Saturday, October 21
This probably wasn't what the Boston Celtics envisioned when their scouting reports identified Sebastian Telfair as being an above-average shooter.

New York City police have told the Associated Press that they are investigating Telfair in connection with the Monday night shooting of rapper Fabolous outside of the Big Apple club Justin's, which is owned by another rapper, Sean "Diddy" Combs. Witnesses claim that a member of the shot rapper's entourage stole a $50,000 gold chain from Telfair's neck during an altercation, and that the point guard was then seen making a cell phone call which may or may not have pertained to the subsequent shooting.

Despite the fact that Telfair has fully cooperated with the investigation - the AP story has him spending portions of Tuesday with the NYPD, viewing four different lineups of potential suspects including Fabolous himself - the incident has brought back some bad memories for the Celtics and their fans. Who could forget the horrible incident in 2000 when now-team captain Paul Pierce was repeatedly stabbed in a Boston nightclub by three assailants connected to another hip hop act, Made Men? Pierce's life was quite possibly saved that night, according to reports, by his leather jacket. But the incident brought with it a fear that took some time to dissipate among fans of the team.

Did the Celtics make an error in judgment in drafting Pierce? Was he another player in the vein of Allen Iverson, able to use his superior skills to rise above the crowd on the court while running with the entirely wrong one off of it?

The answer in Pierce's case proved to be a resounding "no." No. 34 has proved to be nothing short of an ideal role model (Charles Barkley be damned) during his tenure with the Celtics, a true team leader with an exemplary level of involvement in local charity and volunteer work. Iverson, meanwhile, still sports the spandex sleeve on his arm to obscure his "Cru Thik" gang tattoo even as his publicized run-ins with law enforcement have tapered off. But the feeling of unease has now returned to the air around the Celtics, first with guard Tony Allen's 2005 arrest for aggravated battery charges for his role in a Chicago nightclub shooting and now with the Telfair incident.

So the question is, should C's fans brace for a pattern of such behavior from the team's new celebrity point man? Telfair's notoriety as a fixture on the NYC social scene shouldn't in and of itself be a red flag to fans, but it's worth noting that the guard had a previous situation unfold in which he "inadvertently" carried a loaded gun onto a team plane while playing with the Portland Trail Blazers. Running with the wrong crowds is something many professional athletes are accused of; it's the ones who pack their own heat while doing it that make fans especially wary.

It must be noted that Telfair has not been charged with any crime in the Fabolous shooting, nor was he following the plane incident (which happened to occur at Boston's Logan Airport). Fabolous himself was arrested, along with several of his posse members, after police found a cache of loaded firearms in an S.U.V. connected to them. So it's entirely possible that Telfair was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, the victim of a crime and not a criminal, and that his subsequent phone call was to verify the value of the chain with his insurance company.

All Celtic fans can do now is hope, even pray, that Telfair will follow Pierce's example and render this unfortunate situation a footnote to a career of exemplary behavior on and off the court. So consider this an open plea to the celebrity floor general: Any more shooting should be done with that nifty redesigned NBA game ball; any further lineups you study will hopefully be comprised of five opposing players.

There was a lot of talk this offseason of the Celtics making a run at acquiring Allen Iverson. Here's hoping the team didn't go out and trade for a junior wannabe version instead.


Adam White is a Banner sports columnist. He can be reached at awhite@benningtonbanner.com. Information from the Associated Press was used in this column.