Best Basketball Biographies (The Very Best Options Out There!)

Last Updated on April 19, 2021 by Daniel Cuttridge

Basketball is a classic game with a lot of superstars, legends, coaches, and icons. You might want to find out the written history of a basketball player’s life and the best place to find that is through the player’s biography. So, if you’re in search of a biography written about your favorite basketball players, then you’re at the right place. We’ve composed a list of the best basketball biographies which cover basketball playing, coaching, and life in general, and any other things related to the game of basketball. We’re so sure that you’ll come across what you’re looking for in our list of the best basketball biographies. 

Best Basketball Biographies – Comparison Chart 

The table is a comparison chart of the best basketball biographies on our list. 

Best Basketball Biographies Reasons For PickSynopsis Author About The Author
THE BREAKS OF THE GAMEBest PickThis book focuses on the late 1970s Portland Trail Blazer squads that came after the great team that claimed a title behind Bill Walton. David HalberstamThe author of this book is David Halberstam, who is an American writer, historian, and journalist. Halberstam was known for his remarkable work on sports journalism, politics, business, the Civil Rights Movement, media, the Vietnam War, and American culture.
THE JORDAN RULESBest BuyThe Chicago Bulls’ first championship season in 1991 is the axis of this book. In this year, we all witnessed a legendary loser, Michael Jordan at his most ornery.Sam SmithSam Smith is an American writer who finished his studies at Ball State University and Pace University. For about twenty-eight years, Smith worked as a columnist and reporter for the Chicago Tribune and currently work for the Bulls as a writer on their official website
The LAST SHOT: CITY STREETS, BASKETBALL DREAMSBest For Street BasketballThis book has a lot of in-depths and details about a group of high school players with talents that looked like it was enough to take them to stardom but also close enough to home to watch it all go down the mud.Darcy FreyHailing from New York City, Darcy Frey is an American writer and educator. In 1994, he published his book – The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams, which won numerous awards and also inspired a movie. Furthermore, he’s notable for his published articles in The New York Times Magazine, New England Monthly, Harper’s, and Rolling Stone.
THE LAST SEASONBest Write-upThe Last Season might not seem to be the best of Jackson’s list of books, but it holds more appeal to a lot of people including us. You’ll still find the Sacred Hoops, Mind Games, and the newest Eleven Rings. If you’re talking about the real super team in the recent decades, apart from the Celtics in 2008, the Heat of 2010 and the Lakers of 2012, a quartet of Kobe, Shaq, Malone, and Payton in 2003/04 was the real super team.Philip Douglas JacksonThe Last Season was written by Philip Douglas Jackson, an American former professional basketball player, coach, and executive on the National Basketball Association. Jackson was a power forward, and he played 12 seasons in the NBA, ranking up NBA championships with the New York Knicks in 1970 and 1973
FALL RIVER DREAMSBestsellingFall River Dreams was written about a small-town team that cane together with a dedicated and enthusiastic fanbase in a quest to win a championship.Bill ReynoldsBill Reynolds is the author of the Fall River Dreams, an American award-winning columnist for the Providence Journal and he’s also the co-author of the New York Times bestseller of “Success is a Choice”. Besides, Reynolds is known for he’s masterclass writing in ’78 and Cousy
PISTOLBest Epicit takes a good in-depth and detail of the legacy of Pistol Pete with his father’s incredible lifestyle.Mark KriegelMark Kriegel is an American author, journalist, and television commentator
THE MIRACLE OF ST. ANTHONYMost InterestingIt entails Bob Hurley, the legendary coach of the St. Anthony, who regarded as a psycho, a commanding and relentless coachAdrian WojnarowskiAdrian Wojnarowski is the author of The Miracle of St. Anthony. He’s an American sports columnist, author, and reporter. Also, he’s an NBA insider for ESPN, who was noted for covering the NBA for Yahoo! Sports.
A SEASON ON THE BRINKBest CharacterThis book was centered on the 1985-86 Hoosier season just before the last national championship of the Indiana. Bobby Knight’s crazed tactics is the most intriguing parts of this book.John FeinsteinJohn Feinstein is an American sportswriter, sports commentator, and author. The major character of this book is Bobby Knight, the former Indiana Head Coach.
FAB FIVE Most PopularIt was written about an innovative era such as the Fab Five’s time in college. Beginning right from the start, Albom details precisely how each kid wound up at MichiganMitchell David AlbomMitchell David Albom is an American author, musician, and journalist. Album have successfully sold over 39 million copies worldwide, and also received national recognition for sports writing in his early career.
LOOSE BALLS: THE SHORT, WILD LIFE OF THE AMERICAN BASKETBALL ASSOCIATIONUnique Write-upThe content of this book were gotten directly from the mouths of those who lived the wild life of American Basketball, meaning that you’re getting undiluted and unmixed details and information. Terry PlutoPluto is an American sportswriter, author, and newspaper columnist who formerly works the Akron Beacon Journal in Cleveland, Ohio religion and sports and presently for The Plain Dealer.
HEAVEN IS A PLAYGROUNDBest ClassicThis Telendar’s book that centered on a 1970s summer in New York City is an ideal option if you’re in search of biography that’s solely centered on the gameRick TelanderHe works for the Chicago Sun-Times as a senior sports columnist after serving as a senior writer in Sports Illustrated in 1995.
THE BOOK OF BASKETBALL: THE NBA ACCORDING TO THE SPORTS GUYBest DetailsThis book carries the traditional Boston bias, but it wasn’t  at any point in the book a negative. William John Simmons IIIWilliam John Simmons III is an American podcaster, sports analyst, and former sports writer who established and manages the sports and pop culture website The Ringer

