Coach Marbury has a vision

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Former NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury, co-founder and head coach of the new Stronger Me Basketball Training Camp, poses with young players at Sunday's launch in Beijing.

Just three months after playing his last game and stepping into retirement, Stephon Marbury is ushering in a new episode in his China saga.

After ending his 22-year playing career with the CBA's Beikong Flying Dragons in February, Marbury is back on the court as co-founder and head coach of the Stronger Me Basketball Training Camp, which was launched on Sunday at the Affiliated High School of Peking University

Around 100 kids attended the initial tryout session, with Marbury barking instructions at the young hopefuls with his trademark intensity throughout the two-hour session.

The former NBA All Star and three-time CBA champion believes his commitment to the game in his adopted home and his hands-on involvement sets his new venture apart from the competition.

"For our camp, the difference is that I will be here because I'm living in China, and I will be active in participating with the kids," Marbury told China Daily.

"I think that's going to play a vital role. Having retired, I will be able to be here and still have an impact in creating opportunities for the kids to play the way we feel they are capable of playing once they are under our tutelage.

"My playing career has ended, but the second chapter of my story here is just beginning."

Marbury, who led the Beijing Ducks to three CBA titles between 2012 and 2015, was made an honorary citizen of the capital city.

Beijing Guotai Sports is also on board with the program, providing Marbury with an elite crew of retired CBA players and former under-17 national trainers, who will roll out a tailor-made curriculum for children aged 6 to 18.

The program will run three more free tryouts through June 10 to select standout performers for advanced training at a nine-day camp overseen by Marbury in July.

Demand for American-led hoops training programs is soaring in China, but organizers are confident Marbury's appeal, especially in Beijing, is an added plus.

"It's just a start for what is expected to be a longer partnership with Marbury to expand his influence and leverage our resources to build a new system for basketball talent development and related businesses," said Wang Yuanhao, chairman of Guotai Sports.

Since arriving in China in 2010 with the Shanxi Brave Dragons, Marbury has become a megastar here, with his efforts to fit into Chinese culture and everyday life in Beijing helping him transcend his sport.

The 41-year-old New York native has a statue erected in his honor outside the Ducks' Wukesong Arena home, a personal museum called "Marbury House" near Tian'anmen Square and a permanent residence permit that allows him to enter the country without a visa.

Not surprisingly, the Marbury brand has flourished, with his Starbury sports gear, numerous endorsement deals and even a biopic starring the man himself, which was released last August, raking in the cash.

In April, Sun Seven Stars Investment Group, founded by Chinese media tycoon Bruno Wu and his TV host wife Yang Lan announced plans to develop a sports-entertainment business, with Marbury chairing the group's sports division.

Meanwhile, Sun Guohua, chairman of the Beijing Basketball Association, revealed that more partnerships with Marbury and Guotai Sports regarding the city's elite youth development program will be launched in the near future.

However, with so many irons in the fire, Marbury insists his focus remains on the court.

"Basketball is what brought me here and changed my life forever," he said. "It's important for me to continue to create a foundation that the younger generation will be able to build on.

"I will be here in the summer to make sure we not only start out right but continue to allow people to see what it is that we are doing with this youth program.

"If you have some other guys playing in the NBA who have camps here, they are not really here that much.

"Our situation is completely different in that we are not only hands-on, we are right here."

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