Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 7:18 am
Is It The $15 Shoes? Marbury Has Bursitis
Other shoe drops for Steph
BY FRANK ISOLA
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Stephon Marbury is suffering from heel ailment but denies it is caused by wearing discounted sneakers.
The idea of a $17 million player wearing $15 sneakers never sounded like a good one. But it was a risk - a medical and public relations one - that Stephon Marbury was willing to take.
Marbury also knew that the first time he pulled up lame with a leg or foot ailment he would be questioned about whether his affordable "Starbury" shoes contributed to the injury.
Yesterday, after the Knicks announced that Marbury was sidelined with bursitis, or inflammation near the heel, the veteran point guard chuckled when a reporter posed the obvious question: it's gotta be the shoes, right?
"My shoe?" Marbury replied. "It's not because of my shoe."
Players with more expensive sneakers have suffered a worse fate, so blaming the injury on Marbury's family-friendly apparel is somewhat unfair. But Marbury opened himself up to second-guessing by deciding to wear the same sneakers that he is selling to kids all over the country.
"People are going to say what they want to say," said Marbury, who missed last night's preseason game against Philadelphia. "I know what's going on."
In September, Marbury embarked on a cross-country tour to push his product and rehabilitate his tarnished image. Sales have been better than expected, and Marbury received the added bonus of having positive press in every city.
But the only thing that matters to Knicks fans is whether Marbury can stay healthy and help the team win games. For Marbury, that's a tough sales job. The Knicks have not had a winning record since Marbury arrived, and now the long-term health of their best player is a growing concern.
Marbury, 29, has a history of ankle and knee problems, dating to his days with the Phoenix Suns. He has had both ankles surgically repaired and has since developed tendinitis in both knees. Last season, Marbury missed 11 games with a strained left knee and 11 more with a bruised left shoulder.
"I think he's in great shape," Isiah Thomas said. "As long as we're not talking about anything structural with the knees ... most guards get dinged around."
Thomas said he kept Marbury on the sideline last night simply for precautionary reasons. It is unclear if Marbury will play in Friday's preseason finale in New Jersey. But Marbury, who received a cortisone shot for the injury, told reporters that he will be ready for the Nov.1 season opener at Memphis.
"I can do everything that I normally do," Marbury said. "They just want to make sure that it's all right for now."
The injury did prevent Marbury and Steve Francis from getting any quality time on the court together. The Knicks' projected starting backcourt has appeared in just two of the team's five exhibition games after having played sparingly last season.
"We've been playing together throughout the whole training camp," Marbury said. "We have a nice balance and nice chemistry playing with each other. I know what he's going to do on the basketball court."
Francis missed one game with a sore right knee and was not available for last Saturday's game against Boston after having oral surgery. There has been doubt as to whether a Marbury-Francis backcourt can work. After pushing to acquire Francis last season, then-coach Larry Brown advised management to in late April to trade both guards.
The contracts of Marbury and Francis make them nearly impossible to deal. Thomas has no other choice but to make it work.
"They've had a lot of practices together so I'm not really concerned," Thomas said. "They are pros. They'll be able to handle the situation, whatever we throw at them."