Shawn Marion on choosing Cleveland, 2011 title with Dallas
MANILA, Philippines - Shawn Marion has had a pretty notable NBA career thus far.
With four NBA All-Star Game appearances, two All-NBA Third Team awards, multiple stints with contenders in the Playoffs, and an NBA championship in 2011, it's likely Marion's name will be called to enter the Naismith Memorial Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame once he retires from the league and becomes eligible for entry.
But aside from his accomplishments on the court, Marion will also be remembered for his charitable ventures, despite him admitting he doesn't like receiving credit for helping out, as he calls it a pleasure to do so without any strings attached.
"I used to have a foundation. I used to work with single family homes, single mothers. I do events where I pick families and give gifts every year. I love giving back. It's a great call," the 36-year-old NBA veteran shared in an exclusive interview with Rappler on Wednesday, August 27.
Marion is currently in Manila for Operation Hoops Cares 2014's project, which aims to raise awareness about anti-bullying and anti-hazing in Philippine schools.
"I do a free camp every year," Marion added, before saying that, "I'm not doing it for attention; I'm doing it cause I know what it takes and feels like."
Marion mentioned that he plans to continue achieving his humanitarian goals in a city where he will play professional basketball for the first time in his career; with the same team that took NBA free agency in 2014 by storm: Cleveland, Ohio.
That’s where Marion will join a four-time MVP and the most sought after free agent this off-season as they try to bring the craving town a professional sports championship for the first time in nearly 50 years.
Family comes first
Despite nearing the twilight of his career, Marion was an important part of the Dallas Mavericks' 2013-2014 NBA campaign. With averages of 10.4 PPG, 6.5 RPG in 76 regular season games, 'The Matrix' proved he has managed to put off Father Time at least for a while more.
Other than his production on the stat sheet, Marion also remains one of the most versatile players in the game. He shot 35% from three-point range last year, making him a viable threat from outside despite his unorthodox shooting style. His six-foot-seven frame allows him to defend opposing wing players and some of the smaller power forwards. And he remains a threat on the break even if he may no longer jump above the roof similar to his early days with the Phoenix Suns.
But the pros outweigh the cons, which was why Marion was a target of many teams in free agency over the past two months - Indiana and Miami, to name a few. However, Marion ultimately decided to agree to a deal with the Cavs, teaming up with the returning LeBron James, newcomer Kevin Love, and young star Kyrie Irving.
Marion, who will finalize the agreement with his signature upon returning to the United States, says he chose Cleveland because "I was looking at the teams and see who I think was the best fit to make a real run at a championship."
But more than that, Marion wanted to be close to the biggest priority in his life today as he looks to attain a second NBA title.
"The distance between me and my son. I wanted to make sure I was close to my son where we weren't too far away and I can either drive or fly," according to the soon-to-be-Cavalier, alluding to the proximity of Cleveland and Chicago, where his son resides, which is four and a half hours away by car.
"I just wanted to make sure that he's involved. I got a new-born son. So, you know, he's my priority right now."
"He's more a priority than I am."
Of course, playing with arguably the most loaded team in the NBA - at least on paper - helps make that decision easier as well.
"I'm excited. I think it's going to be fun. It speaks for itself. I wanna try to add to my legacy. I think we have a good chance of winning a championship."
The Cavaliers, though, will have their hands full with teams like Chicago, Atlanta, and possibly even Miami looking to derail them in the Eastern Conference. Out West, San Antonio (the defending champions) and Oklahoma City are still highly-formidable threats, not to mention the other list of contenders in the league's superior conference.
"I think everybody is going to be a threat for us. We're going to have that ‘X’ on the back of our shirts from day one," Marion indicated. "So we want to go out there and play. It is what it is."
Other than adjusting to a new city, new ownership, new coach, and more, Marion will also have to adjust to coming off the bench after starting all games for the Mavericks dating back to the 2011-2012 season. In Cleveland, his main objective will be to back-up the guy who happens to be the best basketball player in the world today.
"We played on the same teams before. I know what kind of guy he is, and I know what to expect now," Marion mentioned about said guy, LeBron James. "We're in the same team now, we're playing for one goal, which is to win a championship."
Winning a championship is something Marion has done before - ironically, at the expense of the guy he's about to back-up and try to win a second title with in Cleveland.
"We just knew we couldn't be beat"
On a summer night in Miami, Florida on June 13, 2011, the Dallas Mavericks were about to win their first ever NBA championship. While James, then a member of the Miami Heat, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh could only bow their heads in disappointment, Dirk Nowitzki headed to the locker room before the dying seconds of the ballgame could come to a close, his emotions kicking in and taking over.
Marion, on the other hand, was beaming with joy. The 2010-2011 NBA season was about to come to an end, and he was about to celebrate an evening to remember with his team, but not before they received the Larry O' Brien trophy at center court.
The Mavs overcame an injury to Nowitzki early in the season, dispatched the Portland Trail Blazers after a painful loss in Game 3 of their first-round series, swept the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in the semis, taught the upstart Oklahoma City Thunder a lesson in Playoff basketball in the conference finals, and then humbled the villains of the NBA, Miami, in the Finals, while also avenging their loss in 2006 to the same team.
And when the battle was over and the championship was won, Marion threw his hands up in the air. A long journey filled with painful playoff defeats didn't matter then. He was an NBA champion.
"We just felt like we couldn't be beaten. We had the most talented league in that year. We were deep. We just knew we couldn't be beat," noted Marion, who averaged 11.9 PPG and 6.3 RPG in the 2011 NBA Playoffs.
"It's definitely a true blessing," he said about his time with the Mavericks, which lasted five years. "It's a hell of an organization, it is what it is."
That organization wouldn't be what it is if not for Mark Cuban, who is adored by his players despite looking more like a villain to the public thanks to his outspoken, confrontational ways, or when he's getting fined by David Stern or the league.
"Awesome, awesome. He's awesome. We're going to be friends forever," Marion said about the owner he played for the past few seasons. "That's my guy. He's a great owner, but he's a fan first - that's what everybody gotta understand, he's a fan first."
But Marion's appreciation doesn't end with just Cuban. Other than naming Nowitzki one of the three players he has enjoyed playing with most in his NBA career - Jason Kidd and Penny Hardaway were the other two - the four-time All-Star said he will always remember every guy from 2011.
"Jason Terry… Tyson Chandler, a lot of those guys from that championship year was fun to play with."
With a different cast of guys this upcoming NBA season, Marion will aim to duplicate the bond and success he had with the Mavs in Cleveland, as the team faces lofty expectations from pundits and themselves.
When asked where the Cavs will finish the season, Marion said: "I don't like to do stuff like that."
"I already know what I want to say." - Rappler.com