It was 4 a.m. in Beijing when former Knicks player and Coney Island native Stephon Marbury got on the phone with the Daily News.
He didn’t want to talk about basketball. He wanted to talk about how he could help the U.S., 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 local manufacturing firms in China, and has been in touch with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams about the possibility of helping the 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 (Adams) 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 (Eric 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’s watched the situation in the U.S. spiral out of control in the two weeks since he traveled from America to Beijing.
“I’m watching everything, every day,” Marbury told the Daily News.
“I have Family members that have tested positive (for Covid-19),” he said. Some family members in Brooklyn have been hospitalized, but are on the mend.
“It’s been challenging to witness all of what’s been going on,” he 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, you know, we’re so behind on trying to get in front of this,” Marbury said.
“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.”
He urged everyone, everywhere, to unify to help battle the virus.
“You know, people all over the world are experiencing this and no one is exempt as we see. Prince Charles, you see actors, you see basketball players.”
“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,” he said.
After his NBA career, Marbury played seven seasons in China, becoming a legend for the Beijing Ducks, with whom he won three CBA championships. He is a massive star in China, memorialized in the way Michael Jordan is stateside, statues and all.
The point guard described the way China is currently managing the outbreak as “amazing.”
“Everywhere you go, you get your temperature checked,” he told the News.
“You know, when I first got to China two weeks ago yesterday, 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.”
Marbury had a message for New Yorkers who now find themselves at the epicenter of the outbreak in America.
“You know, New York is a city so nice they named it twice,” he said.
Marbury urged New Yorkers to coordinate.
“We’ve got to start thinking, you’ve got to start thinking together. We’ve gotta listen, we’ve gotta focus. We got to stay balanced during this time. The only way that we’re going to get through this is this is if we unite as one. If we unite as one, and we don’t look at our own individual preferences as far as what we feel we’re entitled to … and think about each other? I think we’ll be able to be better off in the long run.”
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