Sebastian Telfair ‘bitter' about leaving Suns, Phoenix
He took his two kids to school Tuesday morning.
Later, he drove to US Airways Center for practice, something he had done for the last year-and-a-half. This time, however, it was different. He was not heading to practice with the Suns. He was heading to practice with the Toronto Raptors, in town to play Telfair's now former team Wednesday night.
"They knew I didn't want to be traded so I guess they didn't want me," he said of the Suns' decision to ship him to Toronto in exchange for Hamed Haddadi and a protected second round draft pick prior to the trade deadline on February 21.
Telfair had bounced around the NBA -- playing for five different teams, before he landed in Phoenix, signing with the Suns after the lockout ended in 2011.
"I had some good times here," he said after putting in some extra work with one of the Raptors assistant coaches. "I learned a lot as a player. I think I grew as a person from being around the organization. My family loves it here. I wish I still had the opportunity to still be here."
The opportunity ended not long after Alvin Gentry, a fan and strong supporter of Telfair, was fired as head coach.
The decision to dismiss Gentry and to go with Lindsey Hunter signaled a new direction.
Soon later, another decision was made: to play rookie Kendall Marshall at backup point guard, sending Telfair to the bench.
"It sucks for me," Telfair said of how it felt to be traded. "I feel like I've done everything they asked me to do. I've been professional. I just don't see how with all the guys on the team we have and the way the season went, how does making the Suns better by trading me right now. I understand Kendall had to get an opportunity to play but (expletive) this is a man's league. You've got to be able to just compete. You've got to be able to be competitive with your teammates and other guys. I think I brought that to the table and I was cheated out of that."
Despite losing his job and the mounting losses the team was enduring, Telfair not once considered or even asked to be traded. He wanted to stay on even as he was racking up one 'DNP-Coach's Decision' after another.
"I think I proved myself at the end of the season last year where I could be a guy that could be trusted to be out there on the floor and then they go draft Kendall," he said. "I guess I was the last one to know. I should've been packing my bags already last year instead of coming back and doing what we did."
The disappointment in Telfair's voice is telling.
"I'm bitter," he said. "I'm a little bitter. I don't have nothing personal against (my former teammates), love them guys but I'm bitter. I'm a little bitter. For one, I got to pick up and leave my family, my kids. Forget the business part of it, I've got to leave my kids home, by themselves now and I'm all the way in Toronto so (expletive) yeah, I'm bitter.
"It sucks for me to be bitter because I got to understand somebody going to get the short end of the stick. Wesley Johnson was sitting on the bench the entire season. He was getting the short end of the stick now he's out there on the floor. It just happens. My guy Shannon Brown, I watched him develop as a player these last two years, do everything they asked him to do, worked extremely hard and now he can't even get on the floor.
"I think last year we competed a lot better. I understand they're going in a new direction, but I wished we would've known that this summer. I really can't understand it. I'm not mad at nobody, but I don't understand it."
Telfair, who described his seventh and latest NBA stop as "really different", will be back in familiar surroundings Wednesday, in front of the fans that voted him the Majerle Hustle Award last season.
Whether he will play, however, is another story. Telfair has made only one appearance since the trade went down -- a seven-minute stint in a loss to Cleveland February 27.
"I want to be utilized," he said. "I put a lot of work into myself. I feel I should be on the court.
"Other than that," he added with a laugh, "everything is great."
Craig Grialou, Reporter
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