA All-Star introduction rehearsal.
During rehearsal, both teams practiced formalities such as where to stand, what to say and where to walk before the tip-off.
Then, both teams broke bread during lunch. I really enjoyed sharing a meal with them because rarely, if ever, do I get the chance to become more acquainted with people unaffiliated with the Ducks.
I don't know if you know, but I don't eat much before games because it makes me sluggish and I definitely don't want that.
Anyway, I relaxed most of the day and waited until it was time to leave for the game.
Honestly, rarely do I get a full night of sleep during the season. It's just the nature of a basketball player's schedule. I'm pretty used to it. After playing basketball for more than 30 years, how could I not be?
We left around 5:35 pm and the game began at 7:30.
It is amazing what I saw guys do with the basketball. You can bet there are a few highlight reels out there. Players dunked way above the rim. They did tricks where guys threw the ball between their opponent's legs while still maintaining control of the basketball. That was unbelievable!
Unfortunately, my North All-Star team lost 120-117 to the South All-Stars. I scored 27 point and had 11 assists. South All-Star Yi Jianlian won the MVP. Congratulations!
I really hope next year I get another shot to help redeem the North All-Star team.
Also, I hope I am blessed to redeem myself as the coach of the North Rookie All-Star side. My team won last year but lost this weekend, 84-77 to the South.
Now that the CBA All-Star Weekend is behind us, my Beijing teammates and I are focused on what I call the second season - the playoffs.
We are the third seed. On Wednesday night we are on the road in our first playoff game of the quarterfinals against sixth seed Zhejiang Lions.
Preparing for the postseason has been an intense task for us and I am quite sure, for every other playoff team because of what is at stake.
Our goal is to remain the CBA champion while all the other playoff teams hope to dethrone us.
We know we are in for all-out war but I think we are ready for combat.
Despite our challenges during this season, we are well aware of our roles and are willing to play them. This has become evident during recent practices. Our scrimmages are very intense - like in a playoff game. Each squad desperately wants to win. That's a good thing because when a team goes hard in practice, it is easier to match that intensity during an actual playoff game.
We know Zhejiang Lions will be a tough playoff opponent as it has a good squad. The team has a foreign center that is unstoppable and a wing man that can score 50 points on any given night. Also, its young guards cannot only penetrate, but pile up points as well.
Although we have our hands full in this five-game series, I think we can win if we stick to our game plan. That is to limit our turnovers, rebound the ball and make our free throws.
We shall see.
Love is love.
Stephon Marbury can be reached at email@example.com
(China Daily 02/26/2013 page24)