Late last night, I received an e-mail from one of my 'covert' underground. He is known to me only as Mr. Jones. His (her) sources have been solid in the past so I offer the following with considerable confidence.
Sent was a transcript and video of a TV interview in a restaurant shortly after Stephon Marbury was voted MVP in the Chinese Basketball's Association's All-Star Game. It arrived as a raw feed, so some major Babblefish was necessary. Here is my translation.
Picture former NBA All Star Stephon Marbury, his translator, a Mr. Xing Xiang Xing, and TV reporter slash cameraman Jimmy Chen from Guangzhou Television (GZTV). They are seated at a restaurant table.
Jimmy: "Hello everyone. This is Jimmy Chen, your man about town, reporting for GZTV. We caught up with Stephon Marbury, Ma Bu Li, the new point guard for the Shanxi Zhongyu. (Zhongyu is Chinese for Dragon). Last night he was voted MVP of the All Star Game here in Beijing. I know you all watched.
"We're having lunch here at Din Tai Fung's, Asia's most famous Hairy Crab Dumplings restaurant. The resulting taste is very plush, absolutely delicious." He glanced up to the chef, standing in the video's background, who smiled, showing large white teeth. "So...Mr. Marbury, how do you like the food here?" He turned the camera toward Stephon.
Xing: "He asks how you like the food here, Stephon."
Stephon: "Yeah, did you hear? He said Mr. Marbury. I like that. The food? Well..."
He looked down at the plate in front of him.
"What is this," said Stephon leaning toward Xing. "Not really something I would...?"
Translator Xing: "It's Xiao Longbao. It is the best steamed buns this side of Xuchang. It is a thin wheat-flour skin, stuffed with minced pork with a delicious jelly, making the filling extremely juicy, steamed in a bamboo steamer."
"Okay...but I'm a Coney Island, guy, Brooklyn. They got maybe hot dogs on a stick, or cheeseburger... fries...? This is like a pork-pot-pie-ish, runny, thingy? Okay...but I'll need some sake."
"Shuush," said Xing. "that's Japanese. We have water." Then to the camera, "Mr. Marbury is so excited about the food he discovers here in Beijing. He says he will never go back to processed, low nutritious, fast foods eaten in America."
Stephon: "I'll try it, but..." He picked at the crust, and looked up with half a smile.
Xing: "He says he cannot wait for such deliciousness, served at world famous Din Tai Fung's in Beijing."
Another large grin from the chef, hovering in the background.
Jimmy: "Please ask Mr. Marbury what it is like to play for the the Shanix Dragons."
Xing: "Playing with the dragons, what is it like?"
Stephon: "Guys aren't all that tall. But the fans finally know how good I really am. You see those shots I made, three pointers from downtown, WAY down town? Hey, Isaiah Thomas, think I'm NBA material now? You too Larry Brown. Watch on YouTube. I took it to the house."
Translator: "Mr. Marbury is proud they let him play with Chinese professionals. He is grateful to be on the court. His old coach Isaiah Thomas is very proud of him. And Larry Brown is one of his best friends."
Reporter: "How does Mr. Marbury like living in China?"
Xing: "Your thoughts on China, and how lovely it is here, and all the great things you see here."
Stephon: "Well, been here two months, so I'm either on the court and in my place. I don't like it they only paying be $60 grand to play, your guy's cap on salary for non-Chinese, but I got my shoes, and I been doing, oh man, fantastic with the shoes. Like to play in the NBA again, but everybody loves my shoes. You know... I was making $20 mil with the Nicks."
Translator: "He will never go back to America. He loves the fans who come to the games. He wants them to continue to buy his shoes."
"They respect me," said Stephon, " because of what I do on the court. I'll talk to my wife, and my kids. I might be here for a couple of years and my family might have to move here. There is a lot to think about."
Xing: "He says he is here to stay. It is so nice here."
Reporter Jimmy, looking down at his note pad. "They said he was selfish, unwilling to come off the bench, a bad influence to young players, in America. Is that true?"
Xing: "You left America because they did not let you play. It that right?"
