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Interview with Sebastian Telfair

January 23, 2004 Columns No Comments

Insight into Sebastian Telfair

by Keith Irizarry

When you talk about a point guard, you desire confidence, leadership, pizzazz (especially if you are from New York City), and you want him to be well respected by his peers and coaches. When you discus great point guards, you want a guy that can almost be deified on the court, someone who commands a double team because of his abilities to make plays, whether it be score, make opportunities for his teammates, or simply find ways to win. That’s what He does. Who is He? Keep reading, all the questions you want to ask Him are forthcoming, and the future for Him is bright.

You want confidence, how’s this for confidence: when asked by a local beat writer whether His high school team is the best in the city, He responds simply, “Yes.” The writer does not seem happy with this response, so he delves further with the questioning, “So, you know that your team is the best in the city?” He responds, “What, y’all don’t know?” The other reporters and His surrounding support group (coaches, family, and friends) let out a smothered laugh. These are answers they’ve come to expect from their boy. He doesn’t need to wow them off the court; He’s been doing it on the court for as long as He could walk.

You want leadership? He is on a team that is mostly young, yet He has no problem dishing the ball out and letting His teammates get involved. When needed He’ll step up and make the big shot(s) but He is changing His game. He has become a leader, to the tune of 9 assists per game this season. His teammates know He’s there leader. During pregame warm-ups, He is leading the speeches; He is at the forefront of the layup lines.

Pizzazz, fanciness, showboating: these are three things that will never be a problem for an NYC point guard, but He has mastered incorporating them into a system. Sure there are times He might take it a step too far, but He knows when to tone it down. Behind the back passes, crossovers that break opponents ankles, high arcing fade ways down the lane on players standing 6 to 8 inches taller than Him, or step backs from three point land that leave crowds breathless: yes, He gets a perfect score on all of these.

Respect. It’s a seven letter word that doesn’t get thrown around too often, or maybe it gets thrown around too much. His last name also has seven letters, coincidence, maybe, but He has earned it. His high school coach, Dwayne Morton has nothing but respect for Him. I wanted to know who He played like on the court. Morton answers, “He’s like a Jason Kidd to me. I don’t want to start calling Him names, but where He goes, we go.” Oh yeah, He is consistently rated as one of the best players in His 2004 class. Seven letters, you better recognize.

That’s respect. That’s pressure. Can He handle it? He’s been dealing with pressure all of his life. Growing up in the shadows of his cousins (Stephon and Zach Marbury) and brothers who live and breathe basketball, it was always tough on Him. He takes it all in stride.

Off the record, on the record, doesn’t matter, He was pissed that hoopville had Louisville ranked number 5 in the Top 10 recruiting classes. “Ain’t no one holding Me and Brian Johnson (6-9, 245 pound power forward from Maryland). We gonna go down there and put in work.” I tried to explain to him that this was based on the first half signings and classes like Indiana with Josh Smith, Texas with a bunch of studs, and North Carolina with Marvin Williams just seem to be more ready for the next level. He simply said in NYC fashion, “You’ll see!”

You ask, who is He. He is the best point guard in New York City. He might be the best point guard in the nation. He is the younger cousin of Stephon Marbury. But He is more than all that. He is a bright kid. He is always joking around with friends and teammates. He is a leader. He is ready for future fame, but for now, He is a High School senior getting ready for college. He is Sebastian “Bassy” Telfair, from Coney Island. If you are reading this story, you probably have heard about Him, but with kids that ooze greatness, you can never hear enough.

Irizarry: Why’d you choose Louisville (for college)?

Telfair: After my visit, when I got down there, knowing a couple of players like Taquan Dean and [Francisco] Garcia, and the way Rick Pitino runs his team, it’s like a family life and that’s something I’ve always been around. That’s something my brother Dan, who always coached me preached. They [are] like a family team, so that really drew me to them.

Irizarry: What other schools were recruiting you?

Telfair: What other schools were recruiting me; I don’t know, man, everybody.

Irizarry: Everybody wanted you? Who else did you look at besides Louisville?

Telfair: That’s it, I didn’t really look at anyone else besides Louisville. I didn’t take any other visits. Basically it was a real easy decision with Rick Pitino’s style of play and his tradition.

Irizarry: You have been in the limelight of the media basically your whole life, how has it been growing up like that; having media constantly watching your every move?

Telfair: It has been all positive. Young kid from Brooklyn, always in the newspapers magazines; it puts a smile on my mother’s face. It’s all good things for me and I enjoyed it.

Irizarry: What’s it feel like to be in the same breath as all those great NYC point guards that came before you?

Telfair: It’s good things. It shows all your hard work paid off. It makes you feel good about yourself.

Irizarry: Last year, you spoke with Lebron [James] a lot, have you been able to get a chance to talk to him, and has he had any words of wisdom for you?

Telfair: You know they play like 9 games a week, so it’s hard to talk, but we talk every once in a while. We converse about certain things.

Irizarry: What are your goals both personally and team-wise this season?

Telfair: Just win and make sure my team plays together.

Irizarry: Now let’s have some fun; here are some quick questions for you that don’t even involve basketball. What is your favorite movie?

Telfair: (after a long pause and a laugh) Friday, Chris Tucker is funny, man.

Irizarry: Favorite actor?

Telfair: Jamie Foxx

Irizarry: Favorite actress?

Telfair: Ooh, there are a lot of them, I like Julia Roberts.

Irizarry: Favorite food?

Telfair: Chicken Pizza

Irizarry: Favorite Musician, group, etc.?

Telfair: Roc-a-fella, Jay-Z.

Irizarry: Finally, in ten years, what will people be saying about Sebastian Telfair?

Telfair: (laughs) I don’t’ know man, I hope it’s something positive.


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