LeBron's Dream Team: How Five Friends Made History [NOOK Book]

Overview

Read an interview with Buzz Bissinger at hoopsaddict.com here.



The SHOOTING STARS were a bunch of kids from Akron, Ohio-LeBron James and his best friends-who first met on a youth basketball team of the same name when they were ten and eleven years old. United by their love of the game and their yearning ...
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LeBron's Dream Team: How Five Friends Made History

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Overview

Read an interview with Buzz Bissinger at hoopsaddict.com here.



The SHOOTING STARS were a bunch of kids from Akron, Ohio-LeBron James and his best friends-who first met on a youth basketball team of the same name when they were ten and eleven years old. United by their love of the game and their yearning for companionship, they quickly forged a bond which would carry them through thick and thin (a lot of thin) and, at last, to the brink of a national championship.

They were a motley group who faced challenges all too typical of inner-city America. LeBron grew up without a father and had moved with his mother more than a dozen times by the age of 10. Willie McGee, the quiet one, had left both his parents behind in Chicago to be raised by his older brother in Akron. Dru Joyce was outspoken, and his dad, who was ever-present, would end up coaching all five of the boys in high school. Sian Cotton, who also played football, was the happy-go-lucky enforcer, while Romeo Travis was unhappy, bitter, even surly, until he finally opened himself up to the bond his team mates offered.

In the summer after seventh grade, the SHOOTING STARS tasted glory when they qualified for a national championship tournament in Memphis. But they lost their focus, and had to go home early. They promised each other they would stay together and do whatever it took to win a national title.

They had no idea how hard it would be to pursue that promise. In the years that followed, they would endure jealousy, hostility, exploitation, resentment from the black community (because they went to a "white" high school), and the consequence of their own over-confidence. Not least, they would all have to wrestle with LeBron's outsize success, which brought too much attention and even a whiff of scandal their way. But together these five boys became men as they sought a national championship.


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Editorial Reviews

Dwight Garner
Shooting Stars is a measured, modest book about four kids from Akron, Ohio, James among them, who became best friends off the court and a mighty force on it. The book, mostly told in James's gentle first-person voice, follows his life and those of his three friends from their often troubled childhoods through the state and national championships they win for St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron…reads like a better-than-average young-adult novel, "Stand by Me" with breakaway dunks and long, arching three-pointers.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
James, the highest-paid athlete (including endorsement deals) in the NBA, turns to Bissinger (Friday Night Lights) to tell the story of his meteoric rise as a high school basketball player, when he and his teammates took a private school in Ohio to state and national championships. Looking back at the media circus that put him on the cover of Sports Illustrated at 17, James accuses the media of overexposing him for their own benefit. It feels like the young superstar is working out some grudges against the athletic officials who challenged his amateur status after he accepted two jerseys from a sporting goods store as a gift, along with his school for failing to take his side in the controversy, but Bissinger smoothes out the rough edges, letting very little anger show. That polish is the as-told-to memoir's biggest problem—despite stylistic flourishes like shifting to present tense to write about James's big games, his passion seems muted. James hits all the right moments, from the childhood promise he made to himself to put Akron on the map to the graduation day photo with his teammates, but it's a story readers hear rather than feel. (Sept.)
Library Journal
James may be the best basketball player in the world right now; he's definitely one of the most popular. And Bissinger's Friday Night Lights became a national sensation, spawning a movie and a successful television series. They should make for a powerful combination as they present the story of James's amazing Akron, OH, high school basketball team, which won multiple state titles and a national championship. Many readers will be interested to know the details surrounding his suspension during his senior year for accepting free "throw-back" jerseys from a local sports dealer and his mother's controversial purchase of a $50,000 Hummer. Unlike Friday Night Lights, few details of the lives of either James himself or his best friends/teammates, the "Fab Five," are given. VERDICT People will want to read this because of James's star power and the controversies he addresses. Both fans of James and of books on high school sports will find the story of the games, the players, and the coaches engaging, but they may be disappointed with matter-of-fact game descriptions that fail to build much excitement.—Todd Spires, Bradley Univ. Lib., Peoria, IL
Kirkus Reviews
NBA superstar James and Vanity Fair contributor and acclaimed sportswriter Bissinger (Three Nights in August, 2005, etc.) profile James's championship high-school basketball team. Although Bissinger's authorial stamp can be somewhat heavy at times, there's still plenty of conversational snap in James's modest but passionate first-person voice. The co-authors adequately humanize all five starting members of Ohio's St.Vincent-St. Mary Shooting Stars. Of course James is the focus here, and he provides ample biographical details about his fatherless upbringing in the Akron housing projects. James proved to be not only a gifted athlete-effortlessly excelling in both football and basketball-but also an honor-roll student. His teammates were an eccentric mixed bag, but all hailed from economically underprivileged backgrounds and ended up on scholarship at the mostly white private high school. As a result, they were often considered traitors by the black community, while never feeling wholly accepted in white society. It was James's remarkable individual play that eventually brought national attention to the team. During his senior season, he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and suddenly his team was pushed into the national spotlight-with all the attendant accolades, pressures and pitfalls. When James accepted $850 in merchandise from a local Cleveland clothing shop-in violation of an obscure and rarely enforced rule-he was temporarily suspended and then dragged into a court hearing. The inspirational heart of the book is James and his teammates' gutsy performance in the face of the tornado-like media frenzy. The co-authors dramatically re-create the minute-by-minute highlights of keygames in St.V's national-championship drive, but they also interject some serious social commentary on the vindictiveness, greed and exploitation that can infect the seemingly pristine world of amateur sports. A simple but moving story about the double-edged sword of precocious athletic talent and the redemptive power of teamwork. Launch events in New York and Cleveland. Agent: Mort Janklow/Janklow & Nesbit
The Barnes & Noble Review
A while back, a pair of YouTube videos made it viral in Cleveland, where I live. These "Hastily Made Cleveland Tourism" videos spoof earnest attempts to attract visitors. Featuring a shot of a steel mill and a shot of the sky, for example, they trumpet Cleveland as "the place where there used to be industry" and where you can "see the sun almost three times a year." The clip that cuts deepest is a shot of a giant "We Are All Witnesses" billboard featuring LeBron James, arms outstretched, head back, claiming dominion. The voice-over quips, "Our economy is based on LeBron James."

