WALTHAM — Stephon Marbury had been in this position before. About 10,000 times.
The ball was in his hands. The game, be it on a schoolyard in Coney Island or in some NBA arena, was on the line. And he took the big shot.
Tuesday night, the score was tied, 91-91, with 17 seconds left in Game 5 of the Boston Celtics series with the Chicago Bulls, when the ball was passed to the wide open Marbury in the right corner.
Two months into the Stephon Marbury Experiment, his moment had arrived.
Two months of being the fourth or fifth option. Two months of feeling his way around the most historic basketball organization in the world. Two months of playing basketball with his hands tied behind his back.
So what did Marbury do in his moment of truth?
He froze. And then he passed it to Rajon Rondo, who had to rush a tough shot, which missed badly.
"It looked a little worse live," explained Celtics coach Doc Rivers yesterday. "When you watch the film, he saw that Rondo was open. Rondo was surprised that he got the ball, but Stephon passed it to the open man."
That's a coach covering his player's back.
"Should I have shot it?" said Marbury. "Maybe. But we won the game. So, everything turned out OK."
Why didn't Marbury shoot? Why didn't his instincts take over? Why didn't he embrace "his" moment as a Boston Celtic?
"I hadn't been in the game for about an hour and a half," said Marbury. "I just didn't feel comfortable."
While we may question his judgment — I certainly do in this case — we can't question about Marbury's willingness to be part of a team.