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LeBron's Dream Team: How Four Friends and I Brought a Championsip Home Paperback – April 27, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
LeBron James didn't have a spectacular childhood. He and his mother Gloria moved around and didn't have much money. They lived in the projects until he graduated high school. But in junior high he became very tight with three friends, and little did he know this would propel him to legendary status. They dubbed themselves The Fab Four playing basketball together for years, collectively deciding to enroll at St. Vincent-St. Mary High despite their racial minority there. After their freshman year they accepted a transfer student as one of their own and soon enough became The Fab Five.
Amazingly, yet not completely surprising, St. V won back-to-back Ohio state championships the first two years with LeBron and company. Two years later they won another state championship, and were national champs to boot. The way LeBron describes his lifestyle and the games is humbling and he speaks more about his teammates than himself even. He isn't arrogant about how good he was and the game notes seemed rather restrained - he truly was a beast on the court if you've never seen high school footage. He was a man among boys running opponents out of the gym, but in the book credits more to his team than his own successes.
LeBron was on the cover of Sports Illustrated his junior year and publicity was soaring. But with all the hype and hoopla came troubles. He and his teammates admitted to smoking marijuana, Gloria battled with loan dilemmas after buying her son a Hummer, and LeBron was even suspended for accepting gifts. Even though it was a celebrity life, he dealt with everything as best as a teenager could.
Shooting Stars depicts the rise of one of the best ever and I feel I understand LeBron James better knowing where he comes from.
Sadly, while Bissinger turned a telescope on small Permian High's football glories in his seminal HS football tome, here, he instead is amplifying a trite, pre-packaged PR schpiel for one of the planet's most famous -- and most managed -- pro athletes.
FNL was all heart. It was authentic, it was a great story and whatever resonance it had came about organically in both the story itself and in Bissinger's obvious enthusiasm to tell it for its own sake. With THREE NIGHTS IN AUGUST, Bissinger's painfully pre-packaged baseball biography of Tony LaRussa told through the device of a three-game series, the author began a descent from artistry informed by marketability to an inversion. SHOOTING STARS completes the fall -- this book is a press release.
Without a doubt, James' story is compelling in many ways. His high school fame is a well-known but still fertile field, and here his people tried to draw some attention to a less-widely known angle of the story: the four friends who followed (and - surprisingly - often drove James) through those high school years. But, Bissinger's treatment is shameless. One can almost see the outline he worked from as plot points are laid out and linked too overtly to thematic goals (i.e., freshman year title game, the small and overlooked member of the quintet comes through in a big way: be sure to emphasize LeBron's willingness to step back and his real joy at seeing his friend win the glory).
It is telling that Bissinger was remarkably unseen on the book's PR launch this week. On NPR, rather than have Bissinger and James discuss the book together, LeBron carried the water himself. In a lot of ways, I can see the value of that approach, but with James deploying malapropisms like "calm and collective," the interview can't have done much to sell the book to even the most curious NPRer. They could have used Bissinger to close the deal. My sense though is that -- much like the book -- his heart might not have been in it.