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This week in Knicks history: A tribute to Stephon Marbury

A gentleman on and off the court.

New York Knicks v Los Angeles Lakers
This layup most likely went in.

Stephon Marbury is trying to provide New York with 10 million medical masks to help fight the coronavirus, an assist that comes roughly 15 years after the point guard put up 45 points and 10 dimes in one of his finest performances as a Knick.

Marbury is attempting to help New York City procure 10 million N95 masks, which are hot commodities during the coronavirus crisis because they filter out 95 percent or more of particles in the air, including bacteria and viruses, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Brooklyn-born basketballer is seeking to enact his plans by connecting Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams to a Chinese supplier that is supposedly willing to sell the masks for $2.75 apiece, which is significantly less than the masks are typically going for.

Marbury’s move to try and help New York obtain the masks comes 15 years to the week since he put up monster numbers in a 117-107 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers back on March 29, 2005. The game, which took place in the Staples Center, also saw Kobe Bryant notch 32 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists to Marbury’s 45 points, 6 rebounds and 10 assists.

Marbury is one of only two Knicks to ever post at least 45 points and 10 assists. The other? Carl Braun, who tallied 50 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds in a 1962 victory over the Philadelphia Warriors, according to basketball-reference.

For some reason, highlights from the Marbury-Kobe matchup don’t seem to exist on the internet, although if any readers out there happen to be able to find them, please post the video in the comments so we can all enjoy watching Marbury feast.

Although his tenure with the Knicks did not result in much winning, at times Marbury looked like one of the top few players in the entire league, and this game against the Lakers was one of those nights. He shot 12-22 from the floor, including 6-8 from deep and 15-16 from the free throw line. A ridiculous 34 of his points came in the second half, and the 45-point effort represented the second time he achieved 40 or more points as a Knick (in total, Marbury posted 40 or more 5 times with New York).

His numbers were amazing, but Marbury was not pleased with his own personal effort since it didn’t result in a victory.

”It doesn’t matter if you score 50 points or two points,” Marbury said, according to the ESPN recap of the game. “If you win, that’s the most important thing.”

The game between the Knicks and Lakers came at an interesting time in history for both franchises. The Lakers were led by Kobe, having traded Shaquille O’Neal the previous summer. Other notable Lakers included Caron Butler, who scored 26 in the win, and Lamar Odom, who was injured and didn’t play that night. That’s really it, unless you count Devean George and Luke Walton as notable. The Lakers finished the season 34-48, missing the playoffs for the first time in a decade.

As for the Knicks, they had made the playoffs the previous season, but were about to embark upon a six-year stretch of not sniffing the postseason. Kurt Thomas put up 18 points and 15 rebounds against the Lakers, and Jamal Crawford added 16 points and 9 assists. Trevor Ariza had 10 off the bench, and no one else scored in double figures. Tim Thomas, who a month prior had scored 35 in a 117-115 win over the Lakers at Madison Square Garden, was held to just 5 points.

For whatever reason, highlights for Thomas’ 35-point outing are available, while highlights from Marbury’s 45-point eruption are nowhere to be found.

The Knicks were coached by Herb Williams, who attributed the loss to some terrible transition defense.

”The thing that killed us is we gave up probably 43 points in transition,” he said, per the ESPN recap. “That’s getting back and matching up. Nothing complicated, real simple, we just didn’t get back and match up and they ran it down our throat.”

Marbury never became the savior he was promised to be when Isiah Thomas nabbed him in a blockbuster trade that saw the Knicks give up Antonio McDyess, Howard Eisley and Charlie Ward, plus Maciej Lampe and Milos Vujanic, as well as two first round picks and almost $3 million in cash.

’’Our goal is to win the N.B.A. championship,’’ Thomas said after the trade, according to this story from the New York Times. ‘’Our goal is to put together a team that can do that.’’

Needless to say, Thomas never reached his goal with the Knicks.

Today, Marbury’s time with the Knicks is mostly viewed as a massive disappointment. He only made the playoffs once, proclaimed himself the best point guard in the league, feuded with Larry Brown and became a pariah at MSG, only to eventually reappear in China where he became a legend with a statue to boot.

Marbury standing in front of his very own statue.

It wasn’t Marbury’s fault that the Knicks mortgaged part of their future to get him, and even though the team was never very good with Starbury at the helm, the Coney Island product consistently put up numbers, averaging about 18 points and 7 assists across roughly five seasons in New York.

Today, he’s trying to use his fame for a good cause, and that’s cause enough to celebrate him. So here’s to Stephon Marbury. You know the saying: once a Knick, always a Knick.