On the wall of my daughter’s room is a quote from Dr. Seuss that says “the more that you read, the more that you will know. The more that you learn, the more places that you’ll go.” I am a firm believer in that quote. Reading is a key that can unlock so much knowledge for us. Unfortunately, I believe that today’s youth are reading less, probably because of shortened attention spans from all the forms of media they are exposed to. I have always been a voracious reader, and I have given players books that I think will help them. Along those lines, as we get to the summer, here is my list of the 10 best basketball books out there (in no particular order). Whether you are just looking for an entertaining read or are trying to pull meaningful lessons out of the text, this list is a good starting point. Enjoy, and please let me know what you think!
1. The Miracle of St. Anthony (Adrian Wojnarowski) – this book follow St. Anthony’s, one of the most storied programs in the country, through an entire season. The focus is on their coach, the legendary Bob Hurley, Sr. The book is a moving account of a great team and how that team came together to achieve their goals, led by an incredible coach.
2. Drive (Larry Bird) – my favorite basketball autobiography. Tells the story of Bird’s life from growing up poor in rural Indiana through becoming an NBA legend. Really gives you a feel for the perseverance and work ethic necessary to be the best.
3. Heaven is a Playground (Rick Telander) – a great chronicle of the New York playground scene during the 1970’s. Telander really gets into the culture of the playground game and introduces the reader to some incredible characters who were playground icons.
4. A Season on the Brink (John Feinstein) – another season long chronicle, this time of the Indiana Hoosiers in the mid 1980’s. The book gives the reader a true feel for Coach Bobby Knight, both for better and worse!
5. Play Their Hearts Out (George Dohrmann) – this book profiles the AAU circuit, and in particular Joe Keller, who has made himself a player on the AAU scene through questionable means. Not necessarily a feel good book, but a compelling look at the seedy side of the game.
6. The Jordan Rules (Sam Smith) – disclaimer: profanity. Sam Smith goes behind the scenes with the Chicago Bulls during the early 1990’s in a profile of Michael Jordan and his role within the team and the NBA. Some great stories that really give insight into Jordan as well as his teammates.
7. The Book of Basketball (Bill Simmons) – disclaimer: profanity. For anyone who is interested in the history of the game, this book is a must read. Simmons ranks the best teams of all times, best players of all time, and biggest ‘what if’s’ of all time along with countless other tidbits about the NBA. For a long book, a quick read that you can pick up at any time and chip away at.
8.Toughness (Jay Bilas) – Jay Bilas, former Duke player and current ESPN announcer, talks about what true toughness is, both in a general context but specifically with regards to the game of basketball. A must read for players and a great read for adults too, as it contains lessons that anyone would benefit from.
9. Loose Balls (Terry Pluto) – The Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto’s book on the ABA is a great collection of short stories about some of the characters that made the ABA unforgettable. A true group of eccentrics, the ABA is an overlooked part of the game, but Pluto gives it its due in this book.
10. Fall River Dreams (Bill Reynolds) – Reynolds spends a season with a Massachusetts high school team and their star player Chris Herren (who has an incredible story of his own – watch the 30 for 30 ‘Unguarded’). This story really conveys the feel of community beyond basketball, tying the game in with the socioeconomic dynamics of the community.