Remember these days? About to take over the world, it was only a matter of time:
It was Coney Island, '02, a great year for basketball, but an even better year for Sebastian Telfair. And he wanted in.
Two years later Sebastian Telfair would grace the cover of Sports Illustrated before declaring for the draft straight out of high school. There's not much doubting that hype went too far with Bassy. Now his fourth season in the league, he's already on team number three. His wikipedia entry contains entries under such headings as "2006 handgun incident," "October 2006 robbery incident," and "2007 handgun incident." His career numbers thus far? 7.6 points, 3.4 assists, 39% from the field in 22 minutes per game.
These distinctions tend to stigmatize a person. But exactly why we hold it against an individual when they don't "justify the hype," I will never fully comprehend. Telfair has always been a basketball player. He happened to be a legendary one while at his New York high school, and some observers decided he was going to be a force of nature some day.
They were wrong. And we scorn him for this.
Being a Blazer fan, I still hear the occasional talk about Portland wasting such a high pick on the generously 6' high schooler. I've probably even been an eager participant in some. Truth is, he wasn't even the biggest bust of his draft class. Rafael Araujo at #8 can now be found in a Russian league. Luke Jackson at number 10 has had a turnstile career in and out of the Association. On the all-time busts list, you won't find Telfair near the tippy.
As Bassy is in the last year of his contract, some make allusions that he will be out of the NBA soon. I doubt it. Keeping in mind that he is playing for the worst team in the league, he is pumping out career highs in minutes, field-goal percentage, rebounds, assists, steals, and points. Again, I'm aware there is some horrible-team stat inflation here, but I think his improvement is still significant. Also considering that he is still just twenty-two years old, he will have an NBA home next season.
To reiterate why all is not lost: he is still young and still improving. Force of nature may be out of the question, but solid rotation player is a definite possibility. I hope so, with the amount of turmoil already experienced in his young life it would be something of an inspiration, if we care to notice. His single most important contribution to basketball so far is Through The Fire, and that isn't likely to change. But our attitudes, like his game, can still improve.