Monday, June 27, 2016

Boys Among Men: How the Prep-To-Pro Generation Redefined the NBA and Sparked a Basketball Revolution by Jonathan Abrams

"Moses Malone’s leap from high school did not immediately change professional basketball’s landscape. In a hierarchy of natural progression, players starred in high school and made their names in college before graduating to the pros. Darryl Dawkins and Bill Willoughby jumped to the NBA from high school a year after Malone’s decision. Malone joined the NBA in 1976, when the league absorbed much of the ABA, and carved out a Hall of Fame career. But Dawkins and Willoughby provided cautionary tales for different reasons as to why teenagers, both physically and mentally, were not prepared for the NBA’s rigors.

"That thought persisted until a lanky teenager named Kevin Garnett reopened the dormant door in 1995. The game had been transformed by the time of Garnett’s arrival. Players commanded millions in salary, a large jump from $130,000—the average salary of an NBA player in 1976. Malone’s decision ultimately birthed the route into the NBA for one of the game’s greatest group of players, from Garnett to Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, LeBron James, and Dwight Howard. They grew into stardom, while quickly advancing from their proms to playing against grown men whose paychecks accounted for how they fed their families."

Over the past two decades, some of these players succeeded. Others who chose this path managed to carve out lengthy but not especially noteworthy careers, while a few became synonymous with the word bust. Jonathan Abrams' Boys Among Men: How the Prep-To-Pro Generation Redefined the NBA and Sparked a Basketball Revolution takes a close look at the sometimes triumphant, sometimes sketchy, and sometimes tragic stories of players and their varying experiences. Based on interviews with players, coaches, agents, scouts, front office personnel, and others close the the game, Abrams gives fans a close up look at the prep-to-pro players and the behind the scenes maneuvering that surrounded them during the decade-plus, 1995 to 2006, that changed the NBA.

As someone who is not much of a basketball fan and is picky about the sports books I read, I have to say, this book was fascinating. Abrams, who previously wrote for newspapers and the late, great Grantland--a stint that also gave us the definitive oral history of the Malice at the Palace--here profiles a group of phenomenal athletes. But he never loses sight of the fact that in spite of their abilities, these young men were still all too human.

Book Info
Boys Among Men: How the Prep-To-Pro Generation Redefined the NBA and Sparked a Basketball Revolution by Jonathan Abrams
Adult Nonfiction
Published 2016 by Random House
Hardcover ISBN: 9780804139250


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