The Steph Odyssey
Marbury the teaching tool.
by Sam Rubenstein
This is important because it’s timely. I am in full command of planning and teaching a 9th grade English class now. We are working on Homer’s Odyssey. One thing I noticed is that when people like Odysseus or Ajax or whomever, disrespect the Gods, terrible things happen to them. This is also why there was so much kindness and hospitality back then. Everyone had to be nice or they’d catch a lightning bolt through the skull. As my students would say “That’s OD!”
Anyways, I needed a modern day example of someone who was disrespectful and boastful, and all the other stuff that Gods hate.
“I’m the best point guard in the NBA.” – Stephon Marbury, January 1, 2005.
In the midst of a lesson on the themes of hospitality and manners and big fat Greek weddings and respect, I read the quote out loud, pulled my Marbury jersey out of my bag, and showed it to the children.
The hatred, oh the delicious hatred…
One boy started shaking violently and just ranted “He sucks!” over and over again. One girl compared him to Ajax, who proclaimed that he didn’t need Poseidon’s help to cross the sea. (As if!!!) Another said “Yeah so what though, he’s getting money!” and that led into the whole discussion of how this student was correct, but that Steph failed in his quest to be the boy from Brooklyn to go on a journey to exotic new places: the frozen twin cities, the ghastly swamps of East Rutherford, the bone dry desert, an ODYSSEY if you will, and then come back home victorious.
Other kids talked about how they like the Celtics or Lakers more than the Knicks, and it came back to one big realization for me. Kids today in New York don’t respect the Knicks because in the formative years of their sports-viewing lives the Knicks are a hot mess. Back in myyyyyy day, I remember being swept up in the excitement of Knicks playoff runs, and the vicious beatings of kids who would come to school wearing Bulls apparel. Sure, they never won it all, but there was so much pride, the Go New Go York Go! movement, and a team of violent CBA reject thugs we loved. I can’t imagine a kid watching what was happening over the past 5 years or so and claiming this team as their own. Don’t tell my students this, but I remember as I was watching game 7 of the ’94 Eastern Conference Finals that put the Knicks into the Finals as my parents came home with one of my “underachiever” report cards. They started to yell at me, but I was like “You think I give a (expletive)? We’re going to the Finals!” The thing about the good ‘ol days, is they’re the good ‘ol days.
And so… Steph and Isiah and Layden and James Dolan and Larry Brown and all of those wonderful people have not only made their team bad, they’ve tainted the sweet innocent development of our children*. Now it’s over. I told them that much like the crumbled ruins of the Acropolis, a Stephon Marbury Knicks jersey is an ancient artifact, one for historical reference but no longer active. I hope I’m right about the Acropolis thing.
(*Sweet and innocent you say? I asked a kid today how he liked “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.” He said “What? We grow trees in Harlem!” An A+ answer!)
Eventually Stephon would claim that he found Jesus and that gave him some calm in his life. But come on, what’s Jesus Christ gonna do for a basketball player? The guy dribbles like he’s got holes in his hands. Hello? Is this thing on? Oh wow, am I deliriously tired.
Okay, so allegedly Steph to Boston… this is clearly David Stern making sure we get the Kobe-LeBron Finals showdown.
Hey good luck Stephon! I’m sure that fanbase will welcome you with open arms. Finish the undercover mission we sent you on.