Top 10 NBA Books

In this blog I have reviewed several NBA books so far and new ones are added every now and then. Therefore, I thought it was a good idea to create a top 10 list with the best NBA books in my opinion, also for a better overview. This list can change of course and I will update it when I have read a new book.

Top NBA Books

1. The Breaks of the Game

The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam is a classic about the history of the NBA. It is about the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1979-80 season, but Halberstam also covers the history of the Portland Trail Blazers and the NBA in general. The franchise’s falling out with Bill Walton, who led the team to the title just years earlier, is also discussed in detail.

David Halberstam is (or was, as he passed away in 2007) a born storyteller and you can tell from this book that basketball was very close to his heart.

2. The Book of Basketball

Bill Simmons will probably forgive me that his The Book of Basketball is “only” second among NBA books here. After all, he himself is of the opinion that The Breaks of the Game is the best NBA book of all time.

The Book of Basketball is not only bulky on the outside, but also contains a lot of information about the history of the NBA and its best players. In addition, his humor known from his podcasts comes across well here. Fans of Wilt Chamberlain may have to lower their expectations a little, as Simmons makes no secret of his fandom for the Celtics and Bill Russell. As a neutral fan, this didn’t bother me and I see the book as a good reference work.

3. Loose Balls

Loose Balls by Terry Pluto is a book about the history of the ABA. The author has chosen a very interesting concept for this book. He lets the former players, coaches, officials and journalists of the ABA era tell their own stories. Pluto gives short introductions as well as summaries of the individual ABA seasons.

I learned a lot about the history of the ABA with this book. It’s also probably the funniest book about basketball I’ve ever read. Some of the stories are almost unbelievable today, and some probably didn’t happen in exactly the same way. But the book is really great to read. Although it is about the ABA, I included it in my Top 10 NBA Books.

4. Playing for Keeps

Playing for Keeps is another book by David Halberstam. As far as I know, he has only written two books about basketball, and both are excellent.

Playing for Keeps is about the life and career of Michael Jordan. It describes very well how little Michael from North Carolina, who in his childhood preferred to play baseball, became the best basketball player of all time for many fans. Halberstam’s fascination with and love for basketball is obvious here too.

5. West by West

Jerry West wrote West by West together with the author Jonathan Coleman. It is a biography about the Lakers legend. Since the book was published in 2011, it is not only about West’s playing career but also about his time as a general manager.

Above all, West by West is a very personal book. Jerry West describes his difficult childhood, his bad relationship with his father and the early death of his older brother, who was a role model for him. This was the beginning of a lifelong depression. West deals with this subject very openly in this book.

6. When the Game was ours

Magic Johnson and Larry Bird co-wrote When the Game Was Ours with former ESPN journalist Jackie McMullan. The names of the two NBA legends are inextricably linked, so it was very fitting that they wrote down their shared history in a book.

The book describes very well how the former arch-rivals became friends over the course of their NBA careers. In the beginning, they were not on friendly terms. The book is particularly worthwhile for fans of the 80s who want to relive the rivalry between the Celtics and the Lakers.

7. The Soul of Basketball

Ian Thomsen’s book The Soul of Basketball is about the 2010-11 NBA season, which was a very exciting season for several reasons. It began with LeBron James’ move to the Miami Heat, which he announced in a controversial TV show. The season ended with the long-awaited first title for the Dallas Mavericks and Dirk Nowitzki, which many had not expected anymore.

But a lot had also happened in between. Thomsen explains the vision of the San Antonio Spurs, the aging Celtics’ hunt for another title, the Lakers’ difficult path after two titles in a row, the work of the referees in the NBA and how Dirk became Dirk.

8. Life on the run

Former Knicks player Bill Bradley wrote Life on the run during his active career. The book is particularly interesting because it was written by an active player and describes life as an NBA professional at the time (so it’s not a biography).

The contrast between then and now is particularly interesting, everything was simply much less luxurious. Bradley also describes the stories of his teammates at the time and the reader learns a lot about the inner workings of the team. Highly recommended, and not just for fans of the New York Knicks.

9. Seven Seconds or less

For 7 Seconds or Less, NBA journalist Jack McCallum followed the Phoenix Suns team throughout the 2005-06 season. The title refers to the offensive vision of coach Mike D’Antoni. He wanted to finish a possession in 7 seconds or less if possible, so before the opposing defense could set up properly.

Above all, McCallum spent a lot of time with the coaching staff and was also involved in internal meetings. So this is one of the few books in which you get a description of life as an NBA coach. For fans of the then almost revolutionary Suns basketball, this is a very interesting book.

10. Dream Team

Dream Team is another book by Jack McCallum. It’s probably not hard to guess what this book is about. The name Dream Team is inextricably linked with the USA team at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.

You might think that the games, and therefore the book, are boring because the Dream Team was unrivaled. However, the book is less about the games in Barcelona and more about everything that happened beforehand. The team selection process was very controversial and McCallum describes the relationships between the stars and intense training sessions in great detail.