Stephon Marbury Calls Coronavirus an 'Invisible Monster,' Explains Why He Delivered Medical Supplies From China to New York

Former NBA star Stephon Marbury has revealed he was moved to donate medical masks to healthcare staff in New York after losing a relative to coronavirus, describing the virus as "an invisible monster".

The 43-year-old has pledged to donate 10 million N95 masks to healthcare workers on the frontline in the Big Apple after arranging for a supplier in China, where he has lived for the last decade, to sell the masks for $2.75 each. That's almost a two-thirds discount on the original retail price of $7.50.

"I've lost loved ones to this invisible monster," Marbury told NBC New York on Sunday.

"I have a cousin who died yesterday due to the coronavirus, my family is dealing with a very difficult time."

A Brooklyn native, Marbury told ESPN's Marc J. Spears on The Undefeated that he had been asked to source medical equipment by Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams, whom he had been in direct contact with.

"I'm trying to help my borough, I'm trying to help New York, I'm trying to help America in providing access to the masks," he explained in an interview that aired on Monday night.

"The Brooklyn borough president reached out to me to help him source some masks [...] gowns and goggles. I have friends who know people in all of these different areas that manufacture [medical equipment] and I've been speaking with them and trying to accumulate it [the equipment required]."

He then touched again on how the coronavirus outbreak had personally affected his family, explaining his late cousin's mother had also contracted the virus and was fighting for her life in hospital.

Before moving to China in 2010, Marbury spent almost a decade in the Tri-State Area, playing three seasons with the then New Jersey Nets and five years with the New York Knicks. Marbury explained that being stuck on the other side of the world made seeing his family struggle and his hometown ravaged by a virus was even harder.

"It's pretty difficult in this trying time to stay focused and handle the things I need to handle," he explained.

As of Tuesday morning, over 164,000 cases have been reported in the U.S.—by far the highest tally in the world.

Over 3,100 deaths have been recorded in the U.S. and almost 6,000 people have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking the outbreak using combined data sources.

New York City has been the hardest-hit area in the country, accounting for over 38,000 cases and reporting 914 deaths of the state's total death tally, which stands at over 1,000.

Almost 38,000 people have died globally since the outbreak of coronavirus began in Wuhan, a city located in China's central Hubei province, late last year. There have been over 787,000 confirmed cases globally, with more than 166,000 recoveries.

Marbury also revealed he contacted NBA commissioner Adam Silver on March 8, urging him to suspend the season because of the COVID-19 outbreak. He warned Silver that packed arenas would be fertile ground for spreading the virus, with players, fans, arena workers and broadcasters all capable of infecting each other without even knowing it.

Three days later, Silver suspended the season after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert became the first player to test positive for coronavirus

Earlier this month, the commissioner acknowledged all options were on the table in terms of contingency plans considered to resume the season, but admitted he could not give a precise timeline as to when the NBA may return.

The league initially suspended its season for 30 days, but following guidelines released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all events drawing crowds of more than 50 people should be canceled or postponed until mid-May at least.

Marbury added he thought it was "a very big challenge for the league to get going this season" and urged the public to follow the social distancing measures imposed by the authorities and observe the lockdowns wherever they have been implemented.

"Once people adjust their minds and start adapting to this new way of living, that's when we're going to be able to see the curve [of infections] starting to drop," he explained.

"Because the people are gonna stop the curve, not the doctors."

Stephon Marbury
Stephon Marbury, head coach of the Beijing Royal Fighters, in action during the 2019/2020 CBA League game against Shanxi Tong Xi at Beijing Olympic Sports Center on December 31, 2019 in Beijing, China. Fred Lee/Getty