Boys Among Men: How the Prep-to-Pro Generation Redefined the NBA and Sparked a Basketball Revolution by Jonathan Abrams
The debate rages on today concerning whether or not high school players should be able to jump to the NBA without going to college. Yet, as Jonathan Abrams shows in his new book, Boys Among Men, that trend has sparked a revolution in the NBA, not just important for players, but also GM’s, coaches, and recruits. The likes of Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Tyson Chandler and Lebron James are only a few of the remarkable players who made the leap to the NBA straight out of high school.
As a fan of basketball, my dad and I were able to see Kevin Garnett play in a high school matchup in St. Louis for Farragut Academy. We were amazed by his athletic ability and smooth shot. Abrams recounts the rough road that Garnett took to make it to the league in his book. From a skinny kid without the SAT or ACT score to make it to college, Kevin’s road was tumultuous. On seeing Garnett tryout, Isaiah Thomas phoned Kevin McHale and said, “He would be the perfect guy for you and he’s the perfect guy for me (31).” The long road didn’t end with the draft for Garnett, he gasped for oxygen in training camp but “Garnett simply wanted to play basketball, maintaining the mentality of the kid shooting every hour of the day at Springfield Park (37).”
Another interesting aspect of the book was the part on Tyson Chandler. Abrams looks at his coming to the Wizards and being coached by the newly minted part owner of the Wizards, Michael Jordan. Abrams writes, “Players faced unrelenting pressure to perform and impress. Few high schoolers were as uniquely prepped for the scrutiny as Tyson Chandler, an elastic and scrawny post player from California (165).” What Chandler did not quite consider was that he would not be the first pick in the draft nor would Eddie Curry, but that Kwame Brown would rise to the top. Yet, through all of Kwame Brown’s injury history and journeyman history in the league, Chandler had kind words for Brown, for his ability to become a defensive wall in later half of his years in the league.
Abrams does a great job at chronicling the road from high school to the top for these NBA players. If you’re at all interested in the NBA and what it takes to get there, from a player and team perspective, you will enjoy this book.
Thanks to Blogging for Books for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.