Former NBA Player Sebastian Telfair To Serve Prison Sentence For Gun Possession

Former NBA player Sebastian Telfair, then of the Oklahoma City Thunder, looks on during a 2014 game.
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Sebastian Telfair, a former first-round draft pick who played 10 seasons in the NBA, was sentenced on Monday to three-and-a-half years in prison, close to three months after he was found guilty on April 24 on a charge of felony criminal possession of a weapon.

As reported by Yahoo Sports, the charge against the 34-year-old Telfair relates to a traffic stop arrest in July 2017, after he allegedly drove away with his headlights turned off when police found his car parked illegally. During their search, police were able to find multiple firearms, including three handguns and a semiautomatic rifle, as well as a bullet-proof vest, ammunition, and some marijuana in the former NBA point guard’s vehicle.

“This defendant exercised his right to a jury trial and was found guilty of possessing an illegal firearm,” read a statement from Brooklyn district attorney Eric Gonzalez, as quoted by Sports Illustrated. “The mandatory prison sentence he received today is required by law and he has now been held accountable for the unlawful conduct.”

Monday’s decision marked the second time that Telfair ran afoul of the law due to gun-related charges. In 2007, he pleaded guilty to a gun possession charge after officers pulled him over for speeding and found a loaded handgun in his car. Aside from receiving a three-game suspension from the NBA, Telfair was also sentenced to three years probation in relation to these charges.

Telfair chose to plead not guilty to the more recent weapon charges, but as Yahoo Sports further pointed out, he was originally facing a sentence of up to 15 years.

A high school phenom in his hometown of Brooklyn, Sebastian Telfair opted to skip college and entered the 2004 NBA Draft, where he was picked 13th overall by the Portland Trail Blazers. Despite his impressive credentials, Telfair was unable to live up to his advance billing, as he played for eight teams in 10 seasons, averaging 7.4 points and 3.5 assists and shooting just 39 percent from the field in his career, per Basketball-Reference.

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Telfair’s best statistical season came in 2007-08, when he started 51 out of 60 games at point guard for the Minnesota Timberwolves, compiling averages of 9.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game.

In a report from OregonLive that looked back on Telfair’s NBA career, John Canzano wrote on Monday that the troubled point guard “never really arrived” in the league. He added that per multiple anonymous Trail Blazers teammates, he was the type of player that didn’t listen to older colleagues who tried to mentor him as a young, up-and-coming NBA player.

“[To] be clear, Telfair didn’t listen to coaches, or more experienced NBA players, who were dealing with a lot of the same pressures,” Canzano wrote.