Best Basketball Biographies Reviews 

After extensive research, we’ve selected 12 best basketball biographies for review. Let’s check them out! 

1. Best Pick: THE BREAKS OF THE GAME

The author of this book is David Halberstam, who is an American writer, historian, and journalist. Halberstam was known for his remarkable work on sports journalism, politics, business, the Civil Rights Movement, media, the Vietnam War, and American culture. Halberstam was literally a beast when it comes to sport writing and he made this list twice. Most readers applauded and praised him for his excellent works with high level of research and detail. We’ve seen David bombed the intimate details with a vicious enthusiasm when he focused on the late 1970s Portland Trail Blazer squads that came after the great team that claimed a title behind Bill Walton. The themes within the biography still remain relevant today even if younger cats will find it difficult to recognize many of the names. To be honest, not much has been modified in the NBA at its core. 

However, the superstar quality of The Jordan Rules was omitted from the book. Although Walton was heavily involved in the book as the most accomplished player. What we loved about the book is that it doesn’t concentrate too much on a single player, however, all of the characters, no matter how small or big they are, were given opportunities to give account of their stories. When you check the conclusion of the book, you’ll realize that it was composed of three-dimensional people. If you really want a definitive guide to what the NBA is all about, then this book is all you need. Overall, the book is a whole package which contains enough small subplots about the sports of basketball and all its major issues in the United States. 

2. Best Buy: THE JORDAN RULES

The Jordan Rules by Sam Smith picks the second spot on our list. Sam Smith is an American writer who finished his studies at Ball State University and Pace University. For about twenty-eight years, Smith worked as a columnist and reporter for the Chicago Tribune and currently works for the Bulls as a writer on their official website.  For a while now, people who read his books say he always markets himself as a tabloid writer, while some say a lot about his writing style. But whatever it is you think about Smith, his outstanding work on this book delivers so much inside detail that’s outclass. The Chicago Bulls’ first championship season in 1991 is the axis of this book. In this year, we all witnessed a legendary loser, Michael Jordan at his most ornery. In this book, you’ll also find all the details of the unprecedented celebrity of Jordan and all the time it took the Bulls to become a title-winning team. 

This biography by Smith was widespread because it leaked some secret inside information to the world like how Detroit told MJ and Chicago about the psychological warfare which entails not considering certain people late in games. We were told in the book that he was threatened physically by Bill Cartwright. Furthermore, we read about the intricacies and jealousies of the ownership of Chicago Bulls team and entire team. We were all able to see the internal strife that would later break down the team on the way to their first ever title. 

Throughout every pages of this book, you’ll never find a boring or dulling moment that doesn’t deliver interesting insight into all the players involved. It is just well written with a lot of wild deeds and proclamation. 

