20 Best Basketball Books (2024)

Explore the top 20 basketball books! From player biographies to strategic insights, find your next slam dunk read here.

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Are you a basketball enthusiast looking to dive deeper into the game’s history, strategy, and culture? Look no further! We’ve compiled a list of the best basketball books ever written, offering a blend of insightful analysis, gripping storytelling, and invaluable wisdom from some of the sport’s most legendary figures.

Whether you’re a player, coach, or fan, these books are sure to elevate your understanding and appreciation of basketball and NBA.

Top 20 Best Basketball Books of All Time

1 – The Mamba Mentality: How I Play

A must-read for aspiring athletes and driven individuals, Kobe Bryant’s manifesto lays bare his relentless work ethic, competitive spirit, and unwavering dedication to self-improvement. His “Mamba Mentality” transcends basketball, offering life lessons applicable to any pursuit.

2 – The Jordan Rules

Delve into the inner workings of the Chicago Bulls during their championship reign in the 1990s, as journalist Sam Smith provides a behind-the-scenes look at Michael Jordan’s leadership and the team’s dynamic.

3 – The Book of Basketball

In this comprehensive tome, sports columnist Bill Simmons explores the history of the NBA, ranking players, teams, and moments while injecting his signature wit and pop culture references.

4 – Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success

Phil Jackson reflects on his career, detailing the principles of leadership and mindfulness that guided him to a record-setting eleven NBA championships as a coach.

5 – Sacred Hoops

Legendary coach Phil Jackson shares his spiritual approach to coaching and team dynamics, offering profound insights into the mindset and philosophy behind his success with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers.

6 – Drive: The Story of My Life

Basketball icon Larry Bird recounts his journey from small-town Indiana to NBA superstardom, offering candid insights into his unparalleled work ethic and competitive drive.

7 – Michael Jordan: The Life

A biography that follows the remarkable journey of basketball icon Michael Jordan. Written by Roland Lazenby, the book traces Jordan’s rise from his roots in North Carolina to becoming one of the most influential athletes in history. It explores his unparalleled success on the court, his drive for excellence, and his enduring legacy in sports and beyond.

8 – Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles, and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Game of Basketball Forever

Relive the magic of the 1992 Olympic Dream Team through the eyes of renowned sports journalist Jack McCallum, as he chronicles their journey to gold and the enduring legacy they left on basketball.

9 – When the Game Was Ours

Basketball legends Larry Bird and Magic Johnson team up with writer Jackie MacMullan to reminisce about their storied rivalry and friendship, offering a firsthand account of one of the NBA’s greatest eras.

10 – The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams

Journalist Darcy Frey provides a poignant glimpse into the lives of high school basketball players in Coney Island, Brooklyn, highlighting the challenges and aspirations of inner-city youth pursuing their hoop dreams.

11 – Basketball: A Love Story

This oral history of basketball, compiled by a team of esteemed writers, features interviews with players, coaches, and personalities from all eras of the sport, offering a rich tapestry of stories and perspectives.

12 – Wooden: A Coach’s Life

Discover the life and legacy of coaching icon John Wooden, as sports journalist Seth Davis provides a comprehensive biography of the UCLA legend and his enduring influence on basketball and beyond.

13 – The Breaks of the Game

Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Halberstam goes behind the scenes of the Portland Trail Blazers’ 1979-1980 season, offering a compelling narrative of triumph and adversity in the world of professional basketball.

14 – Basketball Junkie: A Memoir

Former NBA player Chris Herren bares his soul in this candid memoir, chronicling his struggles with addiction and redemption journey, serving as a cautionary tale and source of inspiration.

15 – Loose Balls: The Short, Wild Life of the American Basketball Association

Sportswriter Terry Pluto delivers an entertaining and informative account of the ABA, the renegade league that revolutionized professional basketball in the 1970s, featuring colorful characters and memorable moments.

16 – The Miracle of St. Anthony: A Season with Coach Bob Hurley and Basketball’s Most Improbable Dynasty

Follow sportswriter Adrian Wojnarowski as he embeds himself with the St. Anthony High School basketball team in New Jersey, chronicling their remarkable journey under the guidance of legendary coach Bob Hurley.

17 – Sum It Up: A Thousand and Ninety-Eight Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life in Perspective

Legendary Tennessee Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt shares her remarkable story, from her upbringing in rural Tennessee to her unparalleled success as one of the winningest coaches in NCAA basketball history.

18 – The Punch: One Night, Two Lives, and the Fight That Changed Basketball Forever

John Feinstein revisits the infamous 1977 altercation between Rudy Tomjanovich and Kermit Washington, exploring its lasting impact on the players involved and the NBA as a whole.

19 – Basketball (and Other Things): A Collection of Questions Asked, Answered, Illustrated

Writer Shea Serrano tackles a wide range of basketball-related questions with humor and insight in this entertaining and irreverent book, accompanied by illustrations from artist Arturo Torres.

20 – Coach Wooden and Me: Our 50-Year Friendship On and Off the Court

NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar reflects on his enduring friendship with coach John Wooden, offering a heartfelt tribute to the man who shaped not only his basketball career but also his life.

These 20 basketball books offer a diverse range of perspectives on the sport, from the exploits of NBA superstars to the trials and triumphs of high school and college teams. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a casual observer, there’s something on this list to pique your interest and deepen your appreciation for the game of basketball.

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