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Valparaiso Univ. Law School

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Through the Fire

Even if you aren’t a basketball fan (and I am not), check out Through the Fire.  It is a documentary about Sebastian Telfair’s rags-to-riches jump from Lincoln High School straight to the NBA.  Telfair grew up in a public housing project in Coney Island, Brooklyn and, passing up an offer to play at Louisville, he skipped college and entered the 2004 NBA draft directly out of high school.  The movie is compellingly woven together by interviews with Telfair, his brothers, his high school coach and, also, intense high school game footage.  The story follows Telfair’s high school basketball “career” to his eventual signing of a $15 million sneaker deal in his senior year – all this after Telfair emotionally mentions in an interview that he grew up without money to purchase sneakers, and had to borrow his sister’s sneakers to play out on the Coney Island courts.

And, the movie is at least marginally related to contract law for a few reasons.  First, it shows the scouts and other forces of the seemingly lawless basketball culture in the lead-up to Telfair’s pre-NBA $15 million endorsement deal with Adidas.  Second, it, perhaps, raises questions about sneaker companies’ donation of shoes and use of charismatic high school players to begin building brand loyalty in the schools (and, thereby, help competitive NYC high schools to lure agile teenage basketball players with the incentive of free sneakers).  And, finally, it indirectly introduces what seems to be a hotly contested issue: whether a 20-year age requirement for the NBA draft should be included in the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NBA and players.

[Meredith R. Miller]

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