3. Best For Street Basketball: THE LAST SHOT: CITY STREETS, BASKETBALL DREAMS

Hailing from New York City, Darcy Frey is an American writer and educator. In 1994, he published his book – The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams, which won numerous awards and also inspired a movie. Furthermore, he’s notable for his published articles in The New York Times Magazine, New England Monthly, Harper’s, and Rolling Stone. The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams has a lot of in-depth and details about a group of high school players with talents that looked like it was enough to take them to stardom but also close enough to home to watch it all go down the mud. The “home” in this context is Coney Island, New York, and the writer had almost all his time digging deep into mysteries about three high school seniors who want to conquer the SATs and the streets. These three young players have different redeeming qualities – one is humble and modest, the second is a comedian, and the last one has some outstanding work ethic. 

These kids faced some great hardships despite their likable personalities. As young kids, their way to stardom was complicated by lack of support, money, drugs, and limited education, apart from the fact that the country doesn’t really care about the people living in the inner city. What we found very pleasing in this book was the inclusion of a middle-school-aged Stephon Marbury. Marbury’s boldness is impressive even if the book wasn’t centered on him. We appreciated the fact that Frey added a scene in the book where he and the young Marbury went through a McDonald’s drive-thru. He was recorded in the book as a funny moment as Marbury ordered enough food for three or four people and wanted Frey to pay for it all. Frey also noted how Marbury used to brag about the recognition and benefits he’ll get from any school he attends. 

4. Best Write-Up: THE LAST SEASON

The Last Season was written by Philip Douglas Jackson, an American former professional basketball player, coach, and executive on the National Basketball Association. Jackson was a power forward, and he played 12 seasons in the NBA, ranking up NBA championships with the New York Knicks in 1970 and 1973. The Last Season might not seem to be the best of Jackson’s list of books, but it holds more appeal to a lot of people including us. You’ll still find the Sacred Hoops, Mind Games, and the newest Eleven Rings. If you’re talking about the real super team in the recent decades, apart from the Celtics in 2008, the Heat of 2010 and the Lakers of 2012, a quartet of Kobe, Shaq, Malone, and Payton in 2003/04 was the real super team. 

We were surprised to find out that Malone could get serious injury after being a straight iron man for nearly twenty years, and no one was expecting Payton’s retirement from the game. Normally, the team is supposed to claim the title quite easily but Jackson got himself into the middle of the Bryant/O’Neal beef that exploded sporadically. You will find in this book the infamous comments that Zen made about the Mamba, which we were expecting to tear them apart. But surprisingly, they went over the nasty comments, patched it up, and got back together. 

5. Bestselling: FALL RIVER DREAMS

Bill Reynolds is the author of the Fall River Dreams, an American award-winning columnist for the Providence Journal and he’s also the co-author of the New York Times bestseller of “Success is a Choice”. Besides, Reynolds is known for his masterclass writing in ’78 and Cousy. The Fall River Dreams has so much “inside access” and it’s quite unique from other basketball biographies with bored cliches you’ve been reading and hearing about for the last two decades. Honestly, it’s a different book! This book was not written like the normal storyline that’s littered Hollywood with regular films. Fall River Dreams was written about a small-town team that cane together with a dedicated and enthusiastic fanbase in a quest to win a championship. The player/coach dynamic makes this book the anti-Varsity Blues. 

What you’ll majorly find in this book is a future NBA player/druggie and high school stud, Chris Herren, leading a group of players to thwart the authority if the head coach. Reading this book, you’ll find yourself hating on the players rather than the rude coach, and then thinking that the whole story would turn around, so that the players would get back on tract. We must say, Fall River Dreams is a depressing tale considering what we read and what some other readers said, but all-round you’ll find this book interesting if you’re looking for a book that gives a unique look into high school basketball in Eastern Massachusetts. 

6. Best Epic: PISTOL

The next on our list is the Pistol by Mark Kriegel, an American author, journalist, and television commentator. This book was released a few years back, and it takes a good in-depth and detail of the legacy of Pistol Pete with his father’s incredible lifestyle. If there’s any reason why “Foul!” is on this list, then “Pistol” should pick a good spot. This book is centered on Pete Maravich’s life, mentioning some basics about his crummy upbringing and then a lot about his NBA life where he became a sort of tragic who always gets injured. You’ll get to know not only Pistol’s playing abilities as a showman but also his shortcomings as a human and teammate. 

