id he tell you about the best-dressed contest the team has before every game?" asks the friend making smoothies in Sebastian Telfair's apartment. "He started it."
Most sports fans know 21-year-old Telfair as the Celtic's diminutive (by basketball standards) point guard, but his teammates also know him as the resident fashion plate, a man who spends his spare time modeling for a Japanese clothing company that recently opened in New York -- and enjoying it. When a reporter arrives at his apartment to check out Telfair's fashion acumen, he casually strolls out of the bedroom modeling a custom-made Joseph Abboud suit. The NBA instituted a dress code last year that requires players to wear business casual attire when they are "engaged in league business." Talk to Telfair for a few minutes, and you get the feeling that dress code or no, he would still be knotting a tie before every game.
"This suit was one that was made for me," he explains. "[Tailors from Joseph Abboud] measured me at the practice facility. I picked out the fabric. This suit has my name on the inside."
Other teammates wear custom-made suits because they are too tall for off-the-rack. At 6 feet, Telfair could buy off-the-rack, but says custom-made suits are like a second skin. He also has an eye for accessories. He hoists up his sleeve to show his six-time-zone IceLink watch with crocodile leather straps and 28 carats of diamonds.
He grew up in Brooklyn admiring top designers, but didn't have the means to buy their wares. Those prospects began to change when Telfair became an early candidate for the 2004 NBA draft as a senior at Abraham Lincoln High School. His story became the focus of a documentary ("Through the Fire") and a book ("Sebastian Telfair and the High Stakes Business of High School Ball"). His life is basketball, his fiancee, and his daughter, but he confesses that whenever he has a few spare minutes, he's usually shopping at Copley Place or checking out Newbury Street. After the suit, his next ensemble is head-to-toe Louis Vuitton. Is he just doing this for the camera?
"No really, this is what I wear," he says slyly. A Celtics spokeswoman confirms that when she sees Telfair leaving practice, he is always incredibly well-dressed. It's perhaps the one time his size gives him an advantage over his teammates.
"Those guys would love to wear these designers," he says. "But if you're 6'8", you're not getting into a Louis Vuitton shirt."