Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Damn Bassy! In High School You Was The Man Bassy! AKA What The Fuck Happened To You?
For anyone that's a basketball fan, you've surely heard the news already that the former 13th pick in 2004 NBA Draft and New York high school and playground legend Sebastian Telfair has been let go by the Boston Celtics. Wyc Grousbeck released a statement to media outlets a while back letting them know that Sebastian Telfair will no longer be rocking the distinguished kelly green and white anymore.
Where did Bassy go wrong first? Was it asking for #31 when everyone in Boston knows that it's Cedric "Cornbread" Maxwell's old number (not to mention that it's retired and he's a legend and the Celtics current radio voice?) How about having an amazing showing at the Las Vegas Summer League and then completely forgetting how to play point guard once the season started, thereby allowing Rajon Rondo to surpass him in every way, shape or form? Was it his reluctance to use his speed and push the tempo? How about him not penetrating and kicking to the open shooters? How about his tentativeness to shoot when he was wide open? Maybe it was that he showed flashes of brilliance too far apart and was largely ineffective when he was on the court? How could that dude rockin' #30 be the same guy as the one that led the Lincoln High Railsplitters to three consecutive City championships in New York? How could he be the same dude that used to run with Team Roc A Fella at the Rucker?
How could he be the same dude that basketball writers at Slam and Dime magazine have been writing about since he hit puberty? Is this cat really the same dude that ran in the Adidas ABCD Camp for four straight years against NBA level talent and dominated? I still remember the video clip of him catching a two handed alleyoop from LeBron James back in 2002 (Yeah, he can dunk). I still remember sitting in the stands of the old Shaw's Summer League (it moved from Boston to Las Vegas after the Democratic National Convention forced it to move) reading that Slam with Bassy and LeBron on the cover.
I shake my head thinking that the dude that I saw play for the Celtics this year with no passion or drive is the same cat that had two national games on ESPN in 2004, his senior year of high school (all with a camera crew following him around getting footage for the documentary "Through The Fire") in which he faced his highly touted nemesis, Darius Washington and his Edgewater (FL) squad. Later on he faced the next great big man Dwight Howard and his Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy (GA) squad at the Isles Prime Time Shootout.
He was fouled hard, double teamed and jeered in hostile gyms all while celebrities like Jay-Z watched in the front row. He carried his team on his back and lead them to victory in both instances against insurmountable odds in dramatic fashion in front of the glaring lights and scrutiny of the sports media. In both games, Sebastian laid it all out on the line and gave two virtuoso performances (27 points and 7 assists in the first and 30 points in the second game including the game winning three pointer with a hand in his face falling away). Any sportswriters or fans that weren't convinced he was the real deal were now believers that the 6'0 kid from C.I. in Brooklyn might be the next great NYC point god. Shit, he even made the cover of Sports Illustrated!
Rick Pitino over at Louisville began to worry...he'd been burned by so many preps that jumped to the NBA he began to think that Bassy was all but gone. The attention he received during Lincoln High's playoff run reached a fever pitch. With each win it came closer and closer and the questions came more and more furiously...Is Bassy going to college or the NBA? His life began to parallel Jesus Shuttlesworth's from Spike Lee's "He Got Game'" (ironically enough, the character of Jesus Shuttlesworth was modeled after Telfair's cousin, Stephon Marbury). After the succesful basketball season in which Bassy led Lincoln High to a third consecutive city championship (which is a tough task in NYC) everyone knew it was coming...it was merely up to Bassy to formally announce it.
After ending his senior season by averaging 31 points and 8 assists a game and performing in a few high school all star games (including the McDonald's All American game where Bassy went for the assist record and ended up with 2 points and 9 dimes) it was time to let the world know what the deal was. In Spring 2004, Sebastian Telfair officially announced that he was entering the 2004 NBA Draft and signing a lucrative sneaker deal with Adidas/AG Salomon Group. He was all smiles at the press conference. His squeaky clean image and high level of poise under the constant scrutiny of the basketball world and the New York media lead Adidas to think that he would be successful at the next level and help them sell a shitload of kicks...as we all now know, neither of those things happened.
Sebastian Telfair was picked #13 (his number backwards) in the first round of the 2004 NBA Draft by the Portland Trailblazers. They were known as the "Jailblazers" in the league and the brass in their office's thought that Bassy's clean cut image and lack of any problems in his past made him their point guard of the future...Plus, he'd have Maurice Cheeks there to coach him. It was a perfect fit..on paper at least. Bassy was never able to win the starting job outright from Steve Blake, Juan Dixon or Jarrett Jack and he was caught with a loaded gun on the Blazers team jet in Boston (ironically) during the 2005 season. After a disapointing couple of seasons in Portland, he was shipped off to the Celtics on a draft night deal made before the 2006-7 NBA season.
He impressed fans with his showing at the Las Vegas Summer League and Celtics fans had high hopes for their new point guard acquisition...that shit didn't pan out well, either. His problems on the court were compounded by the instances surrounding him getting robbed outside of Justin's in October 2006. The following events cast doubt on exactly what kind of cat Bassy is...Keep in mind that we have Ron Artest and Steve Jackson running around the court in the NBA. Sebastian Telfair ain't gangsta. He's far from a thug, yet and still he's caught enough cases and had enough run ins with the law to make people in positions of power and influence to think different. Here are his stats over the last 3 seasons and an article containing Wyc Grousbeck's statement regarding Bassy's current status as a Celtic.
Are we witnessing yet another story of failure from a highly touted sports star that's been thrust into the spotlight since he was 13 years old? Would we have seen his deficiences if he went to college instead of the NBA? Was the pressure too much for Bassy to rep Brooklyn and support nearly 20 family members with his earnings? Did the weight of trying to make it for his brother Jamel Thomas that didn't get the opportunity to shine in the NBA or living in the shadow of his legendary cousin, Stephon Marbury prove to be his undoing? The only good part to this story is that it's still being written. Bassy can still salvage his career, his image, and most importantly HIMSELF. Stay up, Bassy...I'll be rooting for you same as back when you were the youngest kid at Adidas ABCD Camp.