View Full Version : Summer Reading - Top 10 Basketball Books

06-09-2008, 08:24 AM
From CHN, some basketball books (http://www.collegehoopsnet.com/new/summer-reading-top-10-basketball-books-42389) to select for reading on the beach this summer:
Jon Teitel’s summer reding list of the 10 best basketball books..

1. A Season on the Brink, by John Feinstein (member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Hall of Fame)

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Feinstein follows Bob Knight and his Hoosiers through the 1985 86 season. The inside access allows the reader to see how Knight, one of the most fascinating coaches in college basketball history, works his magic both at practice and during a game.

2. The Breaks of the Game, by David Halberstam (Pulitzer Prize winner)

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Halberstam follows the Portland Trail Blazers through the 1978-79 season. The inside access allows the reader to see the interactions between the front office, players, coaches, and the entire city of Portland (brimming with issues about race, money, and even hippies).

3. Life on the Run, by Bill Bradley (former U.S. Senator and current member of the Basketball Hall of Fame)

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Bradley’s Ivy League education is clearly evident in his erudite look at his life in professional sports. Unlike Feinstein and Halberstam, Bradley’s dual roles as author/player allow an even more intimate look at life on and off the court, complete with ups (how it feels to win a championship and work as a team) and downs (the physical haul of an entire season and dealing with the fans on the road).

4. Loose Balls: the Short, Wild Life of the American Basketball Association, by Terry Pluto (2-time Pulitzer Prize nominee)

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: The ABA is largely unknown by most people born after 1980, but Pluto reminds the reader about the origins of the Slam Dunk contest, the three point basket, and some of the most colorful characters in professional basketball history. Combining the marketing efforts of a Single-A baseball team and the star power of Julius Erving, it eventually helped the NBA become the global entertainment machine it is today.

5. Heaven Is a Playground, by Rick Telander (a 4-time contributor to The Best American Sports Writing anthology)

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: The transformation from a focus on playground legend Fly Williams to an overview of inner city basketball in Brooklyn and its role in the lives of the people who play there was a good choice by Telander. The reader also gets in on the ground floor of the career of Albert King (brother of Bernard), who went from a then-14-year-old to ACC player of the year at Maryland to a 9-year NBA career.

6. The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams, by Darcy Frey (National Magazine Award winner for the story upon which this book is based)

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: With the current controversy about how long high school basketball players should have to wait until entering the NBA draft, Frey follows around the Abraham Lincoln High School basketball team, which happens to include a young phenom named Stephon Marbury. Like Albert King, Marbury honed his game on the city streets, but he is surrounded by a number of people who care about him (his teammates and family) and his talent (agents and recruiters).

7. Foul! The Connie Hawkins Story, by David Wolf

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Like King and Marbury, Hawkins was a New York playground legend who later played in the NBA, but only after being banned from the NBA after falling prey to unsavory college recruiters and allegations of corruption. His naivete and poverty contributed to his fall from grace, but the ABA came to rescue and allowed him to show his high-flying skills before later gaining entry into the NBA.

8. The City Game: Basketball from the Garden to the Playgrounds, by Pete Axthelm (former Newsweek editor and ESPN commentator)

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Axthelm’s focus on the 1969 70 championship season of the New York Knicks is matched shot for shot by the action on the playgrounds of New York City. Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe shine in front of the cameras, but it is Earl "The Goat" Manigault and Herman "the Helicopter" Knowings who jump higher and cause jaws to drop lower due to their amazing athleticism.

9. They Call Me Coach, by John Wooden (member of the Basketball Hall of Fame) with Jack Tobin

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Wooden won more championships than anyone else in college basketball history, but Tobin’s spotlight on his philosophy of life shows that Wooden is a champion person as well as a champion coach. From the “pyramid for success” to the love of his life (wife Nell) to his thoughts on Bill Walton and Lew Alcindor, Wooden has a lot to be thankful for, and a lot to share with others.

