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Five Basketball Books to Get You Through the Hoop Hiatus

Updated: Mar 27


With basketball on all levels on a temporary hiatus and most of the world on a social distancing protocol there is lots of alone time. We at ‘nique are looking to fill this with some excellent reading selections that fellow basketball appreciators would enjoy. Our book choices will look to expand your mind and your enjoyment of the game we all love. Take a look at our current curated titles below and begin a new journey into basketball…

Showboat: The Life of Kobe Bryant, Roland Lazenby Lazenby, the author of the Michael Jordan: The Life, does an incredible job telling the story of Kobe Bryant. He begins with his parents and continues all the way to his adulthood and the season he ruptured his Achilles and fills the book with incredible details. Full of interviews from family, friends and basketball people of all levels, Lazenby weaves the story of Kobe from unknown kid from Italy to becoming the Black Mamba and the legacy he created. Showboat offers a look into Kobe’s family life that is rarely talked about as well as many other facets of the man that may be eye-opening. Though the book is a bit on the longer side, it’s definitely worth the time to read and appreciate the making of one of the greatest players to ever play the game.

Loose Balls: The Short, Wild Life of the American Basketball Association, Terry Pluto Pluto goes deep into the incredibly colourful history of the American Basketball Association, the rogue league that competed with the NBA for talent and basketball fans from 1967 to 1976. From it’s inception, to the time it merged with the NBA, he tells the league’s story through interviews with the players and people that were the league. Loose Balls is nothing short of incredible with first hand stories from basketball luminaries like Julius Erving, Rick Barry, George Mikan and Bob Costas telling the wild ride that was the ABA. For anyone that loves the history of the game, this is a must read.

Can I Keep My Jersey?: Eleven Teams, Six Years, Five Countries, and My So-called Career as a Professional Basketball Player, Paul Shirley

Shirley, a former ESPN columnist and current author, tells the story of his professional basketball career from a first person account. Playing from 2001 until 2008, he outlines the stops he’s made from Greece through Spain, the NBA and everywhere in between and the various adventures, some outlandish, along the way. A light-hearted read, Can I Keep My Jersey chronicles what a player’s life is like when they’re not an NBA First Round pick and are just fighting to find a steady paycheck in this crazy and wonderful world of hoop.

Play Their Hearts Out: A Coach, His Star Recruit, and the Youth Basketball Machine, George Dohrmann

Dohrmann, a former senior writer at Sports Illustrated and current senior writer and editor at The Athletic, followed the lives of player Demetrius Walker and his coach Joe Keller over the course of several years and the basketball world they both live in. Keller is a coach determined to guide his phenom and Walker is the can’t-miss kid. Both are intertwined in the world of youth basketball where one needs the other to get to the next step. Play Their Hearts Out examines the relationship that forms between a coach and his star and how the benefits of the relationship seemingly determine their lives. This is a great book to get a feel for the youth basketball environment that most top-end kids are playing.

The Last Amateurs: Playing for Glory and Honor in Division I College Basketball, John Feinstein

Prolific author John Feinstein spent a season following the progress of basketball teams of the Patriot League, a low-major NCAA conference which at the time wasn’t offering athletic scholarships. The Last Amateurs tells of the ups and downs of the players, and coaches, where the term student-athlete could have been at its purist embodiment. Through Feinstein you get to ride the buses, feel the pressure of academic deadlines and the energy of the rivalries, along with the occasional crack of dawn workouts at West Point and the Naval Academy. He paints an engaging picture of life in basketball programs far away from lights of the big time and the love that players have to play the game that gave them a chance at an education.

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