Those are some of the subjects of books the past decade or so. I’ve read many of them — including ones mentioned above — and have enjoyed nearly all of them. The first thought when seeing the title is “How can anyone write an entire book about that one thing” followed by, “Why didn’t I think of that?” These books describe one thing but also write about how it affects the world. They’re about one seemingly small thing that influences nearly everything. Over the years I’ve tried thinking of something that would work for that type of book. What about beds? Or pillows? Pencils? Ink? The problem was everything’s been done, or so it seems. The other problem? If you’re going to write a book it has to be something you care about, and if you’re going to write a good book it should be something you’re passionate about.
Finally, in 2010 I came up with an idea that appealed to me and proved intriguing. The idea actually came to me in a dream, and I hesitate to write that because it means you might disregard everything that comes after. The subject? The jump shot. How about a book that dissects one play and analyzes how it affects an entire game? The jumper is the most important play in basketball, it’s defining shot — today more than ever, as the 3-point shot grows in importance and every player, no matter their height or position, feels confident launching from anywhere on the court. And think about how one shot has influenced the game’s history. Basketball finally evolved once players started leaving the court to shoot. Scoring increased, excitement increased and the sport grew.
I developed the idea from there, picturing a book that featured the great shooters and searched for the best ever, a book that analyzed the science of the jumper and the tools of the trade — from the court to the rim to the net to the ball to the defenses that try and stop it.
There are sports precedents for these types of books. Tim Wendel wrote a superb one called High Heat, which focuses on the fastball and its impact on baseball.
I’d been searching for a subject since my first book Keeping the Faith came out in 2005 and I felt I had finally found it. From a personal standpoint, I’ve thought about the jump shot from the time I first picked up a nerf ball and shot it in our basement and yeah I did jump off the carpet even at the age of 5. Growing up in a basketball-obsessed family I spent hundreds of hours shooting, by myself, with my dad, uncles, friends, teammates. Even today if I have time and an open court I’m perfectly content spending an hour at a basket, firing away from 20 feet. The mysteries of the shot still fascinate me — how do the great ones get so good, how does a player sometimes lose the ability to shoot, how does it impact the strategy of a game, how do you develop the perfect shot?
So I researched the idea and spent several months working on a proposal. That was in 2010. A few weeks ago I revisited the idea and reworked the proposal a bit. My agent, who doubles as my wife, Louise, sent it out a week ago. And this week Bob Miller, a longtime publisher and editor, bought the proposal for Flatiron Books, the new nonfiction imprint of Macmillan. The book — tentatively titled Rise & Fire: A Biography of the Jump Shot — will likely come out in 2015, though there’s not an exact date yet. I’m excited to work with Bob, who has been involved with countless great books over the past few decades, including Phil Jackson’s Sacred Hoops. When I had the chance to talk with him about the book, his excitement for the project nearly equaled my own. And that’s saying quite a bit because — and if you didn’t stop reading after the part about the idea coming to me in a dream, this line might do it — this feels like the book I was born to write.
Here’s the official Publishers Marketplace announcement:
February 12, 2014 – RISE & FIRE by Shawn Fury
Shawn Fury’s RISE & FIRE: A Biography of the Jump Shot, exploring the play that revolutionized basketball and provided the greatest moments in the sport’s history — from Michael Jordan’s legacy-defining jumpers to Ray Allen’s mastery — and is a technical, personal, historical and even spiritual examination of the shot, to Bob Miller at Flatiron Books, in a nice deal, by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency (World).
This will influence TVFury a bit. I won’t be posting quite as much, most likely, though I’ll still be around quite often, writing about the Lakers, Minnesota, life in New York, Tecmo, the movies and, hopefully, will be bringing you some more editions of the Fury Files Q&As. I’ll also be spending a month in South Africa this spring and that will severely limit my output.
Otherwise I’ll be working on the book, researching, reporting and writing. It’s been a whirlwind week. But the proposal? Years in the making. And the subject? A lifetime.