To see #10, you need to give the author a hit on the web page here (http://www.collegehoopsnet.com/new/summer-reading-top-10-basketball-books-42389). :o

I won't say how few of those books I've read, but of those I've read (okay, just one), I'd agree with Season on the Brink at the top of my list. My son gave that to me for Christmas the year it was a best seller. Now, if I could just remember what year that was ...

They all sound like fun reading to me.

P.S. Of course, Tales from the Gonzaga Hardwood would be #1 on my list for recommended basketball reading. (I haven't read Bud Withers' Braveheart.

Edited to add: I bought Tales from the Gonzaga Hardwood from SportsPulishingLLC (http://www.sportspublishingllc.com/book.cfm?id=608) not long ago, for $5.00 for the hardcover ($19.95 retail), plus shipping (which drove up the price, of course).

06-09-2008, 09:14 AM
Thanks ZN!

I was at a bookstore this weekend and ran across a book I think I'll go back and grab. If anyone has read this book, let me know. Looks like it has some nice Stockton stuff in it.

Tip Off: How the 1984 NBA Draft Changed Basketball Forever by Filip Bondy

A summary/review about this book...

In the 1984 NBA draft, the Houston Rockets had the first pick, the Portland Trail Blazers the second, and the Chicago Bulls the third. League rumor has it that, in the days before the NBA changed the rules of the draft lottery to discourage a team from deliberately losing to get an advantage, the Rockets gave up on the 1983 season from mid-way onwards so as to get hometown favorite Hakeem Olajuwon. The choice for the Trail Blazers was to select from Sam Bowie, the talented though oft-injured center, and Michael Jordan, then a North Carolina junior with tremendous talent. Stu Inman, the general manager of the Trail Blazers opted for the conventional league wisdom of big men over guards and selected Bowie. The rest is history.

The Chicago Bulls selected Jordan, who led his team to six titles, while Bowie played a few listless years with the Trail Blazers and finished his disappointing career elsewhere. Filip Bondy, a sports columnist for the New York Daily News, uses this as the launch point for a fascinating in-depth look at the way the pivotal draft evolved. That the draft also featured stalwarts such as Charles Barkley and John Stockton only adds to the generally agreed upon opinion that the 1984 draft was the best of them all and, more importantly, ushered in the NBA as we know it today.

Preceding the June draft was the selection for the U.S. Olympic team. Bob Knight, the combustible Indiana University coach, headed the Olympic team and was determined to show the world and the Soviets that his team was the best. His selection was quixotic (Steve Alford over John Stockton?) and his tryouts were almost Darwinian. Charles Barkley, an overweight center/forward from Auburn University, had no desire to go through the travails of playing for Knight but astutely sensed that the tryouts themselves were a great way to improve his draft position. There is a classic line in the book when Terry Porter, Stockton, and Barkley find themselves sharing a taxi from Bloomington after being cut by Knight, and Stockton remarks that “he would love for one chance for the players in the van to challenge the players who made the team.”

06-09-2008, 09:30 AM
That does look like a fun book to read, ZZ. I was curious who was selected for that 84 Olympics team (Wiki) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basketball_at_the_1984_Summer_Olympics).

06-09-2008, 09:43 AM
Another book to think about reading if you have some time is: John Feinstein's The Last Amateurs. It is an interesting look at a season within the Patriot league during the late 90s. The book provides food for thought as to what collegiate sports should, or shouldn't, look like

06-09-2008, 01:47 PM
Gotta check out Mitch Albom's book on the Fab Five. It's a good one, and a nice look inside a great team.


06-09-2008, 01:56 PM
Is there any books dealing with atleast anything remotely close to Gonzaga basketball?:confused:

06-09-2008, 02:33 PM
Is there any books dealing with atleast anything remotely close to Gonzaga basketball?:confused:

There are two - Tales from the Gonzaga Hardwood by Dave Boling and Bravehearts by Bud Withers. Here is a link to Amazon.com where you can purchase both. Halfway down the page, it gives you the option to purchase both as a set... Enjoy! They both are very good.


06-09-2008, 05:15 PM
GREAT book. Highly recommended. Connie Hawkins is an amazing story.