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by Paul Volponi

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: May 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-670-06130-3
Publisher: Viking

Harlem’s Rucker Park amateur basketball tournaments combine street players and wannabes in a showcase of slam-dunk explosive talent. No one is supposed to die. Volponi explores the temptations of money and fame for talented young players who showcase in the park. Mackey is black, but he’s been tight with J.R. since fifth grade, and they’ve become a duo that can read each other completely on the court. Now J.R., a Puerto Rican who lived across the street from the park, is dead, but the tournament goes on. J.R.’s dad, Stove, has been more a father to Mackey than anyone, and is also the fairest referee at Rucker Park games. J.R. and Mackey had joined the Greenbacks sponsored by a rapper who’s floating money around the neighborhood, and gambling against Nonfiction—the toughest team around, known for their coach’s dirty tricks and mean mouth. Throughout the vivid descriptions of the game, it seems that Mackey is caught between guilt and anger. Whether he’s sold out for money or if he will turn in the man who killed his friend appears to be the conflict, which is illuminated in the last few pages and incidentally last few minutes of the game. The most demanding hoops fanatic will love the descriptions of the action, and those looking for suspense will hang in for the whodunit aspect. A slam dunk! (Fiction. YA)