PHILADELPHIA (AP) -The only way a grief-stricken Stephon Marbury knows how to properly pay tribute to his late father is play basketball.
Marbury briefly considered skipping New York's game at Philadelphia on Friday night until he realized how much his father, Donald Marbury, would have wanted him to keep on playing. So a day after Marbury and the entire Knicks team packed the funeral, the Knicks' guard was ready to go.
``My whole basketball career has been a tribute to my father,'' Marbury said. ``When I made it to the NBA, we all made it to the NBA. We all were pushing.''
Marbury joked with his teammates before the game, laughing and walking around with headphones resting on top of his head. He spoke briefly and calmly with reporters before the game about how his faith has gotten himself and his family through a sad and painful week.
Donald Marbury was taken from Madison Square Garden to a hospital during halftime of the Knicks' loss to Phoenix on Sunday night. He died of a heart problem before the game ended.
``I'm happy that I came because I am doing the right thing,'' he said. ``This is definitely something that I needed to do to get back into the swing of things. Eventually, I was going to have to get back into it anyway.''
Marbury missed New York's 100-93 win over the New Jersey on Wednesday.
Knicks coach Isiah Thomas was among the mourners who attended Thursday's funeral. Thomas said he was glad to have Marbury back and insisted last month's clash between the team's star point guard and coach was behind them.
``Emotionally, it will be a difficult situation for him,'' Thomas said. ``We'll just try and get him acclimated back into what we're doing as quickly as possible.''
Marbury sent a statement this week thanking fans for their ``outpouring of support, heartfelt prayers and words of encouragement.''
``What I tried to constantly emphasize to him is in the overall game of life, he's won big time,'' Thomas said. ``He's won in a major way.''
Marbury won't be the only starter back in the lineup. Center Eddy Curry, who sat out against the Nets because of a sprained left ankle, had the ankle taped at the shootaround and started against the Sixers.
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