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Ex-NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury wants to send New York City 10 million surgical masks in next month

The native New Yorker, a huge star in China, says he has relationships with Chinese manufacturers that could make that possible.
Former NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury watches the Knicks and Raptors play in March 2018 at Madison Square Garden in New York. After leaving the NBA, Marbury played seven seasons in China and became a massive star in that country. He says he wants to use his connections there to help New York City fight the coronavirus.
Former NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury watches the Knicks and Raptors play in March 2018 at Madison Square Garden in New York. After leaving the NBA, Marbury played seven seasons in China and became a massive star in that country. He says he wants to use his connections there to help New York City fight the coronavirus. [ MARY ALTAFFER | AP ]
Published Mar. 29, 2020

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It was 4 a.m. in Beijing when former Knicks player and Coney Island, N.Y., native Stephon Marbury got on the phone with the New York Daily News.

He didn’t want to talk about basketball. He wanted to talk about how he could help the United States, and particularly his beloved native New York, battle the coronavirus.

Thanks to a his massive popularity from playing in the Chinese Basketball Association, Marbury has relationships with manufacturing firms in China and has been in touch with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams about the possibility of helping the United States get desperately needed medical equipment. The factories could provide 10 million masks within the next 10-30 days. They can manufacture between 2 million and 2.5 million masks a week and ship half a million masks via air freight each day.

“Because of my relationship with Eric and for the people of Coney Island, where I’m from, I’m now trying to help source from different factories here in China to help because (Adams) isn’t here. He’s not on the ground. He’s not able to have people coming here because it’s so difficult right now,” Marbury said.

“So I’m taking on a role for him to basically try to help sourcing products with masks and different other products that people will need to survive — test kits, all these different things that have been called upon and what the city needs to try to get in front of this," he said, describing how he has watched the situation in the United States spiral out of control in the two weeks since he traveled from America to Beijing.

“I’m watching everything, every day,” said Marbury, 43, who played 13 seasons in the NBA, the last one in 2008-09. He also played with the Suns, Nets and Timberwolves.

“I have family members that have tested positive (for the virus),” he said.

Some family members in Brooklyn have been hospitalized but are on the mend, he said.

“It’s been challenging to witness all of what’s been going on,” Marbury said.

“It’s been really hard, then, to hear the demand that’s needed for the supplies. When I hear this, and I know all that was going on, it’s really, it’s heartbreaking to see that. … We’re so behind on trying to get in front of this.

“But this is the challenge and these are the challenges that we’re all facing. And for me, knowing that I have family in America, I’m moved to try to help in any way that I can.

“This virus is an intense physical monster,” he said. “And … it doesn’t know anyone’s name. It doesn’t know what anyone’s occupation is. It’s literally trying to take us out, and I think we all have gotta become one in order to really get in front of this.”

After his NBA career, Marbury played seven seasons in China, becoming a legend for the Beijing Ducks, with whom he won three Chinese championships. He is a massive star in China, memorialized in the way Michael Jordan is stateside, statues and all.

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The point guard called the way China is currently managing the coronavirus pandemic “amazing.”

“Everywhere you go, you get your temperature checked,” he said.

“You know, when I first got to China two weeks ago … as soon as I landed, I went to the hospital and I got tested. I tested negative. And then when I came to my apartment complex, they told me that I had to self-quarantine for 14 days, even after testing negative, because of so many different cases coming about from outside of China.

“You know, that 14 days of quarantine is vital because … that will give the virus a chance to come on if you have it.”

• • •

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