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The Jump: Sebastian Telfair and the High-Stakes Business of High School Ballby Ian O'Connor
Synopses & Reviews
On NBA draft night, June 24, 2004, high school senior Sebastian Telfair awaited his future inside a suite at the Trump International Hotel. One of the most hyped high school players of all time, with a $20 million Adidas deal in hand, Sebastian found himself in the same position as NBA superstars like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, both of whom shot to stardom without playing a day of college ball. THE JUMP offers an inside view of Sebastian's journey-a rags-to-riches story of a kid from the Coney Island projects who succeeds in leaving behind the chaos, violence and economic hardship at home for a multi-million dollar life of professional ball and product endorsement. Drawing on exclusive interviews with friends, family, coaches, recruiters, agents and players, USA Today columnist Ian O'Connor offers an intimate portrait of the promising young player's senior year at Lincoln High School and explores the changing nature of basketball in America today.
Sebastian Telfair exemplifies a new dynamic emerging in basketball-young, talented teenagers who skip college on the way to NBA fortune and fame. But what is this trend doing to the sport? And do the adults who have hitched their hopes on Sebastian's rising star have the young player's best interests in mind? THE JUMP dives head first into today's high-stakes, anything-goes basketball culture, examining the sneaker companies intent on securing charismatic and mediagenic players to hawk their wares; college boosters willing to break NCAA rules by offering cash incentives to lure promising players to their schools; high school administrators securing big appearance fees from promoters; agents wooing players and their families-and walking the thin line dictating amateur status rules for high school and college ball.
O'Connor also delves into the dream that the NBA holds for so many families-a child drafted into the pros offers a first class ticket out of the projects. A colorful cast of characters featured in THE JUMP includes the faces shaping the sport today: Rick Pitino, head coach of the University of Louisville, who recruits Sebastian with the hope of delivering his team to an NCAA championship only to see his dreams dashed by Sebastian's decision to enter the NBA draft; Andy Miller, the agent who vies to sign up Sebastian despite Erica and Otis Telfair's reservations; Stephon Marbury, star of the New York Knicks, who sees Sebastian more as a rival than a cousin (THE JUMP delivers exclusive details on the fracture in the Marbury and Telfair relationship, including interviews with the point guards and relatives on the subject of the family feud); Sonny Vacaro, at different times the face of Nike, Adidas, and Reebok, who uses sneaker company cash to entice coaches and young players; Jay-Z, rapper and owner of Telfair's summer-league team.
Under O'Connor's penetrating scrutiny, Sebastian Telfair becomes the prism through which the circus of modern basketball is explored. Can he succeed, or will he flame out-too young, too small, too unprepared? And what is this new trend in basketball doing to the athletes, to college basketball programs, to the quality of play in the NBA and to society at large? As Dave Kindred of The Sporting News states, “THE JUMP is a 21st-century thrill ride into the shadows and bright lights of a basketball culture that breaks hearts and makes superstars.”
"The Jump is a 21st-century thrill ride into the shadows and bright lights of a basketball culture that breaks hearts and makes superstars." Dave Kindred, The Sporting News
"One phenom (Ian O'Connor) writing about another (Sebastian Telfair). You want to know why hoops is no longer about the hoop? Read this book. You want to know how America lost the patent on the very game Americans invented? Read this book. You want to accompany one of America's premier sports columnists on a journey into the dark belly of one of its premier games, as seen through the jaded eyes of one of its premier players? Take this trip." Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times, ESPN's "Around the Horn"
"It's all here. I'm talking about everything you knew, or suspected, about how far from the good old rah-rah-sis-boom-bah high school days of yore we have come when the young man in question is first identified as Somebody Special at the age of 10. Warning: Ian O'Connor's story is so rich in detail, you had better commit yourself in advance to reading it twice." Bob Ryan, The Boston Globe, ESPN
"A must-read for anyone who cares about basketball, about sports, or about young athletes trying to come of age." John Feinstein, The Washington Post, author of A Season on the Brink and Let Me Tell You a Story: A Lifetime in the Game
One of America's great sports writers follows high school point guard phenom Sebastian Telfair on his quest for NBA stardom — and exposes all that big-time sports in America has become, the good and the bad.
Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James — all became NBA superstars without playing a day of college ball. Now Coney Island's Sebastian Telfair, anointed "the next LeBron James" by the media, is hoping to become the first point guard ever to jump straight from high school to the NBA.
Author Ian O'Connor, who followed every moment of Telfair's senior year at Lincoln High, draws on dozens of exclusive interviews with friends, family members, coaches, recruiters, agents, and players, including LeBron James and Telfair's cousin Stephon Marbury. Under O'Connor's penetrating scrutiny, Telfair, who has already been handed a 6-year sneaker deal from Adidas reported to be worth as much as $15 million, becomes the prism through which the circus of modern basketball is explored.
Can he succeed, or will he flame out — too young, too small, too unprepared? What is the trend toward ever-younger players jumping to the NBA doing to the athletes, to college basketball programs, to the quality of play in the NBA, and to the society at large?
One of America's great sports writers follows high school point guard phenom Sebastian Telfair on his quest for NBA stardom and exposes all that big-time sports in America has become, the good and the bad.
About the Author
Ian O'Connor is a sports columnist for USA Today and The Journal News of New York. He has won numerous national writing honors, including the Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. O'Connor lives in New Jersey with his wife, Tracey, and son, Kyle.
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