Basketball Books

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There's a baseball-books thread...I've read some good ones: When the Garden Was Eden, about the early '70s Knicks (didn't realize they turned it into a 30 for 30; Loose Balls, my favourite, a history of the ABA; The Punch, about Kermit Washington laying out Rudy Tomjanovich (sad; Tomjanovich recovered, Washington didn't); Pistol, a biography of Maravich (my favourite player in high school). When the Raptors were in the finals with Golden State, I read Betaball. I'm reading The Last Pass right now: I wanted a good book on Bill Russell, and the biography that's out there didn't appeal to me. I didn't realize it's more about Bob Cousy and his his complicated relationship with Russell, but it's good. At some point I'll start on a biography of Marvin Barnes I bought; "turbulent" is a good come-on in any subtitle.

clemenza, Sunday, 4 October 2020 00:47 (two years ago) link

John McPhee wrote one about Bill Bradley:

the unappreciated charisma of cows (Aimless), Sunday, 4 October 2020 00:55 (two years ago) link

David Halberstam wrote one about the Bill Walton edition of the Trail Blazers, in the year after the championship:

the unappreciated charisma of cows (Aimless), Sunday, 4 October 2020 00:58 (two years ago) link

I'll probably read Halberstam's Michael Jordan book one day, although I'm not sure if it'll add much to the Netflix series...I guess a good enough writer always can.

clemenza, Sunday, 4 October 2020 01:04 (two years ago) link

Playing for Keeps is pretty good, though it’s been a long time since I read it. MJ declined to be interviewed and didn’t get to shape the narrative as much as in The Last Dance.

circles, Sunday, 4 October 2020 03:33 (two years ago) link

breaks of the game is absolutely essential. lazenby's bios of jordan and kobe are very useful and well-researched as far as setting context for those guys' careers. jack mccallum's dream team book is a lot of fun, i would highly recommend it. his warriors and suns books are also enjoyable if a little less essential.

call all destroyer, Sunday, 4 October 2020 03:43 (two years ago) link

bill russell's memoir/bio red and me is worth a read if you're interested in him. somewhat lightweight but bill is never less than a straight shooter so you get some honest commentary too.

call all destroyer, Sunday, 4 October 2020 03:46 (two years ago) link

and actually this is my strongest rec: forty-eight minutes by bob ryan and terry pluto. it's a blow-by-blow of a regular season game between the '87 celtics and a very young underdog '87 cavs team. against expectations, the game gets competitive. they cover the couple days leading up and then literally write a play-by-play account of the game, which sounds like it could be boring but is the complete opposite. if you want to know about being on the road, practicing in a weird gym, signing a guy to a 10-day contract and having to play him against the defending champs, and what goes into every possession in an nba game, read this book.

call all destroyer, Sunday, 4 October 2020 03:53 (two years ago) link

Sounds like a couple of baseball books out there (like Daniel Okrent's Nine Innings) that analyze a single game inning by inning--will look around for that. Another one I got really cheap via Book Outlet:

clemenza, Sunday, 4 October 2020 04:50 (two years ago) link

the two that come immediately to mind are David Frey's "The Last Shot" and David Wolf's "Foul! The Connie Hawkins Story"

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Wednesday, 14 October 2020 03:19 (two years ago) link

five months pass...

Just started Gary Pomerantz's Wilt, 1962: The Night of 100 Points and the Dawn of a New Era (same guy who wrote The Last Pass, the Cousy-Russell book). As a baseball fan, the history of which stretches back to the 1800s, found this amazing: when the NBA selected its 50 Greatest Players Ever in 1996, they were all alive except Pete Maravich. When Chamberlain died in 1999, that was only the second death among the 50.

clemenza, Friday, 2 April 2021 14:49 (one year ago) link

I liked it when I read it a long time ago. I think of the pre-Russell era as "the early NBA" and Russell's career as sort of the "classical NBA" and that NBA 50 team barely had any early NBA players on it because everyone agreed that the players who came after were so much better. Lots of them have died in the last 20 years, but Cousy, Russell, Pettit, and Sam Jones are still alive. I remember that book having an interesting section about Paul Arizin, who I hadn't known anything about, but who won a couple scoring titles in the '50s and sort of bridged the eras.

circles, Saturday, 3 April 2021 00:44 (one year ago) link

"Because everyone agreed that the players who came after were so much better" might be the biggest difference; there's this thing with baseball that Ty Cobb and Cy Young and Tris Speaker are still put near the front of the line 100 years after they played.

Haven't gotten to the Arizin section yet, but my favourite thing so far is the guy Evo (no last name given) who was the there for the 100-point game. He'd previously attended one baseball game in his life, which he found really boring and never went to another: Don Larsen's perfect game.

clemenza, Saturday, 3 April 2021 15:23 (one year ago) link

Evo Ionni was his name--he died in 2012.

He also played golf with Sam Snead!

clemenza, Saturday, 3 April 2021 19:54 (one year ago) link

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