Stephon: "They never understood my potential. But with Shanix, bring in better players, give some better salaries, and I can market my shoes, maybe $2 mill a year...I'm getting real popular here."
Xing: "He says that his team is very good, and he will be honored to play with them, then he will sell more shoes."
"Hey, I don't need the money. I donated the money I got for being named MVP to a Beijing elementary school. But I can't play for free. Do have a deal with the team, partners like, so I can sell more shoes, logos and stuff."
He looked out the window to a sea of smiling faces. They were all waving. He waved back."See, they love me here." He turned back and smiled into the camera.
"Maybe I'll get a tattoo, something Chinese, show people I've been here. Like maybe Mt Fuji, there's still some room up here on my shoulder." He pulled up his sleeve.
Xing: "Again with the Japanese, shuush."
Reporter: "Zhang Qingpeng, China's National Team's point guard. Are you as good as he is?"
Xing: "Zhang Qingpeng, the best point guard we have. He asks if you think you are as good?"
Stephon: "How can I compare myself to any other player when I'm the best point guard in the world. You all saw me in the All Star game. Check on YouTube, Larry Brown."
Xing: "Mr. Marbury says it would be an honor to be half as good as Mr. Qingpeng."
Surprise on his face, Jimmy bowed, and Stephon bowed back, and in the background the chef also bowed. Then the fans at the window all bowed. Big smiles, much waving. Seems everybody bows.
"You know," said Stephon, "the NBA ain't the only show in town. Bonzi Wells was here, and we got Cedric Simmons, and Maurice Taylor, amongst others, Tre Kelley, Rodney White. Whole bunch." He nodded to the camera. "Newspaper guys, bloggers, wrote things. It's all political back home. Coming here, people really understand me. They've had chance to see for themselves. When I play it's sold out. You watching this Isaiah?"
Xing: "Stephon says there are many NBA players here now, and the fans really like the way we play."
Jimmy Chen: "Now Mr. Marbury, will you stay for another season with the Dragons. You have been great for the team. Everyone is wanting to know."
Xing: "Will you stay?"
Stephon: "There are so many people and they love my stuff. I got a great situation and I’d be a fool not to be here. Depends on a lot of things."
The chef moved into camera view holding another plate of food. There were bows all around, then he moved back to the background, and stood there beaming.
Xing: "This is KangKong. It is a mixture of Water Spinach and dried shrimp paste. Little peanut oil, garlic, it is very good." Then in Chinese he says, "More of the delightful and melt-in-your-mouth food from the world famous kitchen of Din Tai Fung's here in Beijing."
Stephon stared at the dish.
Jimmy: (into the camera) "Stephon is savoring the delicious smells of the flavors."
Stephon moved sideways in this seat, breathed deeply and blinked.
Stephon: "We gotta go."
Xing: "It is delightful to talk with everyone. He has to go now, and sell his shoes."
Jimmy: "One final question. Please ask him how he makes those long shots, those three point shots. He's so good at them?"
Xing: "Your shooting. How do you shoot so well."
Stephon: "I make it look so easy, don't I. Well, it's something I was born with. Comes pretty easy. I'm the best in the world, you know, at point guard. You just saw me in the game. What can I say? You know I'm right, Larry Brown." He raised his eyebrows and nodded again to the camera.
Xing: "Mr. Marbury is so humble. He says he practices for hours and hours to shoot like that for the fans. He loves the fans and says it is they that make those shots. They are the reason he is so good, not him."
They heard cheering from outside. And many bows.
"Now we have to go, Xing," said Marbury. "Sold 1500 shoes in two sessions yesterday, can you believe? I like it here, you know."
Xing: "Says he wants everybody in china to buy his shoes, as souvenirs. He will sign each one. If you are nice he will give them to you for free. Money means nothing. He is from the NBA!"
That's my take. What do you think? Is he a big fish in a 'small' pond? Maybe he's finally found a home. Matter of fact, they are buying his shoes like crazy. Would you like to see him back in the NBA? Should he maybe get a new translator?