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Michael Jordan: A Life Above the Rim
     

Michael Jordan: A Life Above the Rim

by Robert Lipsyte
 
Michael Jordan was a late bloomer. Cut from the Varsity basketball team in high school when he first tried out, Michael nonetheless became the best basketball player that ever lived—Rare Air Jordan. The true story of how Michael Jordan achieved this amazing level of success as a basketball player—and as the high king of commercial

Overview

Michael Jordan was a late bloomer. Cut from the Varsity basketball team in high school when he first tried out, Michael nonetheless became the best basketball player that ever lived—Rare Air Jordan. The true story of how Michael Jordan achieved this amazing level of success as a basketball player—and as the high king of commercial endorsements—underscores one of the new roles of athletes in our society today. Here's a fascinating look at both the evolution of basketball and Michael Jordan's stunning climb to the peak of his sport, and his season in minor league baseball.

Young Adult Choices for 1996 (IRA)

Author Biography: Robert Lipsyte is the author of The Contender, an ALA Notable Children's Book of 1940–1970, and The Brave, a l992 Best Book for Young Adults (ALA). Mr. Lipsyte lives in New York, NY. Winner of the 2001 Margaret Edwards Award

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Basketball star Jordan has risen to great heights and his resulting fame has called into question the exploitation of poor young men in sports and the responsibilities facing a role model like Jordan for young boys. Easy to read text accompanied by pictures and an index may be a draw for sports-minded reluctant readers.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060242350
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/01/1994
Series:
Superstar Lineup Series
Pages:
112
Product dimensions:
5.37(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.53(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Make it, Michael—Coach Dean Smith

Early that morning, the freshman later confessed, a strange feeling came over him and a daydream unreeled in his head.

The clock's last seconds tick away as thousands stand in silence, all eyes on a ball hurtling toward the outstretched fingers of the gangly freshman alone in the comer. He snatches the pass, dribbles a step, then launches himself off the court. He seems to rise forever, and eveyone, on the floor, in the stands, in living rooms and barrooms across the sports-crazed nation, wonders if he will ever come down. But now he has stopped rising, he is frozen in space for an endless split second, time enough to launch the ball on a long soft Journey. Glory or guilt, eveything comes down to his shot.

A silly scenario, really, the same goofy fantasy that plays through the mind of every boy and girl shooting jumpers alone in a gym or on an empty playground in the fading twilight.

The shot, the swish, the victory, and of course the adoration of screaming fans.

The daydream carried the freshman, as it carried so many thousands, millions of players, through hours and years of practice, and made every boring drill, every day spent learning to straighten a shooting wrist or dribble on either side, a warm-up to The Shot in The Big Game.

But every so often a daydream comes true.

It was the final game of the 1982 National Collegiate Athletic Association championship. Two great teams and two famous coaches were pitted against each other.

The Georgetown Hoyas had stormed through the tournament behind their powerful center,Patrick Ewing, and their huge, stern coach, John Thompson. Thompson was known for the barriers he helped break down as a black coach at a major university. The strict academic code he imposed on his players was a shining example of a college program that tried to be sure athletes were not just gladiators, but students as well.

The North Carolina Tar Heels followed an equally famous and respected coach. Dean Smith was the most popular man in North Carolina, except perhaps for his star, James Worthy. But despite several trips to the NCAA finals, none of Smith's teams had won the title. Even Coach Smith's most loyal supporters were beginning to wonder if he could ever win the big one.

Maybe he was starting to wonder, also, as the New Orleans Superdome throbbed with the energy of 60,000 spectators roaring for the Hoyas or the Tar Heels in the closing moments of a tight game.

The freshman, Michael Jordan, was not yet famous or respected. Despite his hazy daydream early in the morning, he had not yet risen to the occasion. He was nervous; he felt chilly, and his play was uneven — until the closing moments.

Suddenly he exploded, as if the movie in his mind had finally come into focus. He popped in three quick baskets, made a steal and pulled down a rebound. He kept the Tar Heels in possession of the ball as the game clock edged toward zero.

The hoop battle raged. The Hoyas' giant center, Ewing, grabbed a rebound and headed upcourt, looking for his guard, Sleepy Floyd. Sleepy took the pass, beat his man and laid in a sweet jumper with less than sixty seconds to play. Coach Smith called time out.

Basketball fans still try to imagine the pressure inside the Tar Heels' last huddle. The fate of a season was on the line. North Carolina's two stars, Worthy and Sam Perkins, were the best hopes for that one last shot, but Coach Smith knew the Hoyas would swarm all over the two players before they could put one up.

There was only one chance. The riskiest.

The freshman would take the last shot.

All Coach Smith supposedly said was, "Make it, Michael."

What happened next was the birth of a legend. The ball came to Michael Jordan, and he passed it back and forth with the other guard, Jimmy Black.

Black snapped the ball to forward Matt Doherty at the top of the key; Doherty threw it over to Jordan on the left side. Even as two Hoyas rushed up, Jordan was high above the floor, and he floated the shot, seventeen feet away from the basket.

The ball did what it always did in the daydream. It brushed the net softly and dropped through.

The shot, the swish, the victory, and of course the adoration of screaming fans.

Georgetown never recoveredand the game ended, 63-62, when Worthy intercepted a desperation pass. North Carolina finally had its title, and life changed for Michael Jordan, a local middle-class kid whom no one expected too much from, a late bloomer who had once gotten cut from his high school team.

In a few years, Michael Jordan would be Air Jordan, the most electrifying player basketball had ever seen, a superstar who would transform not only how the game was played, but how it was watched and how it was sold.

But right now it was more than enough to be the freshman who made The Shot.

Meet the Author

Robert Lipsyte is an award-winning sportswriter for The New York Times and USA Today and is the author of a number of acclaimed books, including The Contender and Raiders Night. He is also the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award honoring the whole of his contribution to literature for young readers. He lives in New York.

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