Baseball (and Fantasy Baseball) has volumes of great books and novels written about it, as the game dates back to the 19th century, and there are even some great football books out there. But we don’t usually think about the NBA as having a great library of literature available to us. I’m going to change all that.
5 Great Basketball Books Worth Reading Twice
Here are my five favorite basketball books worth reading again and again.
Easily one of my most favorite sports books ever, Terry Pluto interviews players, coaches and dozens of movers and shakers from the ABA era. From the San Antonio Spurs to Dr. J to Bob Costas to the three-point line, we have so much that came from the ABA to be thankful for, and this book does an awesome job of putting it all into perspective.
It’s a fun read – and a great gift for any true basketball fan.
HBO’s Bill Simmons, formerly of ESPN, wrote this book a few years ago, and it has his humor and sensibility throughout. He digs into some of the best debates in NBA history, including who was better: Wilt Chamberlain or Bill Russell? And his Boston-bias aside, he does a pretty good job of convincing me that Russell was much better for a team than Chamberlain.
He counts down the best players in NBA history, and reorganizes the NBA Hall of Fame so that it finally makes sense.
Step 1: Buy this hardbound book.
Step 2: Place in bathroom.
Step 3: Get excited every time you have to hit the head.
This book is a great read because of the context surrounding when it was written. It was written after the Bulls won a championship, but before Michael Jordan’s first retirement. There are tantrums to be witnessed and it was the very first time we started to look at His Airness with something different than reverence. We still respected him, but I think he became more human, which meant he earned more haters and more fans.
David Halberstam might just be the greatest sports book writer in history, as he has written some of the best baseball books ever, and now he takes on basketball. He’s a Pulitzer Prize winner that had 20 books under his name before he died.
This book details the 1979-80 NBA season of Bill Walton and the Portland Trailblazers, who had won the NBA championship just three seasons earlier. This book is deeper than just a basketball book, just like how “Summer of ‘49” was more than just a baseball book. If you’ve never read Halberstam, this is a great one to start on.
Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry and Charles, and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Forever Changed the Game of Basketball Forever
Way-too-long title aside, this is a book all 35-to-40-year-olds should give this book a read, helping them harken back to a magical time in the world of international basketball.
Before the 1992 Summer Olympics, the only basketball players allowed to play for Team USA were in college – or coming out. NBA players were professionals, and they weren’t allowed to play, which means we missed seeing this amazing group of players in both 1984 (along with Dr. J and Kareem Abdul-Jabaar) and 1988 (with Kevin McHale).
Imagine if MLB All-Stars Clayton Kershaw, Buster Posey, Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Paul Goldschmidt were able to play for Team USA in the 2016 Summer Olympics. Then multiply that times five. That’s what the ’92 Dream Team was like.
This book does a great job of explaining how the Dream Team was assembled, and it follows it through the entire tournament, along with some great behind-the-scenes looks at their star-studded practices and poker games.
While there are plenty of other great basketball books, I really do think this handful does the job in both entertaining and educating today’s NBA fan. In the end, these are just some great, fun reads.
Dream Team Photo Credit: John W. McDonough, Getty Images