Writer’s Book On Telfair Is Soiling A Good Basketball Program

By Gregory Moore
Updated: February 11, 2005
Sebastian Telfair says that a Ga. Tech booster offered him $250,000 in an upcoming book but he never talked to Tech’s head coach Paul Hewitt or anyone with the program

SAN ANTONIO – Sebastian Telfair shouldn’t be shocked that his name has popped up in a book about his life. Nobody from the New York area should be shocked that a controversy about whether he was offered $250,000 by an interested party who is said to have represented Georgia Tech. After all here is a young man who has believed his own press and what his ‘peoples’ have fed him on just how good he was prior to the NBA draft. Yet nobody should be surprised that Georgia Tech’s head coach, Paul Hewitt, defended his school and his program saying that such a gesture didn’t exist. But this just one more sordid tale for the New York ballplayer. The problem lies in the fact that this book and this one reference of money being offered has soiled a program that is doing everything right and in this writer’s opinion, which is just wrong.

Ian O’Conner’s book, “The Jump: Sebastian Telfair and the High Stakes Business of High School Ball” is supposed to be a story about how a young man makes the jump from having nothing, to having $600,000 in his pocket from Adidas, and now has a nice little paycheck because he was the thirteenth pick in last year’s NBA draft. Somewhere between all of that O’Conner has dropped the story into his book of a white man who had ties to Georgia Tech, offered the Brooklyn, New York native $250,000 to play for the school. How true is the story? Depends on whom you listen to. Would I believe Telfair? I don’t believe anything he says because he has been so inconsistent so far on this issue. Would I believe O’Conner? I seriously doubt that I would. However I will believe Coach Hewitt because I have some foundation in believing his words. I have a foundation of belief from him because of what I heard last March/April when his team made it to the Final Four last year that was held right in my backyard.

Hewitt’s denial on Sporting News Radio’s “Tim Brando Show” only solidifies my belief of what he said on this issue because Hewitt is very much about education. Let me give you a taste of what Coach Hewitt was about last April after his team lost to eventual champion Connecticut when it came to what was next for his team.

“Right now I’m more concerned about my group of freshmen, sophomore and juniors who have missed several days of class. My main focus is to make sure that they are back in class and back on track.” Now does that sound like someone who would want to jeopardize a program in the ACC? Not in my opinion. What also impressed me last year with Coach Hewitt was the fact that when it came to talking about his kids and their success, he was adamant about having young men who were about education and in furthering the program. Now does that mean that he would get a player who could make the leap to the NBA after his one year at Tech? He had that with Chris Bosh and Bosh is doing well in the league right now averaging almost 16 ppg while Telfair is almost at 5 ppg. O’Conner wants to profile Telfair in this book of his and as a new writer of fiction, I can understand that. I say fiction because this story has every bit the realism of what most of America thinks about poor Black players who are in dire need of money and here’s a rich white guy trying to help him get an education by bribery. It set off red flags a lot of people who don’t like the inference.

The biggest issue that I have this whole issue is the fact that here are folks who are giving this kid was able to get a fat paycheck from a shoe company and the kid couldn’t shoot his way out of a paper bag is beyond me. O’Conner’s book is glorifying a player in a situation where many believe is the normal practice in the Black community when it comes to sports. I’m going to take the stance that Coach Hewitt took when it comes to education and the opportunities that are out there for these young men. For every Sebastian Telfair there are hundreds of young men who are getting their degrees and are out making money real money with real jobs.

Do I think O’Conner is another Jayson Blair? Of course not. I think he is probably outstanding writer. Will I read the book? Probably will. But for this writer to allow Telfair to prance around and bash a good program when Telfair isn’t even worth the draft position that he was chosen. And that is the total injustice of the whole deal because here is a book written on a kid who I will guarantee will not be in the league in five to ten years.

The sporting world deserves better during such a tremendous time and this book is something that taints college basketball more than ever.