This new series for basketball lovers (ages ten and up) comes from former NBA star Kobe Bryant who created the idea and characters. Canadian author, Wesley King, did the writing and it’s a massive volume close to 600 pages.
The West Bottom Badgers are the worst team in the league. The live in the Bottom, the poorest suburb in Dren. Told through five different player viewpoints, they each have their own baggage of problems which in turn effects their play. The five teens include:
- RAIN: The star player. He’s the one who makes it happen. His team is only there for support.
- TWIG: He comes from a better part of town. Some resent his presence. His father is demanding and always wants him to act like a man.
- CASH: He’s big and full of muscles. Home schooled and quiet. An incident in his past haunts who he is in the present and controls who he wants to be in the future.
- Peño: Older brother of Lab with less skills on the basketball court. Mom died three years ago and his dad works long hours. Peño does all the chores and cooks for the family.
- LAB: He can’t get over the sorrow of losing his Mama. He doesn’t understand how his older brother and dad have moved on from the loss. Basketball is his escape.
The first 100 plus pages centers around Rain, the player Kobe Bryant most identifies with. He brings his A-game to the court and wishes his teammates would do the same. Everything changes at the beginning of a ten day summer training camp when a new coach arrives, Rolabi Wizenard.
Rolabi is a wizard and his training methods are magical and scary for the players. Professor Wizenard can communicate with Rain through thoughts. He also turns the run down gym into a castle where the team must defend a trophy, a crumbling mountain range where death is certain unless they make a shot, and several sense altering techniques. Throw in a real tiger who is obviously a great defender and you have the makings of the weirdest but also the most life altering camp. Rain eventually sees that basketball is a team sport and fear drives most to fail.
The next point of view is from Twig. I expected the story to continue right where Rain left off. Not so fast. Twig’s pages go back to the beginning of training camp and readers discover how he reacts to the training methods. And so we get five books in one detailing how each player survives the camp and prepares for the upcoming season.
This unusual story telling technique may bog down some, especially those not into basketball. But for the millions of basketball loving boys, ones who are always sure they will play in the big leagues, this series will be their own training camp of what it takes to succeed. I can see a coach using the Wizenard Proverbs in their own practices. They could even assign one of the five stories for a player to read who is closest to the person they are becoming.
Free of inappropriate language or teen romance, this is about life, basketball, and the fears that hold us back.
With the star power of Kobe Bryant, there is sure to be a lot of press surrounding this series. Here are few I enjoyed:
To order visit AMAZON
I received an ARC for my my honest review.
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