Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Stephon Marbury for a Cause (Jersey for A Cause and the victims of Biliary Artesia)

Andrew Tan of Jersey Haven, Stephon Marbury, and Sheryl Reyes hold up the Love is Love special and limited edition jersey (with Marbury on the back with his #3) that will benefit victims of Biliary Artesia.
This appears on the NBA Philippines site.

Marbury for A Cause
by rick olivares

If you’ve come expecting the sneer and streetwise attitude that Stephon Marbury displayed during his NBA career to be on full display at the Heroes Café at Bonifacio High Street you’d be pleasantly surprised to see that Star is all smiles and looks you in the eye when you hold a conversation. He smiles and cracks jokes. He never fails to pose for a photo, sign an autograph, or answer questions.

Marbury is in Manila for the fourth time in the last couple of years. He’s back this time to launch “Jersey for A Cause,” a charity where the proceeds of a sale of special and limited edition basketball jersey will all go to the Ang Pamilyang Lansangan Foundation (APLF) to particularly help defray the cost of Biliary Artesia, a disease of the liver that is fatal to children.

During the presscon at Heroes Café to unveil the special jersey, Stephon carried six-year old Hannah Honor, who was successfully treated for the disease. He constantly whispered encouragement to Hannah and her family as well as the other families that APFL brought to the proceedings. “My heart goes out to them, man. That’s a tough situation. People should really do more to help the unfortunate and the needy.”

Hannah wore a Miami Heat shirt and not one of the colors of the five NBA teams he played for in his 14-year career. “That’s all right,” he said of the shirt that bore LeBron James’ name. “At least people are basketball fans. A positive love for the sport can mean good things.”

“But the most important jersey at the moment -- is this one right here,” he said pointing to the special and limited edition jersey manufactured by Jersey Haven that used Filipino colors with the words “Love is love” boldly printed in front. “That’s the home team right there,” Marbury pointed to the families with children afflicted with Biliary Artesia. “My home team.”

“I really hope we can get people to support Jersey for A Cause then that will be meaningful not to me but to the families and children whose lives are at stake. If people can spend a lot of money on gadgets and other luxury goods what helping out here? This is a country (the Philippines) that loves, lives and breathes basketball so what’s the cost of a basketball jersey that goes to a really good cause? I hope Filipinos and basketball fans come out to support this.”

“I am not trying to change the world,” underscored Steph belying rumors that he’s become a new millennium basketball-dribbling Dalai Lama, “I am trying to help the world.”

“Love is love,” the mantra that Marbury recites along with thanking God for hundreds of times a day isn’t something new he thought of after his experiences in China. “It was there from my beginning. It got lost in the shuffle between all the noise and controversy. It’s when I got to China when there was less outside noise that the message got louder. Social media certainly helped me get the message across too.”

Even at the height of his NBA career, Marbury was into philanthropy as he donated huge amounts of his pay to the victims of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina as well as the police, fire, and emergency departments and teachers of New York City.

He even came out with a line of shoes and clothing called “Starbury” that made shoes and clothes at the bargain basement price of $14.98. In China, Marbury is also assisting in other things such as the creation of classrooms for children.

So why the Philippines as well?

Star spoke of how he became friends with agent Sheryl Reyes and local sports scribe Tina Maralit and how they collectively hatched this charity event together. “I love those girls. Their doing good things and that’s something I can appreciate. China’s like my second home now and because of them, the warm reception I get every time I am here and the love that is shown me, the Philippines is my third home.”

“I know what it’s like to not have things at home,” he related. “My mother worked lots of jobs just to put food on the table and clothes and shoes on us. Not everyone makes a lot of money so what if we can do something for them; make their lives a little easier? I am not in this business to take advantage but to help others.”

“When you’re living in America you kind of think you know all you need to know because of what we have but when you go out, you expand your horizons, you know more. There are misconceptions about places like China that you are glad to know aren’t true at all. When you see the world, you know more and you love life more. You appreciate things and realize, ‘Man, life is good and you can do good.’”

After the press conference, Marbury patiently took close to two hours worth of individual interviews fielding questions about his NBA and Chinese Basketball Association careers and his thoughts on today’s basketball stars. Not once did he look at his watch or complained he was tired. He gamely posed for photos with fans and media. He then spent time with some of the families of APLF before going to grab what was a really late lunch (it was well past 2pm when it was all done).

When he stepped out of Heroes Café, a fan asked for a photo. After the photo op, the fan asked if he was here for a game. Marbury explained that it was for “Jersey for a Cause.”

This isn’t about me… but them,” he said pointing to the APLF families and their children.

There were more smiles around.

The special and limited edition Love is Love jersey can be ordered through Jersey Haven's website: or through their Facebook account. ALL the proceeds will go to the children stricken by Biliary Artesia.

Heroes Café, located in Bonifacio High Street sell designer toys, graphic novels, t-shirts of super heroes and collectible items. There’s also café to serve hungry fanboys and collectors.

Read my piece on Stephon Marbury and his China adventure.

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