Best Basketball Books of All Time: The Top 10 List

I happen to be an avid reader who has spent many rainy days poring over a book and this year I read many famous books about basketball. Besides knowing biographies of famous personalities in basketball and getting motivation there’s one more thing that you can do with that kind of experience: tell people about some of your favorite basketball books that are really worth reading.

Best Basketball Books

Below, I am mentioning some of my favorite picks and top recommendations for you about Basketball books.

1. The Breaks of the Game

Author: David Halberstam
Publication Date: 17 February 2009
Best Recommended for: Basketball Coaches, Players and Fans

This book is a true classic and must-read for every fan of FBA as it focuses on the rise and fall of the Bill Walton-led Blazers in the late 70s. It analyzes the 1979-1980 Trailblazers, who struggled mightily only a few years after winning the NBA championship, when things were not going well.

The Breaks of the Game

In this book, David Halberstam has written far more than just basketball. He highlighted a face of our society where power, money, and talent collide with corruption and both national obsessions and naked greed get exposed. He describes the influence of big media, the fans and the hype they subsist on, the terrible physical demands of sports, the lash of ethics, the conflict of races and class and the unreal salaries. Ultimately, the consequences of converting sport into mass entertainment and when athletes transform into superstars. The Breaks of the Game Paperback features a world of grand dreams, impossible expectations, and bracing realities which make it a league of its own.

In a nutshell, Halberstam’s knowledge of the basketball world is unrivaled. He presented all in a way that puts the reader in the room and on the court.

2. Last Shot City Streets Basketball Dreams

Author: Darcy Frey
Publication date: 3 March 2004
Best Recommended for: Basketball Fans

It’s the story of Stephon Marbury as a freshman in high school with inadequate schooling and desperate family situations. He’s an upcoming basketball player, who lives in Coney Island – an area filled with crime, poverty and despair.

Last Shot City Streets Basketball Dreams

Basketball becomes the last chance for him to escape this life, get a college education, or make big money in the NBA.

This book is a must-read as it will give you a glimpse into the culture of NYC basketball and allow you to be a part of one player’s journey struggling all the way to get out of the ghetto for a better life. Moreover, the way Darcy Frey has written the story of Marbury, bumming rides in the backseat of her car around Coney Island, makes it a largely memorable story.

3. Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success

Author: Phil Jackson
Publication date: 29 April 2014
Best Recommended for: Basketball Coaches

If you’re remotely interested in NBA history then must give it a try!. Phil Jackson won a whopping 11 NBA championships as a coach, won six rings with Michael Jordan’s legendary Bulls and five more with the Los Angeles Lakers. This is the story of a preacher’s kid from North Dakota, who grew up to be one of the most innovative and successful leaders of our time.

Eleven Rings The Soul of Success

He developed a new approach to leadership after exploring from humanistic psychology and Native American philosophy to Zen meditation. He candidly describes how he:

  • Learned the secrets of mindfulness and team chemistry while playing for the champion NY Knicks in the 1970’s.
  • Managed Michael Jordan and got him to embrace selflessness, even if it meant losing a scoring title.
  • Forged successful teams out of players of varying abilities and make them trust one another and perform in sync.
  • Inspired Dennis Rodman and other “uncoachable” personalities to become part of something larger than themselves and to win as one.
  • Transformed Kobe Bryant into a mature leader of a championship team from a rebellious teenager.

Moreover, this book is full of revelations: about fascinating personalities and their drive to win, about competition at the highest levels, the wellsprings of motivation and about what it takes to bring out the best in yourself and others.

4. The Jordan Rules: The Inside Story of One Turbulent Season With Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls

Author: Sam Smith
Publication date: 1 January 1993
Best Recommended for: Basketball Players, Coaches, and Fans

This bookchanged the way the world viewed Michael Jordan and tells the Inside Story of One Turbulent Season with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls that how Jordan literally ruled on and off the court.

The Jordan Rules

It covers a lot of his achievements, in much more depth and exposes what took place behind the scenes, while delivering non-stop excitement, tension and thrills.

The Jordan rules reveal provocative picture and incomparable story of Michael Jordan, including everything from his stormy relationships with his coaches, teammates and power struggles with management – which includes verbal attacks on general manager Jerry Krause and tantrums against coach Phil Jackson for Jordan’s obsessions with becoming the leading scorer, and his refusal to pass the ball in the crucial minutes of big games. Jordan’s teammates also tell the story of their side, from Scottie Pippen, to Bill Cartwright, to Horace Grant.

Smith literally takes us into the locker room, on the team plane and team bus, and seats us on the bench during games. Sometimes, books reflecting on a team’s success don’t reach the personal level with the people who really made it happen but The Jordan Rules does.

5. Loose Balls: The Short, Wildlife of the American Basketball Association

Author: Terry Pluto
Publication date: 6 November 2007
Best Recommended for: Basketball players

The main character of the book “Loose Balls” is ABA – that was founded in 1967 as a challenger to the NBA and known for the colorful red-white-blue ball that has become as legendary as the league itself.

