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Sports

Sports

Issue: "Summer Books 2004," July 3, 2004

Diaper dandies Call it post-LeBron syndrome. This year about a half dozen high-schoolers made the jump from their hometowns to the first round of the NBA draft. The talents of some of these NBA neophytes are unquestioned. Dwight Howard, a born-again Christian high-school student, may have the finest skills in the draft. Raised by his grandfather (a Korean War-era Marine veteran), Shaun Livingston has a combination of discipline and size that could make him an outstanding point guard. Even if Georgia high-school product Josh Smith doesn't make it big in the NBA, he can always fall back on the $12 million deal he signed with Adidas. And then there's Sebastian Telfair, the sub-6-foot guard from New York. Mr. Telfair's size may be a detriment in the NBA, but it has already landed him on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Many more high-schoolers, seeing what LeBron did last season, thought they could make it in the draft. Thankfully, four of the longest shots to be drafted out of high school withdrew their names once it became apparent they would not become instant NBA superstars. But Mississippi high-schooler Jackie Butler refused to give up the dream and now faces a tough road to NBA riches equipped with little more than an NBA-ready body. Around the Horn » Baseball's fringe sabermatricians are at it again. But this time, number crunchers aren't lauding Scott Hatteberg or Kevin Youkilis (termed the Greek god of walks by Michael Levin's Moneyball). Duke statistician Jerry Reiter says clubs would have a better shot at beating the San Francisco Giants if they stopped walking Barry Bonds intentionally. According to Mr. Reiter's research, the only time it pays to walk Mr. Bonds intentionally is with no one on base and one out. » Basketball stars Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone, and Ben Wallace weren't just key players in this year's NBA finals. They also fit into a special category defined by the U.S. government: overweight. According to the guidelines developed by the federal Centers for Disease Control, Mr. Bryant-one of pro sports' leanest stars-could stand to lose about five pounds. What would a fit NBA player look like according to the method employed by the CDC? At 7-foot-6, 280 pounds, Dallas center Shawn Bradley has a normal body type according to the CDC method.

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