Getting down to the real game

MANCHESTER - The story line is one that is all too familiar today in the world of basketball; the high school phenom who wants to play the minimum requirement of one year in college before making the jump to the pros.

On Saturday, July 27, that storyline will be at the root of the discussion when author, New York Daily News columnist and anchor of ESPN's The Sports Reporters, Mike Lupica, presents his new book "True Legend" at the Northshire Bookstore at 3 p.m.

The book tells the story of a star high school point guard named Drew - who is also referred to as True - in New York City who relocates to California with his mother with the help of a wealthy benefactor. Along the way, he begins to "lose his way and become spoiled" by the wealthy man who hired his mother and his perception on his high school basketball career begins to change, Lupica said.

"He starts to think of his last couple of years of high school basketball as just a speed bump on his way to being a one and done guy in college basketball and the book is about him rediscovering what's really important about being a teammate and what's really important about his love for basketball," Lupica said.

A theme that is ever present throughout his books, Lupica said, is the importance of being a good teammate. The characters in his books that are not good teammates are typically the ones who do not fare well. Lupica said of all the books he's written, "True Legend" is among his favorites because of what the central character rediscovers in the end.

"I wanted to deal with all of the things that happen to kids who are looking down the road and they forget to appreciate the fun of being a high school kid. That's a big part of this," Lupica said. "He stops enjoying the moment because he's looking at some distant point where he thinks he's supposed to end up and then finds out that the friendship of his teammates and how much they rely on him matters more than anything to him."

The idea to give a talk at the Northshire Bookstore was one that Lupica's wife suggested while they have been in the area vacationing over the past couple of weeks.

"I just happen to believe that independent bookstores like this are the rock solid foundation of what I do and this one's pretty special and I'm always in there when we're in town," said Lupica.

After a call to his publicist who then called the bookstore to express Lupica's interest in giving a presentation, a date and time was agreed upon rather quickly, according to Mary Allen, the bookstore's director of events and publicity.

"Obviously we're thrilled that he likes the bookstore and that he offered to do an event here because he's a big deal," said Allen. "It speaks to this area. It speaks very highly of the store and the community that he wanted to do something that we hadn't sought him out to do."

In the 10 years that he has been writing books for young readers - of which he produces two a year - Lupica said it has changed his life significantly.

"It's as much a thrill as anything I've ever done in my career to come to be known as someone who gets kids to want to read," he said.

Lupica said that he constantly hears from parents that their children were not very interested in reading until they picked up one of his books. After that, they have told him, their children read his books at a torrid pace.

As the writer, Lupica said he prides himself on never writing the "same" book twice.

"You always have to keep finding ways to stretch yourself as a writer," Lupica said. "I just keep trying to write books that entertain me and I feel like if they entertain me then they're going to entertain my young readers."

Follow on Twitter @BrandonCanevari


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