Directed by Coodie and Chike Ozah
Available to stream on Netflix, or order your copy here!
A Kid from Coney Island Review
The life of an NBA player is hard. While fans drool over the athleticism, talent, and finesse of legends such as Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, and Tim Duncan, we often forget that these boys are, well, boys. The human element gets overshadowed by the business side of professional sports where the multimillion-dollar contracts are signed; and where players are quickly discarded when the franchise decides to pursue other options.
No one better exemplified the rags-to-riches-to-rags storyline than NBA superstar Stephon Marbury, whose talent made him a legend in his hometown at a very early age; and whose passion for the game eventually drove him out of the NBA altogether. From the outside looking in, Marbury looked, at the time, like another case of an ego run rampant. ESPN ran endless stories about his inability to work with others, his lack of leadership, and his constant clashes with coaches. The man once touted as a shoo-in for a title when he was drafted alongside Kevin Garnett in Minnesota was bounced around the league until the league decided it had seen enough.
What really happened?
A Kid from Coney Island retells Marbury’s story from his point of view via interviews with close friends and family members who (rightly or wrongly) paint the man as a tragic hero — a misunderstood victim undone by a series of unfortunate events, including the sudden death of his father late in his NBA career. But Coodie and Chike Ozah’s documentary is much more than another redundant 30 for 30 episode. The film ultimately serves as a cautionary tale about the sleazy underbelly of professional sports, particularly the NBA — an organization that chews through young stars the way a lion consumes a gazelle. Young men like Marbury are too blinded by fame to see their eventual demise lurking just around the corner; and before they know it find themselves blacklisted or rotting on a lottery-bound team that views them as little more than a trade chip.
We watch this firsthand in Coney Island as Marbury rises from young up-and-coming superstar alongside the likes of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Antawn Jamison, to a generational talent drafted fourth overall by the Milwaukee Bucks (who traded him to Minnesota for a future first-round pick and the draft rights to Ray Allen). Marbury and Garnett formed an incredible one-two punch, but contract disputes ultimately led to their separation; and Marbury quickly found himself leapfrogging from New Jersey to Phoenix to New York to Boston and finally out of the NBA completely.
Marbury was considered difficult to work with, a title that cemented itself when he clashed with Larry Brown at the 2004 Olympics. In fact, when the U.S. Men’s Basketball Team failed to to bring home the gold for the first time in the NBA players era, Marbury, whether deserved or not, endured most of the blame.
Before long, Marbury was seen as the superstar that never was, which forced him to pack his bags and head to China where he saw a career resurgence and eventually led the Beijing Ducks to its first-ever CBA championship; and even had a statue built in his honor.
Sounds like one of those cheesy Disney sports movies from the 90s, right?
A Kid from Coney Island is much more than that. Surprisingly packed with emotion and plenty of insight into the darker world of professional sports, this documentary hits hard in its endeavors to clear the air on one of sports’ more controversial figures. As a fan, you may still bitterly resent Marbury the player after the credits roll, but you’ll also likely gain a newfound respect for Marbury the man after watching his fall from grace and astonishing return to prominence.