When James's team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, plays a home game, millions of much-needed dollars are pumped into the city. James has lived in this area all of his 25 years. He grew up in nearby Akron, and since childhood, he tells us in his memoir, Shooting Stars, he has loved the area, for it meant "people taking care of things, people taking care of each other, people who found you and protected you." He promised himself, "I was going to let the world know where Akron was."

He succeeded, and Shooting Stars is the story of how he did so. The Shooting Stars were a basketball team James played on in middle school. His teammates were his best friends, and together they all enrolled in St. Vincent-St. Mary. As the starting squad for this Catholic high school's team, they named themselves the Fab Five (after the 1991 University of Michigan team).

James is generally known as a good guy in the often morally murky world of professional athletics. He has never been arrested or suspected of drug use, and is known as a team player who unselfishly passes the ball. Shooting Stars, which could be seen as another self-indulgent plea for attention and money by an über-celebrity, is consonant with the Jamesian ethos of taking care of your own, staying close to your roots, and putting Akron (and Cleveland) on the map.

The book has two authors, though, and on the cover an ampersand connects LeBron James with Buzz Bissinger, best known for writing one of the most acclaimed sports books in recent years, Friday Night Lights. Bissinger is also a contributing writer for Vanity Fair.

The prospect of a Friday Night Lights (or Hoop Dreams) story about James's schoolyard friends -- Little Dru, Willie, Sian, and Romeo, all African American, all from modest backgrounds -- none of whom have come close to James in terms of success, is bound to make any fan of narrative sportswriting excited. But Shooting Stars is no Hoop Dreams, nor does it rival the most memorable sports autobiographies, such as Muhammad Ali's The Greatest. For all its interest, it is plagued by the fact that Bissinger and James have made a terrible decision: to tell the story in the first person -- and Bissinger does not fade into the background enough to make this work.

Here are the first lines of the Prologue: "I am a sophomore at St. Vincent-St. Mary, a coed Catholic high school on North Maple Street overlooking the small cluster of downtown Akron. It has fine academics, and it's about three miles from where I live, with my mother on the sixth floor of a brooding apartment building rising up like a slab of stone on the crest of a small hill." Brooding buildings and crests of hills? A manufactured present tense? We know from the start this book is not written by LeBron James.

To his credit, Bissinger did serious research. (One has to infer this, because he does not speak directly anywhere in the book, not even in the acknowledgements.) He (or someone else) has meticulously gathered the backgrounds of the players and their families, interviewed them about their feelings during the years they shared on the court with James, and read the most local newspapers for game statistics. But these facts are then rendered into James's voice, creating an impossible narration, as when James tells us about how many days Willie missed of first grade: "[I]t was Willie, as the oldest at six or seven, who changed his niece and nephew and youngest brother's diapers. He warmed up their bottles, and he fed them and made sure they burped and put them to sleep...He took his responsibilities with seriousness and purpose despite being so young. But he was missing school, close to forty days at Bethune Elementary one year." (In fact, James did not meet Willie until years later).

Much of the book is devoted to play-by-play. We get game recaps from when the boys were ten. We learn that, in a freshman playoff, Little Dru's "third three-point attempt came with 5:24 left in the second quarter." These painstaking re-creations of distant games are both absurd and touching. In the first half, the book lives up to its title, keeping its focus on James's teammates and the people around them. We meet Illya McGee, Willie's big brother, who was a student at the University of Akron when Wilile's life in Chicago became untenable; Illya took his brother in and raised him until Willie graduated high school. And Keith Damrot, the Shooting Stars' first high school coach, who landed at St. Vincent's after he lost a college coaching post for using a racial epithet. After the Fab Five brought national attention to St. Vincent's in James's first year, Damrot left the school for a new college job.

