Take a look at the face of the next business mogul to come out of China: Stephon Marbury.
If you thought Marbury was just playing in the basketball backwater that is the Chinese pro league because NBA clubs blackballed him following his bizarre breakdown last summer on UStream, think again. Marbury is over there to become a Global Icon (taking notes, LeBron?). Making moves. Hustling.
After all, as Marbury explained, over 350 million people in China play basketball, and China just recently surpassed Japan as the world's second-largest economy. You do the math. That's a lot of sneakers, as Starbury told the New York Post:
The NBA has deals to build arenas in China. It just takes time. Owning and investing there, how can I go wrong business-wise?
After initially balking at re-signing with his Shanxi club unless they offered him $2 million, Marbury will return after the team promised to help get his nascent sneaker business off the ground in the Middle Kingdom. Again from the New York Post:
Marbury signed a three-year deal to play again for Shanxi that includes a coaching stint starting next season. The most important part of the deal is his club will finance the opening of three Starbury stores in the city.
"It's all Starbury stuff. Like you go to a Nike store, it's going to be Starbury,'' said Marbury, who has his logo tattooed to his head.
Again: that's the kind of innovative branding and business acumen that sets Marbury apart.
But easily the craziest part of Marbury's fledgling Chinese shoe business is that it's not that crazy of an idea. There actually should be a good market over there, and playing for Shanxi should give Marbury enough visibility to create a niche for his shoes. The only reason to believe this won't work is that Stephon Marbury is prominently involved.
Maybe Chauncey Billups was on to something when he said he was sure Marbury would make it big with his business ventures in China. Maybe Marbury is really crazy like a fox. Or maybe not.