BOSTON—Saying that "We cannot all be masters, nor all masters / Cannot be truly follow'd," disruptive point guard Stephon Marbury has been scheming to turn Boston's "Big Three" against one another since he signed with the Celtics last month, apparently trying to claim the team for his own.
Sources within the NBA said that within hours of reporting to his first practice, Marbury had met separately with forward Kevin Garnett, guard Ray Allen, and shooting guard Paul Pierce, and was seen whispering to each in turn while pointing at the other two. When asked what he had said to his teammates, Marbury answered, "I am nothing, if not critical," and refused further comment.
When the Celtics lost Sunday's home game to Detroit 105-95, Marbury, who was scoreless in his 12 minutes of play, could be seen smiling coldly from the bench as Pierce and Allen displayed greatly reduced chemistry, failing to pass the ball to open men or execute picks as effectively as they had in the past.
"I shall of these three fools now make my purse," Marbury was heard to say after the game, although he appeared to be addressing no one and perhaps spoke only to himself. "These stars are of a free and open nature, / And think men honest that but seem to be so, / And will as tenderly be led by the nose / As asses are."
When questioned about the meaning of his aside, Marbury said only, "I am not what I am."
Although Garnett, Allen, and Pierce originally welcomed Marbury to the team, stating that they believed he would be valuable coming off the bench and were looking forward to playing with him, they have since stated publicly that Marbury's secretive nature, conspiring attitude, and constant requests to speak with them alone are already beginning to wear on them.
"After the Detroit loss he pulled me aside and said that I should be as famous as Paul and Kevin," said Allen, who admitted that he found both Marbury's attitude and his language difficult to understand. "Except he said it like, 'Reputation is an idle and most false / imposition: oft got without merit, and lost without / deserving,' and I was like, 'Come on, man, I don't want to hear that.' My numbers are up since I played with them, is all I know, and they don't try and confuse me all the time."
"Stephon told me that the other two guys hated me because I was the most talented," said Pierce, who said speaking with Marbury was beginning to make him feel uncomfortable. "He said I should beware jealousy because it was 'the green-ey'd monster which doth mock / The meat it feeds on.' But I was like, 'Stephon, first of all, Kevin is a way better player than I am.' He just walked away muttering. I don't know what's up with that dude."
Garnett expressed a similar bewilderment with Marbury's behavior.
"Weird thing is, he kept calling the other guys moors, which is just really messed up," the 12-time all-star said. "I mean, what is that, anyway? He didn't say it like it was a good thing. If he plays good basketball he can do what he wants, but I'm not going to listen to anyone call me or my guys moors."
All three men also commented that Marbury had at some point pulled each one of them aside and told them the other two had been "making the beast with two backs."
"I was freaked out, but then I realized he expected me to be jealous, and that freaked me out even more," Garnett said. "Especially when I heard him tell people that's how I injured my right knee. I know Stephon was trouble even way back when we both played for the Timberwolves—he's been trouble everywhere he goes—but this is a whole new level."
Conferring with one another, the Big Three all agreed that Marbury had implied, if not expressly stated, that perhaps Celtics coach Doc Rivers should be stabbed to death, an implication they found unnerving.
When asked for comment, Marbury expressed surprise that his teammates would react to his presence in this way.
"Is it my contract?" asked Marbury, who will receive a prorated veteran's minimum of $1.3 million from the Celtics this season. "Because the money means nothing to me without the respect of my teammates. Good name in man and woman, dear my lord, / Is the immediate jewel of their souls: / Who steals my purse steals trash... / But he that filches from me my good name / Robs me of that which not enriches him / And makes me poor indeed."
When asked for clarification, Marbury responded, "Demand me nothing: what you know, you know: / From this time forth I never will speak [a] word," and requested that all further questions be directed to his agent, one Roderigo of Venice, who as of press time could not be reached.