CBA star Marbury to receive Chinese 'green card'

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There's no other foreign athlete that has cemented himself into the Chinese culture quite like Stephon Marbury.

Stephon Marbury of Beijing reacts during the fifth round of match in the best-of-seven finals of the CBA league in Beijing, March 19, 2015. [Photo/Xinhua]

His efforts are being rewarded by the city of Beijing who is expected to grant the three-time Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) champion with a Chinese "green card", or permanent residence permit, at the MasterCard Center later this month.

The two-time NBA all-star who left the US and a 20 million US-dollar NBA contract behind six years ago to play pro basketball in China. He led Beijing to their third and second straight Chinese basketball league title in March and was voted the CBA finals MVP.

"It's a high honor to be the only foreigner playing in the CBA to be granted the card. I've already embraced the city (as my home). It just added more of the legality part to be able to do investments, and to bring business here legitimately, and then to buy a house, and to buy a car, to do all little different things in Beijing. It's pretty cool to be able to do that in a country where it's not allowed by many, you know to be the first basketball player to receive it. That's a historical moment," said Marbury.

The 38-year-old American is so popular in his adopted hometown that he was named honorary citizen of Beijing. Outside Beijing's home court, the MasterCard Center, Marbury has his own statue.

"They just approved it recently. I think I will receive it officially on Christmas Day. That's one of the best things (to have the permit). I don't have to apply for a visa anymore. So I can just come and go as I please without going through all of that stuff."

China started granting permanent residence permits to foreigners in 2004. Since then, about 5,000 foreigners have received permits.

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