Though New York Magazine’s Tommy Craggs insists the Knicks have “scapegoated” Stephon Marbury, the journalist isn’t nearly as quick to quell speculation The Self-Proclaimed No. 1 Point Guard In The NBA is totally nuts.

It was the eve of the first day of Knicks training camp. Marbury was registered at the hotel as œJCIMS. The initials stand for œJesus Christ Is My Savior, which contrasted with the self-aggrandizing travel monikers Marbury used to give himself, variations on his œStarbury nickname. He seemed genuinely excited about the Knicks and his own rebirth. œThis is the most I™ve ever looked forward to playing a season in the NBA, by far, he said. We spoke for two hours, and Marbury was by turns effusive, defensive, and simply bizarre. We talked about the day this summer he was born again, June 29. We talked about the Bible. œI™m in Genesis, he said. œI™m reading from the front of the book. Genesis is hot. He invited me to church with him in Canarsie.

We never made it. Marbury soon told me he was cutting off access because I™d contacted his assistant without his permission.

œI think he™s lost his mind, says Jeffrey œSlice Morton, an old friend who lived with Marbury during his rookie year in Minnesota until the two had a falling-out and who now speaks with him only intermittently. œHe says he™s seen the light, but people that are saved don™t act the way he acts. I think he™s confused.

Marbury may be crazy, but he™s no one™s fool. As Morton also observed, in reference to Marbury™s œConey Island™s Finest tattoo, œStephon is gonna do anything in his power to be the finest, manipulating, destroying, conniving”whatever he™s gotta do. It may be distasteful, it may be incredibly selfish, and it may be conveyed verbally via non sequiturs, but his style does get a certain kind of results. Marbury himself had admitted as much. In the midst of our upbeat Charleston conversation about religion and the new season, he raised the subject of his reputation for selfishness.

œIf I didn™t play the way how I played, I wouldn™t have gotten no max contract, he said. œThey can talk about whatever they wanna talk about me, because I got maxed. I™m a max player. Don™t get mad at me, because I™m telling you what™s real. One plus one is two, all day long, and it™s never gonna change. And that™s factorial.

Newsday’s Ken Berger
suspects there’s something behind Gus Johnson and Kenny Smith raving about Ron Artest the other night, but the simple truth is, “MSG NY”‘s booking committee needs every bit of help they can get when securing musical guests.