Trade Gives Telfair Fresh Start

By Peter F. Stringer
July 3, 2006

WALTHAM - Sebastian Telfair is used to being the center of attention. He's been scrutinized for most of his young life.

Already the subject of a book and a documentary during his high school days, Telfair is now under the microscope again in Boston, where he's been brought in to be a "true point guard" after some ups and downs in two seasons in Portland with the Trailblazers.

Acquired along with Theo Ratliff and a 2008 second-round pick in a draft day deal that sent the #7 pick, Raef LaFrentz and Dan Dickau to the Blazers, Telfair will certainly have expectations here in Boston as well after the big draft-day trade.

Sebastian Telfair

Sebastian Telfair said he is excited about playing for a franchise with such tradition and history as he met the press in the Hall of Fame room at the The Sports Authority Training Center at HealthPoint on Monday. (Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty)

"I got a lot of attention out of high school, and coming into the NBA, not being the superstar everyone expected me to be in my first couple of years, that plays a huge role," said Telfair. "But I still have a lot of confidence that I'm going to do a lot of great things and hopefully I can bring my talent here."

Danny Ainge said that while he wouldn't wish that type of scrutiny on his own children, the experience will likely make Telfair stronger in the long run.

"He has gotten a lot of notoriety from a very young age; he was very hyped as a young New York basketball player," said Ainge. "Living up to unfair and unrealistic expectations is a concern. I think the fact that we're getting him after a couple of years of development, after 3000 minutes in the NBA, he's had success and he's had some failures to deal with as well. I like the fact that both of these guys have had to deal with some adversity in their lives."

Ainge was also referring to Powe, the Celtics second round draft pick who grew up with plenty of adversity of his own, not to mention a pair of ACL injuries in four years that may have scared other teams off from drafting him. Powe and Telfair met the media in Waltham Monday afternoon before the team's first summer league practice. Despite being a third year player, Telfair will play with the Celtics summer league team to kick start the process of learning the Celtics system.

And while making the jump from high school to the NBA is challenging, taking your game to the next level where you can become a steady contributor is a whole new challenge in itself. And it's probably even harder when you're a point guard.

"I think its harder because you not only have to know your game, you have to know everybody else on your team's game," said Celtics Coach Doc Rivers, who said he never really played point guard himself until he got to the NBA.

While his high school success has been well documented - a 106-19 record in four years at Brooklyn's Abraham Lincoln, three NYC PSAL titles and a state championship -- Telfair has shown glimpses of greatness at the pro level. He played perhaps the best basketball of his young career during the last 26 games of 2004-05 season, when he averaged 11.1 points and 6.6 assists as a starter for Portland. But his second season was derailed by a December ligament sprain in his right thumb and he dropped to third on the Blazers' point guard depth chart.

Chatting with reporters after the press conference, Telfair objected to the assertion the Portland "gave up on him" and said that he felt that the team was going in a different direction. And Telfair wouldn't blame his lack of success on any of the perceived dysfunction in Portland either, which certainly speaks to some maturity. And he's definitely looking ahead to his new opportunity in Boston. He now finds himself with a chance to compete with entrenched starter Delonte West and Rajon Rondo for the starting point guard job.

"I don't know my position yet, but I'm going to work hard, and do it to the best of my abilities," said Telfair.