Some people would call Stephon Marbury's offseason strange. With the help of technology, some people have said exactly that -- and much worse -- about his public behavior to his face.
To his virtual face, anyway.
The Knicks' point guard, in the middle of a 38-city tour to promote his Starbury brand, has been mocked for a freewheeling appearance on a local TV sports show that is all over YouTube.
Last week, he interacted with fans as a guest blogger with a local newspaper. Some of the online comments he received were encouraging. Some were mean, nasty and personal. Such is life as a member of the media, a vocation Marbury considers himself a part of now with his own TV show, "Stars on Stars."
Marbury has never shown this side before, preferring to keep his personal life out of public view. Not anymore.
"People are saying that I'm crazy and that I'm on drugs, and I like that they're saying that," Marbury said Friday while riding to the next stop on his tour, Marion, Ind. "It's called happy juice.
"I love basketball," he said. "Basketball is my life and my passion. It's not what defines me anymore. I allowed that to define me, and now I woke up and now I can smell the coffee."
Marbury, 30, caused quite a reaction last week when he revealed plans to play in Italy when his Knicks contract expires in two years. He was ridiculed for saying it would be like David Beckham coming to the United States to play soccer.
"I think people forget, you've got guys like Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Charles Bark.ley -- these guys never won championships but they had great careers," Marbury said. "Their careers get glorified for things that I did already."
In a lengthy interview, Marbury was at once contrite and unapologetic about how he is coming out of his shell.
"I felt like now is the time to allow people to understand who I was," Marbury said. "I'm in the best place in my life. I'm as happy as I've ever been.
"Believe me," he said, "I know what I'm doing . . . This is the walk that I like to walk. And the talk that I'm talking is real."
He plans to take his basketball career and sneaker/clothing line global. With one year left on his contract with Steve & Barry's, Marbury said he won't discuss renewing it until it expires. He hasn't spoken with the Knicks about his overseas plans, nor will he. "Nobody can tell me what to do when I'm a free agent," he said.
Marbury, whose shoes and clothing retail for $14.98, also revealed a previously unpublicized desire to team with Michael Jordan on a future shoe line. "Michael Jordan is the sneaker king, and that's never going to change," he said. "I want to do a sneaker with Michael Jordan called Star Jordan. If Michael would put out a sneaker called Star Jordan, then the whole world could buy it. Everybody would be able to get the sneaker at a low price."
Marbury said the public criticism he's received throughout his 11-year career was "a constant grind in my mind. I was f!ghting within myself. But I'm no longer f!ghting because I don't have to f!ght.
"I don't want to be carried on no throne," Marbury said, a reference to LeBron James' appearance last week on the ESPY Awards. "I want to walk with the people because I've never abandoned the people because I'm a servant to the people."
Although Marbury said he's no longer f!ghting, that doesn't mean his guard has been completely lifted.
"If you're going to write this, I'm going to make sure that they know that you got this from me, because I'm taping it just like you're taping it," Marbury said. ". . . I'm a journalist as well. Everybody is going to be held accountable for their words."
Some samples from the tape:
On his upbringing: "I lived in Coney Island, with -- -- in the staircase in a four-bedroom apartment with roaches and mice. That's how I lived growing up . . . People like me are either dead, in jail or selling drugs. That's not my life."
On those who speculated that he called his wife his "better ho" on a recent local TV appearance: "They need to check themselves, because if they think that I was going to be able to go home after calling my wife a ho, that's crazy. I said my better half, and my words got caught up so it sounded like I said 'better ho.' "
On Zach Randolph: "You've got two guys that can score in the post. Now we can play twin towers style. I don't have to say any more about that."
On Ron Artest: "I'd be open to playing with Ron Artest. He's built to play in New York. I love Ron Artest. He's my kind of guy."
Marbury will be 32 with 13 NBA seasons in his rear-view mirror in 2009, when his contract with the Knicks is up.
"I want to win a championship," he said. "That's it. I want to win the shiny stuff . . . They say that I'm crazy, I'm delusional and I'm bugging out. No, I'm not crazy and delusional. I'm telling the truth. Y'all don't like the truth, because the truth hurts."