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Jump: Sebastian Telfair and the High-Stakes Business of High School Ball

Jump: Sebastian Telfair and the High-Stakes Business of High School Ball

4.6 3
by Ian O'Connor

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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


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."

Product Details

Rodale Press, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.88(w) x 9.82(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet 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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Jump: Sebastian Telfair and the High Stakes Business of High School Ball 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Telefair is preety good
Gkeys More than 1 year ago
For any young sports fan, The Jump is a must read because it takes you deep into the life of a young hoop star who is surrounded by poverty, press, drugs and life changing decisions. Ian O' Connor goes into the life of Sebastian Telfair, a 6 foot point guard who made the leap from high school to the NBA. Some of the greats such as Lebron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett have done so and been successful. Straight out of Brooklyn's Lincoln High School Telfair made the decision to skip out on college experience and sign a multimillion dollar deal with the Portland Trailblazers. A major message that came to my mind when reading was that if you love something, put everything you have into it so you can reach your potential. All 100% has to be fully dedicated to whatever it is you want to accomplish, and Sebastian is a prime example of just that. Not only did Telfair have his heart into it but so did the people around him, the sacrifices his mother made just so Sebastian could have new basketball shoes and play in certain tournaments was mind blowing. One thing I enjoyed while reading was the "rawness" of the book, Ian O' Connor wasn't afraid to jump into the negative aspects of Telfair's life, and the struggles he had to overcome. At times the book seemed to drag on however, and unnecessary information about teammate's life could sometimes get boring. Any sports fan should read this because it gives hope to athletes who may not have enough financially or meet the stereotypical heights for sports. This book is about a talented ball player from Brooklyn who makes the jump from poverty to million dollar shoe deals. Once again it shows that anyone can make it to the top if there mind as well as heart is dedicated. When Sebastian made it, it wasn't just for himself; it was for his whole family. Other recommended works by O' Connor would be, Arnie and Jack: Palmer, Nicklaus and Golf's greatest Rivals. Overall I would rate this book 4 out of 5 stars, because O' Connor kept you turning the page to experience the journey of young Sebastian Telfair.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was one of the greatest books i have ever read. It gives you a good look at the high school sports world as well as well as the business side of things. Sebastian Telfair was one of the best players to ever coem out of New York and while doign that he managed to do everything he needed to do in the business world.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was awesome. It really tells you about what goes down during a high school basketball season.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A good book that shows in sight on a lot of things. First thing is Telfair's life as well as his familly member's life. It talks about his realationship with his cousin, stephon maurbury. iT also shows some insights on how athlete's choose endorsement deals and how high school ballers who are low class choose beetween whats right and a lot of money.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sebastian Telfair is a hard working young man from the Bronx. Most to all of his family has tried to make a living out of basketball. The only success so far was his cousin, Stephon Marbury. Sebastian had some big shoes to fill. He filled them well. He took the ball and ran with it. He had a great attitude towards life. Although he was from the slum part of New York, he stayed away from drugs, partying, etc. The New York people respected him and his decision and watched him on his way to glory. This is a great book if you like basketball. I would recommend this book to anyone that wants a good fast read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although there was a lot of good insight into the competitive nature of high school basketball and the fine lines coaches (high school, college, and summer league), agents, shoe companies, and NBA teams walk along year-round with summer teams, summer camps, and high school teams, I felt like the writing was choppy and sometimes confusing. Granted, there were a lot of characters involved, but too many times I got lost trying to figure out who was being talked about. I agree that more needs to be written and learned about high school/summer basketball, but this book just had too many story lines and needed a sharper focus.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For anyone interested in basketball and in discovering how much power shoe companies wield, read this book! This book is not just about Sebastian Telfair, though Telfair fans will love this book about his life. It uses Tefair's life as the backdrop for a story about the High Stakes Business of High School Basketball, shoe companies, AAU teams and the NBA. I'm a big Telfair fan but I enjoyed this book all the more because it discusses the ins and outs of what these kids go through. A terrific book that needed to be written!