10 Best Books About Basketball Update 05/2022

Chris Herring’s passionate debut, Blood in the Garden, is a fascinating deep dive into the New York Knicks teams of the 1990s, which Sports Illustrated senior writer Herring has covered extensively. Players like Anthony Mason, Charles Oakley, and Patrick Ewing helped the Knicks reach the conference finals twice in Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy’s tenure, and they came within one win of their first title since 1973. Herring has a talent for capturing the intensity and tension of the NBA, and he gives humanizing images of Ewing, Riley, and Van Gundy, all of whom had to overcome rough childhoods to make it to the professionals.

Fortunately for basketball fans, there is no shortage of excellent reading material on the sport to choose from. Most of these stories touch on strategy and sheer on-court fervor at some point. Even Nevertheless, the most fascinating basketball novels provide us with a wider look at society as a whole.

Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP by Mirin Fader

The definitive depiction of Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, the NBA’s most improbable superstar. In parts, the tale is heartbreaking; in others, it is lighthearted and uplifting. When it comes to Antetokounmpo’s Greek nationality and how quickly he went from poverty to affluence, Fader perfectly captures the dichotomy.

The Jordan Rules: The Inside Story of One Turbulent Season with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls by Sam Smith

It’s the first in-depth look at one of the greatest players of all time. Many of the things Jordan was defensive about back then—especially his harsh, mean-spirited treatment of his teammates—would later be hallmarks of one of the fiercest competitors to ever lace them up.

Heaven Is a Playground by Rick Telander

As a Sports Illustrated magazine feature, this book became one of the most popular basketball books of all time. It’s set in the 1970s, a period when New York City’s inner-city playground basketball was both significant and abundant. When it comes to sociology, the book is just as much of a study of basketball as it is on the sport itself.

Sum It Up: 1,098 Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life in Perspective by Pat Summitt with Sally Jenkins

Legendary University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt has written a book that captures both the ferocity and the softer side of her personality. In 2013, two years after she was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, which caused her to resign, it was released on the market for the first time ever. In 2016, Summitt died away. Even as a little child, she had events that bolstered her resolve, and reading this book is a great way to experience them.

I Came as a Shadow: An Autobiography by John Thompson with Jesse Washington

Anybody might profit from reading this article. Along with the many friendships Georgetown basketball coach Thompson had with some of the sport’s biggest names, the book lays out a number of important values he held dear. It’s ridiculous to assume he was just a basketball coach. He was a giant with lessons for all of us on race, education, and the broader concept of justice.

Loose Balls: The Short, Wild Life of the American Basketball Association by Terry Pluto

I’m a great lover of novels about sports leagues that have since been abolished. A great example is the former USFL’s “Football for a Buck.” Because of how things worked in a previous age, with significantly less resources and less polish, they all have tales that seem like they’re from another world entirely. ABA dunk contests and Dime Beer Nights are dismantled in the hilarious oral history Loose Balls. As for Jim Bouton’s Ball Four, it’s here.

A Season on the Brink: A Year with Bob Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers by John Feinstein

With integrated, season-long access to a legendary team and its iconic coach, this book is the one that spawned many others like it. There is no other work of literature that better captures the out-of-this-this-world temper of Hall of Fame coach Bobby Knight, as well as his strict adherence to NCAA rules while at Indiana. In the years since Feinstein’s 1986 bestseller, behind-the-scenes reports like this one have become very uncommon. In today’s social media era, few subjects are as comfortable being scrutinized so closely.

The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam

When it comes to writing about international affairs, social change, or sports, no one does it better than David Halberstam. But when he wrote about the Portland Trail Blazers, a club that had previously achieved greatness and won a championship, but was in turmoil at the time Halberstam wrote The Breaks of the Game, it was a pleasure to read about. As a lesson in profile writing, the book covers a wide range of topics, including labor rights, racial tensions in the NBA and shifting power relations.

Not a Game: The Incredible Rise and Unthinkable Fall of Allen Iverson by Kent Babb

Some sections of Not a Game will be tough for Allen Iverson fans, one of the greatest players of the last 25 years, to read. It’s not because the plot isn’t linear, and it’s not unjust. In a nutshell, the book is brutally honest. To the point when the superstar who has received practically every honor possible stands the danger of losing it all, it continually displays Iverson’s humanity for what it is: profoundly flawed.

Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s by Jeff Pearlman

Showtime has it all: one of the most beloved and legendary teams in history, some of the greatest players in history, some of the most colorful characters in history, all taking place during possibly the most rowdiest period in sports history, with an abundance of sex, drugs and alcohol. And luckily for us, HBO will soon be dramatizing the excellent novel. With any luck, if the book is any indication, this series will be a must-watch on television.

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