Thursday, June 20, 2013

Random NBA Player of the Week: Marcus Liberty

Marcus Liberty is a 6'8" forward from Chicago. In high school, he was legendary. His freshman year he led Crane High School to a frosh-soph title. He then transferred to King College Prep for the rest of his high school career, where he led them to a title in 1986 and a second-place finish in 1987. His 143 points in the '87 tourney set an Illinois Class AA record. In '87 Liberty was an McDonald's All-American, Illinois Mr. Basketball, and Parade Magazine Player of the Year. This illustrious high school career led him to being voted one of the "100 Legends of the IHSA Boys Basketball Tournament" in 2007.

After high school Liberty moved on to the University of Illinois. He was ineligible his first year, but his sophomore year he was a part of the 1988-89 "Flyin' Illini" squad that made it to the Final Four. After three years in Champaign-Urbana, Marcus entered the draft. He went 42nd overall in the 1990 NBA Draft to the Denver Nuggets.

Liberty was a role player for a 1991 Nuggets team that was known for scoring a lot of points (league-best 119.9 ppg) as well as giving up a lot of them (league-worst 130.8 ppg). Marcus would average 6.7 in his first year in 76 appearances. His productivity would go up his second year, as he averaged 9.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. He even recorded five double-doubles, though they all came in losses. While Marcus saw improvement, his team did not. In two seasons the Nuggets went 44-120. Year 3 saw a new coach for the Nuggets: Dan Issel. The team - as well as Marcus - showed promise. Denver went 36-46 while Liberty average 8.1 points and 4.3 boards a game. Heading into 93-94, one would expect both the Nuggets and Liberty to continue the upward trajectory.

Well, the team did, eventually making it to the playoffs in '94 as an eighth seed and knocking off the top seeded Seattle Sonics. However, Marcus was traded at the beginning of the season, unable to enjoy the team's fortune. He went along with Mark Macon to Detroit for Alvin Robertson and a conditional 2nd round draft pick that was never used. Marcus would only play 35 games for the Pistons, averaging 2.9 points and 1.6 rebounds.

Liberty wouldn't make it back to the NBA after '94, instead embarking on a whirlwind eight years that saw him in the CBA, Greece, Turkey, Puerto Rico, Sweden, Japan, the old IBL, the Philippines, the IBA, the Dominican Republic, and Chile. Marcus Liberty ended his basketball career in 1992.

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