This February, NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld will celebrate the release of the second installment of their “Streetball Crew” series of novels for young adults. “STEALING THE GAME” (Disney / Hyperion Books) is the fast-paced and entertaining story about teamwork, friendship, dark secrets and having blind faith for those in our lives who have earned it.
If only life could be as easy as basketball. Get the ball through the hoop. How simple. Quiet teenager Chris Richards could understand basketball easily enough. Dribble. Run. Pass. Shoot. Score. Repeat. He could do it in his sleep. Or if life could be as self-determined as the worlds and characters he created in the comic books he was writing. Every illustration born from his imagination. Every sentence his own creation. Easy.But life is not easy for Chris and actually becomes considerably more difficult when his older brother Jax drops out of law school at Stanford and returns home. Jax seems different. He isn’t the “golden boy” who Chris had always admired. His behavior is mysterious and secretive. His attitude about life and his future have changed completely. And Jax’s suspicious new friend in the hoodie sweatshirt—who Chris has nicknamed as “Fauxhawk”—is up to no good. Something is wrong with the brother he idolizes and Chris is worried. Very worried. He needs to get to the bottom of it before something really bad happens.
STEALING THE GAME is not a saccharine-infused young adult novel. It is a wry and rollicking thrill ride that also tackles substantive issues like building self-esteem in teenagers, celebrating one’s individuality and what it means to feel special. And it never loses sight of the fact that teenagers also talk trash on the court, debate zombies and fall in love while watching classic French movies.
Abdul-Jabbar and Obstfeld’s narrative is sure-footed both on and off the court. Funny and thoughtful, their prose provides plenty of laughs and action amid many twists and turns, as Chris and his friend and teammate Theo—“a middle school Sherlock Holmes”—test their powers of deduction and figure out the mystery just in time. In less than a week, Chris has got to find the strength to step out of his brother’s shadow, find his own voice, and rely on the instincts and insights that he never knew he had. He will confront his brother, elude the police, play the basketball game of his life, and maybe, just maybe, he will save Jax’s life in the process. Easy.
STEALING THE GAME.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played basketball for the Milwaukee Bucks and for the Los Angeles Lakers, helping his teams win six NBA Championships. He is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, and he also holds the records for the most field goals and the most minutes played. Kareem gave the game the skyhook, considered basketball’s most classic offensive move. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995. Since retiring he has been an actor, basketball coach, and a New York Times best-selling author, focusing on history. In 2012 he was selected as a U.S. Cultural Ambassador, and a bronze statue of him making his signature skyhook was unveiled in front of Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
Raymond Obstfeld is a novelist, screenwriter, and nonfiction writer. His second, Dead Heat, was nominated for an Edgar Award. He also wrote an award-winning young adult novel entitled Joker and the Thief. Raymond has previously collaborated with Kareem on the first book in the Streetball Crew series, Sasquatch in the Paint; the sports memoir On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance; and the nonfiction picture book What Color Is My World? Mr. Obstfeld currently teaches creative writing at Orange Coast College as an associate professor.