Boys Among Men: How the Prep-to-Pro Generation Redefined the NBA and Sparked a Basketball Revolution

Crown Archetype. Mar. 2016. 336p. ISBN 9780804139250. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780804139267. SPORTS
OrangeReviewStarKobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Kevin Garnett are among the best players in the history of the NBA (National Basketball Association); all three made the leap to professional directly from high school. Journalist Abrams (Grantland sports blog) examines this generation of prep-to-pro players, and their impact on all aspects of the sport as they face the psychological and physical challenges of competing with grown men. In addition to the superstar success stories, Abrams's work also explores cautionary tales of players who fail to make the transition, most notably Leon Smith. From detailing the astronomical rise of NBA salaries to reports of shoe manufacturers paying high school and college coaches, this account illuminates the inner workings of the industry, including the process by which young athletes are scouted and drafted. Especially intriguing are the behind-the-scenes maneuvers that ultimately led to Kobe playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. Abrams further scrutinizes the decision to increase the NBA's minimum age to 19 and questions whether there is compelling evidence for its continuation.
VERDICT Especially timely considering Kobe's recent retirement announcement, this essential, well-researched book will appeal to readers interested in basketball's business side as well as the factors that have helped shape the modern NBA.
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