These and other stories are, unfortunately, filtered through James's voice (or faux voice), compounding the very problem the book seeks to redress -- that James gets, and always has gotten, all the attention. One itches for quotes from McGee, Damrot, or Little Dru, the feisty, talented (yet too-short) brains of the squad.

By the second half of the book, James's own success takes over: he gets on the cover of Sports Illustrated, buys a Hummer, is suspended because of a scandal involving free shirts: "This was a one-man posse's attempt to humiliate me, subject me to ridicule, rip open rumors that I was corrupt, and ruin a dream." James's anger here contrasts with his refusal to delve into personal issues. Of "the crazy quilt of moves there and moves here growing up" as a young child, and the nights when he did not know whether his mother would return, James notes: "Whoever wants to keep track of something like that? All it does is cause you pain and memories you would rather forget."

Whether or not he stays a Cavalier, James has kept his promises to his friends in Akron, but he has not stopped being the figure through which they are seen. If only we could turn this book inside out; if only Bissinger allowed the Shooting Stars to speak for themselves. --Anne Trubek

Anne Trubek is associate professor of rhetoric and composition at Oberlin College. Her website is annetrubek.com.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101427330
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 4/27/2010
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 332,896
  • File size: 242 KB

Meet the Author

LeBron James

LeBron James plays for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. At seventeen he was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated; at nineteen he became the youngest Rookie of the Year in NBA history; at twenty-three he is the third-highest-paid athlete in the world (including endorsements). He has hosted Saturday Night Live, graced Oprah’s stage, and appeared on the cover of Fortune.


Buzz Bissinger is the author of A Prayer for the City, the New York Times bestseller Three Nights in August, and Friday Night Lights, which has sold almost 2 million copies to date and spawned a film and a TV series. He is a contributing writer for Vanity Fair.
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Table of Contents

Prologue 1

1 Mapmakers 5

2 Saviors 11

3 East Liverpool 23

4 Willie Mggee 35

5 The Decision 57

6 School Daze 71

7 Swish 85

8 Romeo Oh Romeo 99

9 The Invincibles 115

10 The Invincibles? 125

11 Cover Boy 139

12 In Or Out? 165

13 Pressure 189

14 Back to the Future 205

15 Shooting Stars 227

16 Fab Five 245

Afterword 249

Acknowledgments 253

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 32 )
Rating Distribution

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(26)

4 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 32 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 12, 2011

    Fhhhfethfrjkfwe

    Best book ever!!!!!!!!:)

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2013

    This book showed me that no matter what the circumstance; a grou

    This book showed me that no matter what the circumstance; a group of boys can overcome anything through hard work. As a big Lebron James fan myself, I have become an even bigger fan after reading his story and seeing what challenges he has overcome. Throughout this entire book, Buzz Bissinger and Lebron James kept my attention. Starting from a hard-knock life in Akron, Ohio to the big stage, the promise they all made to each other to keep working is absolutely remarkable. The different personality traits that each of the players had to compromise with I also find absolutely remarkable. This book I find very interesting and I would recommend this book to everyone that enjoys a good heart-warming book with a mix of sports. This book caused me to get goose bumps throughout the entire book, that's how interesting it was. The book was heart-warming and helped me see the other side of Lebron James and it also helped me to see that just because someone is famous, doesn't mean they had an easy life leading up to it. The hard-knock life of Akron goes right along with what I was saying about not having an easy life. I have to give Lebron James and his friends props for making something out of nothing! Seriously, you should read this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2014

    THAT HAIRLINE THO

    Hahhah lol

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2014

    Yosha

    Ok...

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2014

    Yosha

    IM BACK!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2014

    Goomba

    *Walks around.*

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2014

    Yosha

    "Maybe it's a WORD SCRAMBLE! I love those!" She screams, bouncing around

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2014

    Luigi to Swetitena

    Do you have another mini game?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2014

    Mario, Swetinia, and Bowser

    ((Yeah, but not right now.)) "Now that Dimentio got...what ever the he<_>ck that thing was, how can we stop him?" said Bowser. Nearby, a bird that seemed to have feathers made from red rose petals ((and is NON-EVIL. Yosha, please don't eat her)) flies in.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2014

    Julia

    I love Lebron

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2014

    Yeah bro!

    !!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2013

    Dru Joyce

    Even haters love him watch More Then A Game

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2013

    Lebron number two i think u should read this

    First of all lebron dosent want a girl u spells this like dis so learn ur word and dont be slang over the nook nobody cares

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2013

    Follow me on instagram

    @aclarkwilt

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2013

    Lebron the king

    Kebron is awsome because e won the championship haha

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2013

    Lebron the baby

    I have six words for lebron go suck your fu.cken ass fungina. Kobe is better

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2013

    Lebron #2(the best girl playa........alive) yeah man dhat raw

    Dis book is raw i mean i cant even explain how much they did to get dis far where they r today dis book is fanominal for the people who haven't read it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2013

    Sick

    Lebron James is the bessssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssttttttttttttt

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2013

    You need to read it

    J

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2013

    Im just like LeBrone james ....... a BOSS

    Hey if u read dis u a great sponseror homie

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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