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A look back at Marbury 02.25.09 at 8:54 am ET
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“I don’t feel I’m totally ready. The NBA and college are two totally different games. The NBA is just pick-and-roll, and if the pick-and-roll’s not there, throw it to Hakeem and he scores. How hard can that be? It’s just physical strength. Being ready means adjusting to being around older players. Right now I don’t have anything in common with those guys.”

It is hard to imagine those sentiments were once expressed by Stephon Marbury.

Before the accounts of banishment, betrayal, and buyouts, there was a different story being told of the teenage phenom. In January of 1996, Sports Illustrated printed the article, “Caught In The Middle.” At the center was a basketball wiz from Brooklyn who tried to find a sense of normalcy in a downtown Atlanta barber shop. The story offers a look back at a young Georgia Tech point guard who drove a Suzuki 4×4, senselessly blew games, and grappled with the high expectations of success.

The NBA does not make lottery picks of floor leaders whose teams lose to Mount St. Mary’s at home. With Tech up a point and a minute and a half to play, Marbury threw away a blind wraparound pass. “We don’t need to be forcing it in a close game like that,” says Drew Barry, Marbury’s fifth-year senior backcourt mate. “Stephon’s a great talent. He’s going to be a great player. But right now he has a lot to learn.”

With Barry and forwards Michael Maddox and Matt Harpring, Yellow Jacket coach Bobby Cremins has the nucleus of a pretty good team, and he wants to let Marbury, who was averaging 19.3 points and 4.4 assists at week’s end, grow naturally into the role of leading it. “Why is he not there yet?” Cremins says. “He’s stubborn. And there’s the pressure to perform. The expectations are ridiculous. All this pressure. All this hype. It really pisses me off. He’s had his mind on other things.”

Thirteen years after the Sports Illustrated article was published, WEEI.com has reported Marbury is expected to sign with the world champion Boston Celtics. At this point in his career, one can only hope the only thing on his mind is winning.

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