Editor's note: Each Monday during the coronavirus pandemic, Monte Poole will examine the virus within the scope of the sports world.
For most of his NBA career, two-time All-Star Stephon Marbury wore a tag so repellent that it hastened his departure from the league.
At age 31, after 13 seasons, the dynamic point guard landed in China and became a national legend.
And now, 11 years after his last NBA game, Marbury is making an impressive effort to shed that label once and for all. The man known for his aggressive offense is pledging to use his energy to attack the coronavirus.
Marbury tells the New York Post that he will utilize his Chinese connections to supply 10 million N95 masks for American hospital workers and other first responders in greater New York, which has been hit particularly hard by the virus. While the typical cost for such masks is between $7 and $8, Marbury is promising a deal to obtain them for the manufacturer’s cost of $2.75.
“This is something that is close and dear to my heart as far as being able to help New York,” Marbury told the Post. “I have family there in Coney Island, a lot of family . . . who are affected by this, so I know how important it is for people to have masks during this time.”
Marbury, 43, who spent eight seasons playing in China and maintains a home in Beijing, is head coach of the local Royal Fighters of the Chinese Basketball Association. Evidence of his clout isn’t hard to find. Marbury has been featured on postage stamps, has a statue and the Marbury Museum is located in Beijing.
There is considerable red tape for Marbury to wipe away – Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have yet to engage – before completing his goal, but kudos to him extending a hand in a time of great need.
Sports Humanitarian of the Week: Drew Brees
By the second weekend of March, most of the country recognized the coronavirus threat and acknowledged the benefit of social distancing. But the French Quarter of New Orleans party on, its streets crowded with overserved revelers raging through swamps of regurgitated alcohol.
Local police resorted to using audio warnings to clear the streets of those reluctant to leave.
Now comes the bill. Louisiana has more than 35,000 cases, according to Gov. John Bel Edwards. More than 150 have died, nearly half from greater New Orleans, where hospitals are horribly overcrowded and understaffed.
Enter Saints quarterback Drew Brees, the biggest sports star in the state. He and his wife, Brittany, announced via Twitter a pledge to donate $5 million toward Louisiana relief efforts.
After considering retirement, the 42-year-old recently agreed to two-year contract worth $50 million, with a reported $27 million guaranteed. Whether it’s 18 percent of his guaranteed money or 10 percent of his maximum total, $5 million represents the largest monetary donation by a single athlete.
Appreciate ya, Drew.
A number of sports figures have either cleared the danger zone or tested negative. Among them:
MLB: Oakland A’s legend Dave Stewart, who battled an unknown illness but tested negative coronavirus and has recovered.
NBA: Celtics guard Marcus Smart, Pistons forward Christian Wood, and Jazz stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert all tested positive but have been cleared. NBA analyst Doris Burke announced she tested positive but is now free of the symptoms that prompted her to seek medical care.
NFL: Saints coach Sean Payton tested positive but has been cleared.
NHL: An unidentified Avalanche player who tested positive has been cleared.
[RELATED: Kerr praises Steph for coronavirus Q&A with Dr. Fauci]
Tested positive and in isolation
NBA: Former Nets center Jason Collins, twin brother of Warriors assistant coach Jarron Collins, announced he tested positive. The Knicks announced that owner James Dolan tested positive, with minimal symptoms, and is in self-isolation. Nets star – and ex-Warrior – Kevin Durant announced he tested positive but must be feeling better; he exchanged playful jabs with Rihanna on an Instagram Live session.
One unidentified member of the Nuggets franchise, two unidentified members of the Lakers franchise, three unidentified members of the 76ers organization and three unidentified members of the Nets – KD would be the fourth – tested positive and entered self-isolation.
NHL: One unidentified member of the Avalanche tested positive and is in self-isolation, along with unidentified members of the organization that had contact with him. Two unidentified members of the Senators tested positive and are in self-isolation.