I know a little bit about this category, having spent a year devouring writing about hoops while editing Basketball: Great Writing About America’s Game for the Library of America. These books remind me of the game’s remarkable reach into our lives—both how we live them and how we imagine them
Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles, and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Game of Bask
Jack McCallum$18.00 $16.56
Jack McCallum covered the 1992 Barcelona Olympics so thoroughly that he would ramble along the Ramblas with Charles Barkley into the wee hours. Thus he’s the perfect person to revisit not just Chuck, but Magic, Michael, Larry and all the members of the Dream Team, and put that moment in its rightful place.
Brian Doyle$28.95 $26.06
Before his death from cancer in 2017, Brian Doyle was beloved by readers for his spirituality-infused essays and regionalist fiction. What he, in turn, adored as much as anything was basketball. Here he explores those things that moved him most about the game, from the briefest moments, to the tiniest details, to the sweeping stories, to the community shared by those who really know hoop. A particular favorite of mine is “His Last Game,” a tribute to his terminally ill brother.
Andrew Maraniss$19.95 $18.35
For decades, former Vanderbilt star Perry Wallace kept quiet about what it was like to integrate college basketball in the Deep South. Andrew Maraniss finally drew him out about the details, the costs, and the rewards of his pioneering turn in Nashville. A vitally important story, movingly and finally told.
Life may be a taskgarden, Rick Telander reminded us with his first book, written back in the mid-Seventies, but heaven is something else altogether. A generation grew up on the cast of characters at Brooklyn’s Foster Park, only a few of whom were destined to make it big. A moment in basketball time, still funny and poignant.
George Dohrmann found inspiration for this winner of the PEN/ESPN Prize for Literary Sportswriting in a decidedly non-sports book: Adrien Nicole Leblanc’s Random Family. That’s because this, too, is a longitudinal study—of the unregulated youth basketball scene that sprawls across Southern California, and the travel-team coaches, college recruiters and shoe-company reps who want a piece of the action.
While on staff with Sports Illustrated, Chris Ballard wrote richly reported and keenly observed stories about the NBA. This is his opus—a “thinking man’s guide,” to be sure, but an aesthete’s companion too. Will add another dimension to the way you watch a basketball game.