Swee' Pea

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Author: John Valenti

In this updated edition of a lost classic of sports writing, authors John Valenti and Ron Naclerio chronicle the life of Lloyd Daniels, one of New York City’s most legendary basketball players.

Lloyd Daniels learned to hoop on the playgrounds of Brooklyn and Queens during the 1980s. “Swee’pea” they called him. His rep on the court traveled all the way to the Bronx, and across the country, earning him enthusiastic comparisons to the likes of Magic Johnson. Swee’pea was sure to make it to the big time and out of a New York City where drugs and violence had gripped many of its neighborhoods. And eventually he did, leaving the city’s asphalt courts for the shiny hardwoods of NCAA programs, minor pro-leagues, and eventually the NBA.

He took with him, however, a drug habit, a learning disability, and a reputation for self-destruction.

With Swee’pea, Newsday reporter John Valenti and celebrated New York City high school basketball coach Ron Naclerio brilliantly capture how an athletic phenom becomes both a product of his environment, and his own worst enemy. Supplementing Daniels’s enigmatic story are profiles of basketball successes like former NBA stars Kenny Anderson, John Salley, and Mark Jackson—and tragedies like Earl “The Goat” Manigault, Richie Adams, and Tony “Red” Bruin—who never made the league.

Timeless, gritty, and hard-hitting, Swee’pea is a classic tale that illuminates why so many of basketball's best players throw away multimillion dollar careers, and a journey back to a time when the humble playground courts of New York City were giving rise to some of the finest players in the world.


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