We read about Pistol’s college years and how “Showtime” begun, where he was really a floppy-socked player with a lot of magic and enthusiasm. Although you’ll be surprised to find out that the book was not entirely written about Pistol and his journey to becoming the greatest showman after Buffalo Bill. Pistol’s family history was outlined in the book, also noting where Pete’s father and the Press was initiated to basketball. If you want a book that entails a psychiatric look into a father to son relationship, then Pistol is the right book to get. 

7. Most Interesting: THE MIRACLE OF ST. ANTHONY

Adrian Wojnarowski is the author of The Miracle of St. Anthony. He’s an American sports columnist, author, and reporter. Also, he’s an NBA insider for ESPN, who was noted for covering the NBA for Yahoo! Sports. This book is one of the most interesting biographies on our list. It entails Bob Hurley, the legendary coach of the St. Anthony, who regarded as a psycho, a commanding and relentless coach. The writer was able to get an unparalleled and unlimited access to question and relate with the legendary coach and his dysfunctional 2004 roster at the tiny New Jersey school.

 He was a kind of coach that drives his players crazy but also his players always knew where he stood and where his mind and heart was at. Hurley even gets his kids into the game of basketball and they respect, adore, and fear him not because he was their father but mainly because he was their coach. Hurley is one of those basketball coaches that players described as a father figure in a coach. He was more than just a coach to his players and entire team, Hurley was a friend, teacher, motivator, idol, father, mother, and many more. The Miracle of St. Anthony was written mainly about Bob Hurley and the short stories of his best players. 

8. Best Character: A SEASON ON THE BRINK

A Season On The Brink was written by John Feinstein, an American sportswriter, sports commentator, and author. The major character of this book is Bobby Knight, the former Indiana Head Coach. He made up for a very great character especially at the point where he was about to win a championship. This book was centered on the 1985-86 Hoosier season just before the last national championship of Indiana. Bobby Knight’s crazed tactics are the most intriguing parts of this book. You will be surprised to find out that Feinstein had written this book about 25 years ago, but all the details and event in the book makes it looks like it all happened last night. Also, you find this book quite funny too, as the coach sometimes acts like an idiot, verbally chastening his players and physically putting courage and toughness in them. 

If you want those unique books that take you into the huddles and team meetings, then “A Season On The Brink” is an ideal option for you. This book ranks as one of the bestselling sports books ever, thanks to the coaching lifestyle of Bobby Knight. Though some of Knight’s tactics might be funny, his coaching ability surprised almost every basketball lover. 

9. Most Popular: FAB FIVE 

The Fab Five biography was written by Mitchell David Albom, an American author, musician, and journalist. Album has successfully sold over 39 million copies worldwide, and also received national recognition for sports writing in his early career. Jalen Rose has never ever been about mincing words. The statement – produced when the freshmen had been very busy taking over summer pickup games at Michigan – set the tone at Ann Arbor, and also in this particular guide. Fitting that such an excellent writer as Albom will find himself writing about an innovative era such as the Fab Five’s time in college. Beginning right from the start, Albom details precisely how each kid wound up at Michigan. Thinking about how each year that we extend more away from this unprecedented collection of talent, the greater the mystique driving them expands as well as the more this comprehensive account is required. It is incredible to check out the book once again, since this particular team laid the blueprints – way, recruiting, attitude, superstars teaming up – for the present status of the game.

10. Unique Write-Up: LOOSE BALLS: THE SHORT, WILDLIFE OF THE AMERICAN BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION

About the author, Terry Pluto is an American sportswriter, author, and newspaper columnist who formerly works the Akron Beacon Journal in Cleveland, Ohio religion and sports and presently for The Plain Dealer. If you’re in search of something unique, go for the Loose Balls. The content in this book is explained and narrated properly and also clearly different from anything else you’ll find out there on the market. The content of this book was gotten directly from the mouths of those who lived it, meaning that you’re getting undiluted and unmixed details and information. 