Loose Balls

The NBA may have won the financial battle, but the ABA have won the artistic war. With its stress on wide-open individual play, the encouragement of flashy moves and flying dunks, and the adoption of the 3-point shot and pressing defense, today’s NBA is still even decades later, just the ABA without the red, white and blue ball.

Pluto took a ton of information and successfully made it flow in a way that was logical for the reader and there’s no better way to arrange the book. It covers varied stories carried about by varied players and each season had its own storyline with its own highs and lows shared by its fans and players.

After all these years, loose balls is the definitive and most widely respected history of the ABA. It’s a wild ride through some of the wackiest, funniest, strangest times ever to hit pro sports that is entirely told through incredible words of those who played, wrote and connived their way through the nine seasons of league.

6. My Losing Season: A Memoir

Author: Pat Conroy
Publication date: 26 August 2003
Best Recommended for: Basketball Coaches and Players

Most Basketball books focus on success and winning but this book proved losing is the critical part of the game, too. This book is an incredibly painful true story about the author’s abusive childhood and his failings during his basketball career, that really gave readers the emotional sensation of playing basketball and being on a basketball team.

My Losing Season

Pat Conroy becomes part of a basketball team, during one unforgettable season as a Citadel cadet, that is ultimately destined to fail. Conroy re-creates his pivotal senior year as captain of the Citadel Bulldogs. He chronicles the highs and lows of that fateful 1966–67 season, his tough disciplinarian coach, the lessons he learnt from losing and joys of winning. Most of all, he recounted how a group of boys came together as a team, playing a sport that would become a metaphor for a man whose spirit could never be defeated.

7. They Call Me Coach

Author: Stephon Leary
Publication date: 7 October 2020
Best Recommended for: Basketball Coaches

People will surely doubt my credentials as an expert on basketball if I don’t put it in the list. This book is a best-selling autobiographical story about John Wooden and classic read for basketball enthusiasts.

They Call Me Coach

His life didn’t have a great start, an abusive dad, single mother with seven kids living in the inner-city of Houston. He managed to escape the route of drugs, alcohol, gangs, crimes, and lack of education to become a College Basketball Player.

He believes that there are seeds of greatness on the inside of him and he gets off the bench and gets into the game of Life. Later, he spent 11 years as a HS Athletic Director, Teacher, Counselor and Coach. Also he coached College Basketball four years Division 1 Assistant at Liberty University four years as Head Coach at NCAA Division 2, NBA Agent and Trainer, Business Owner of Reaching New Heights BasketBall/Shooting Stars AAU and Training Progra. Now, Author of “They Call Me Coach” Inventor and Patent Holder of Training and Rehabilitation Boot and a Motivational Speaker.

8. The Assist: A Gospel-Centered Guide to Glorifying God Through Sports

Author: Contributor Brian Smith
Publication date: 15 March 2018
Best Recommended for: Basketball players

In The Assist, Author combines the Bible (the wisdom of God’s word) and his own experience of working with athletes to help readers better understand how sport and faith is integrated, how athletes are supposed to play for the glory of God and what it actually means.

The Assist

This book specifically show you how to:

  • Use your sport to get closer to God.
  • Glorify God in every area of your sport, including practicing, injuries, relating to your teammates, winning honestly, and losing graciously.
  • As an athlete, Leverage your position to maximize your impact in God’s kingdom.

Smith’s book is aimed to assist you in integrating your faith with your life as an athlete, giving your best effort and making sure God gets the credit. Moreover, this book gives you an in-depth look into what makes sports so great and how sports can overcome the barriers like race, social class, and other factors that go into living in the inner city.

9. The Miracle of St. Anthony: A Season With Coach Bob Hurley and Basketball’s Most Improbable Dynasty

Author: Adrian Wojnarowski
Publication date: 19 January 2006
Best Recommended for: Basketball Coaches and fans

The Miracle of St. Anthony book is one of the best-selling basketball books of all time. This book follows Bob Hurley’s quest in transforming teenagers from the mean streets of Jersey City into one of the best basketball champions in the country.

The Miracle of St. Anthony

Through a gripping and heartrending season, he struggled to lead a troubled team to glory with his unparalleled understanding of the game and his ceaseless determination of no more seeing children lost into these streets.

This book is a great read for the audience looking for a story and motivation about how a coach’s passion can drive his team crazy and passionate towards success and winning. Once you pick this book up it’s really hard to put it down again before finishing!

10. Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich

Author: Mark Kriegel
Publication date: 5 February 2008
Best Recommended for: Basketball players and fans

Pistol is an unforgettable biography of Pete Maravich. Almost four decades have passed since, no one else ever has played the game like the kid with the floppy socks and shaggy hair, when he entered the national consciousness as basketball’s boy wizard.


He established records of averaging 44.2 points a game at Louisiana State University that will never be broken. But the thing that was even more enduring than the numbers, was the sense of ecstasy and artistry with which he played.

This book, except his most promising achievements in basketball, also highlights the things that happened in the life of Maravich and helped him to achieve such renowned success. Author has also discussed the sacrifices of maravich and the role of his family in his journey.

Final Verdict

Pick any of the above mentioned books that are very entertaining and informative at the same time. I assure you beside having fun, excitement and motivation you will get to know many things that happen in the life of basketball players and coaches.

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