KEEP OUT, MARBURY!
ZEKE BARS STEPH FROM GARDEN
By MARC BERMAN
February 29, 2008 -- Stephon Marbury Stephon Marbury has been instructed by Isiah Thomas not to attend Knicks New York Knicks home games - another indication of the continuing feud between the former pals, The Post has learned.
According to a Marbury confidant, the embattled point guard is under a gag order by Knicks management, forbidding him from speaking to the media. Marbury has not commented since his Jan. 22 ankle surgery. "They've got a muzzle on him," the confidant said.
Marbury began rehab 11 days ago at the club's Westchester practice facility, and he has wanted to join the club on the home bench at the Garden since the All-Star break, according to the friend. Marbury is one of three captains, along with Jamal Crawford Jamal Crawford and Malik Rose.
Thomas disrespected Marbury on Wednesday night when he talked about next season's backcourt and did not mention Marbury. Thomas said the Knicks need to add a point guard to next season's club, saying Nate Robinson, Jamal Crawford and Fred Jones need help with ballhandling.
Thomas was given two chances to correct himself, but declined to add Marbury to next season's point-guard mix. Marbury still has one year left and $21 million on his pact - a valuable commodity for a team looking to get under the salary cap after the 2008-09 season.
Marbury has not attended a Knicks game since they faced the Nets at the Meadowlands Jan. 16 as he awaited word on his MRI. When surgery became more involved than anticipated - seven bone fragments were removed in a two-hour procedure - Marbury was not fit to attend games in the two weeks following the operation as he was on heavy pain medication. But now, the friend said, he's ready to cheer on the club from the bench. The Post has reported Marbury is out for the season, though the Knicks won't acknowledge it.
"He's going to practice all the time, rehabbing, interacting, watching games on TV at home," Robinson said. "He supports us 100 percent."
That Marbury has been instructed not to travel with the club makes sense because it could interfere with rehab. But Marbury, the friend said, doesn't understand why he can't go to home games.
Insiders believe Thomas feels Marbury cost the Knicks the season by rebelling so strongly in November when the coach looked to remove Marbury from the starting lineup after five games. Marbury's bolting of Phoenix fractured the locker room. Thomas also resents Marbury for having surgery instead of trying to postpone it. "It was very bad timing for the team," the friend said, "but it had to be done."
Thomas said Wednesday if Marbury had the season he did in 2006-07, the Knicks "would've won five, six more games and we'd be right in the thick of things."