11. Best Classic: HEAVEN IS A PLAYGROUND

Rick Telander wrote and authored the “Heaven Is A Playground”. He works for the Chicago Sun-Times as a senior sports columnist after serving as a senior writer in Sports Illustrated in 1995. He was majorly employed there at the newspaper to counter the stable of sports columnists that the Chicago Tribune was contending with. This Telendar’s book that centered on a 1970s summer in New York City is an ideal option if you’re in search of biography that’s solely centered on the game. This book became very popular for its focus on the childlike innocence of basketball itself, dashing away from how the normal books focus on memorable teams, legends, and icons. We loved that street niggas who love basketball would find this book pleasing since the writer focuses more on the essence of the streets and made use of the playground and street talks and slang. This book never widens the scope, making it completely different from other books that are majorly clouded with too much research. 

We hated the fact that the playground idea has been written about even more clear and extensively to the extent that you’ll find the book outdated, foregoing the fact that it was groundbreaking when it was originally written and published in 1976. 

12. Best Details: THE BOOK OF BASKETBALL: THE NBA ACCORDING TO THE SPORTS GUY

The Book Of Basketball was written and authored by William John Simmons III, an American podcaster, sports analyst, and former sports writer who established and manages the sports and pop culture website The Ringer. A lot of people who have read this book have left a good number of positive reviews about how they got an insane number of information and details about the history sportswriter including a list of the legendary players spanning more than 300 pages. This book is ideally suited for people looking for an interesting book that never loses its luster and always get them thinking. Surely, you shouldn’t be surprised that this book carries the traditional Boston bias, but it wasn’t  at any point in the book a negative. We know that Simmons as a writer has some haters for a variety of reasons but who would ever hate on this Simmons after reading this piece? Just what you need in a book – enough information, much insight, and details are all offered here! 

Things To Consider Before Buying The Best Basketball Biographies

Generally, a biography is a very rich genre of books that offer detailed information about an individual’s life by reading it. Paradoxically, the more specific a thing is, the more usually it is able to be utilized, as well as when a number of figures lived a really unique and far more epic lifetime than yours, sticking to the contours of the story of theirs can easily grant you lots of insight in ones own. But wouldn’t you be confused to find out that there are different options for that particular person’s biography out there? 

Truthfully, there are about 15,000 books written about the lifestyle of Abraham Lincoln, making it the second most books written about a person apart from our Lord Jesus Christ. There are plenty of other figures having bibliographical files getting to the thousands, and countless other personalities with lesser historical significance have hundreds of biographies written about them too. Coming to the game of basketball, a lot of writers authors different books on the same superstars and legends. These kinds of figures will make selecting the best basketball biographies a little bit challenging and time-consuming. That’s where our buying guide comes in! Our buying guide contains the factors to consider before making a buying decision on your best basketball biographies on the market. 

Time Period And Publishing Date 

A new biography is always likely to be published every decade or two if the biographee was extremely prominent. Mostly, each biography delivers a very unique reading experience and can be published on can be published in 1950, 1960, 1970, and 1990. Let’s take, for example, there’s a different angle of which the biography of Thomas Jefferson from the 1950s was seen in the published from the last decade. The way different writers approach their subjects and how the author views the reason for the biography is one of the main differences between newer and older biographies.  

Read Multiple First Chapter 

This is another thing to consider before buying your preferred basketball biography. Reading the first chapter of a number of books is the best way to differentiate numerous biographies on the same biographee. Certainly, you’ll get the author’s general thesis of the biographee and a feeling of writing style.   

Read Reviews 

Before making a buying decision, you should read both average customer reviews and critics. To be honest, reviewers on Amazon are quite weird as they get oddly personal or just review products or leave a one-word summary of their impressions. Not good enough! We recommend you check for reviews on Goodreads because they tend to be more clear, precise, and accurate, and people who drop those reviews are quite avid readers with honest reviews. 

Conclusion – Wrapping It Up! 

The bottom line is that there are thousands of writers publishing different books in the same basketball superstar or legend, making it a bit difficult to get the best basketball biography out there on the market. Make use of our buyer’s guide which contains the factors you need to consider. With the help of this review, we hope you were able to know the best basketball biographies on the market today. Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or comments. Thanks! 

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