The height of Starbury, the beginning of Tony Parker
The reason Phoenix had a chance to topple San Antonio was because Tony Parker was an unheralded 20-year-old from France, in his second season in the NBA and completely at Marbury’s mercy. In four regular season games, the Suns won the series 3-1 as Marbury torched Parker with averages of 32.5 points on 50 percent shooting and 8.8 assists.
That’s Derrick Rose digits in today’s world. Much of it was simply Marbury’s dominance in the 2002-03 season. He was an All-Star, a warrior and an underrated defender (I recall him going nearly punch-for-punch against Allen Iverson that season). But what defined Marbury as a player was that patented, New York-identifiable floater; his go-to move. That year, arguably his best in the league He had the swagger of Coney Island leading him to be The Man – he hit a number of game-winners spanning the year – on a squad that featured two guys who would later be The Man (Amar’e Stoudemire and Joe Johnson) and two others who were always damn close (Penny Hardaway and Shawn Marion). Oh, and he swiped the victory from the Spurs’ grasp in that epic Game 1.
Meanwhile, Marbury’s dominance on Parker was the last of its kind. During the regular season, Parker could only muster 10.3 points on 19 percent shooting to go with 5.5 dimes against the Suns. Parker survived the onslaught, however, and thereafter cemented himself into the NBA landscape with the Spurs’ eventual title. And is it of no coincidence that Parker’s career blossomed after that butt-kicking at the hands of Marbury? Making Marbury’s floater his own weapon, Parker ironically and repeatedly used it in destroying the Suns and Steve Nash time and time again following the Marbury years.