Friday, October 20, 2006

Hip-Hop and Hoops Collide?

I hope by now you've heard about the brewing Fabolous-Sebastian Telfair story. If not, you can get caught up here. The basics are as follows:

- The rapper Fabolous (he was hot for about a minute in 2001 when his song "Young'n [Holla Back]" was burning up the airwaves) was shot in the leg in the parking garage of Diddy's restaurant Justin's the other night.

- The Boston Celtics' Sebastian Telfair had a $50 thousand chain ripped off of his neck outside the restaurant by two "fearless cat burglars" (as Kramer said in the Kenny Rogers Roaster episode of Seinfeld). Stephan Marbury (Telfair's cousin) is quoted in the Boston Herald as saying that Telfair had a gun held to him in the process.

- It seems certain (as in, there is video evidence) that the theives were two members of Fabolous' posse, known as "The Street Family."

- Shortly after the robbery, Telfair whipped out his cell phone and made a call.

- Approximately two hours after that, F-a-b-o was taking a bullet in the thigh down in the parking garage. Note: the police don't think Fabolous was the intended target, which would lead one to conclude that perhaps the thieving members of his crew were the guys that the (apparently unskilled) shooter was gunning for.

- The shooter was recorded driving away from the scene of the crime (that pesky video camera again).

- The Brooklyn rapper and his crew gave chase, but while in pursuit of the shooter, they were pulled over by the police, cited for having unregistered weapons in the car, and hauled off to jail via the hospital. Talk about adding insult to injury.

Obviously, this could all be a coincidence. The New York Daily News reported that Telfair was very cooperative and gladly handed over his phone to the authorities. He claims he had nothing to do with it and that his phone call was to a family member, and Boston coach Doc Rivers quickly came to the defense of his player (even if said defense was just as confusing as his coaching moves tend to be).

However, it seems that these dots connected for the NYPD. Guy gets chain snatched. Guy calls his boys (and I'm sorry, but I don't see how calling a "family member" precludes anything). Boys come and shoot chain snatcher, or at least, try to. That's not a hard narrative to piece together. As of now, the Celtics seem to believe that the case is closed as far as they are concerned and Telfair has been quoted as saying that his part of the investigation is over. We shall see.

A few other notes:

1. I find it kind of amusing that the Daily News treated Telfair's willingness to turn over his cell phone as some sort of an indication that he was free and clear. I hate to be the one to break it to their ace reporters, but you can delete the record of a call from a cell phone in about 1.5 seconds. I'm sure the cops won't even bother to look at it. They will go straight to the service provider and get the records of all calls that way. Then they will get the records of that person's calls until they are satisfied that no "hit" was called in. I wonder if Telfair knows that is how it works?

2. This is probably a rude thing to say about an incident that resulted in a guy being shot, but don't rule out "publicity stunt" from the equation. Rivers is calling Telfair an innocent bystander, guilty of nothing but going out to dinner. That may be true, but he's not exactly a random piece of the puzzle. His jewelry was stolen by two men seen hanging out with the guy who got shot a few hours after the incident. That said, it really is possible that Telfair is totally innocent. Rappers are notorious for trying to boost street cred (at any time) and trying to get publicity (before an album drops). Stealing a chain from a New York City product basketball player may have seemed like a genius idea to these knuckleheads - a sure way to get some street cred. Even the owner of the restaurant (Diddy) comes into play because his album Press Play hit stores later that same day. Think the robbery of an NBA's players' ice at his restaurant didn't generate any buzz? All I am saying is that just because there was a robbery and a shooting within hours of each other, it doesn't mean that Telfair is the link. Of course, it doesn't rule it out either.

3. The fact that this happened in New York had to play a role in the cops' suspicion of Telfair. This is where he grew up and if you've seen the ESPN documentary Through The Fire, you know that there are dozens of acolytes who would do worse than shoot a guy in the leg if Bassie wanted them to. They might even be investigating whether Telfair called a buddy or lackey to complain or even request that they "get it back" (without specifics) and they took things WAY further than he expected. The possibilities are endless. But the fact that the incident happened in his own backyard - and not in Boston or any other NBA city - only makes things seem worse.

Anyway, stay tuned for the rest of this fascinating story. People are always saying that the NBA and rap music go hand in hand, but this is taking things to a new level. First Ron Artest releases a woeful album and now this? What a week!

Meanwhile, hundreds of Celtics fans and Rajon Rondo fantasy owners are holding their breath and wondering if it makes them bad people to hope Telfair goes to prison so that the former Kentucky star can take over as the C's point guard.

(The answer is yes, by the way. That makes you a horrible person.)

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