The best sports books from a sports broadcaster

Dan Shaughnessy Author Of Wish It Lasted Forever: Life with the Larry Bird Celtics
By Dan Shaughnessy

Who am I?

I have been privileged to cover sports for the Boston Globe for the last 40-plus years. It is the best place in the country to do what I do. New England has tradition, smart readers, historic teams, and a great deal of success, especially in this century. As an author of 14 books, it's nice to bring some sports to the conversation on this site.

I wrote...

Wish It Lasted Forever: Life with the Larry Bird Celtics

By Dan Shaughnessy,

Book cover of Wish It Lasted Forever: Life with the Larry Bird Celtics

What is my book about?

Today the NBA is a vast global franchise—a billion-dollar industry viewed by millions of fans in the United States and abroad. But it wasn’t always this successful. Before primetime ESPN coverage, lucrative branding deals like Air Jordans, and $40 million annual player salaries, there was the NBA of the 1970s and 1980s—when basketball was still an up-and-coming sport featuring old school beat reporters and players wore Converse All-Stars.

Shaughnessy takes us inside the legendary Larry Bird-led Celtics teams, capturing the camaraderie as they rose to dominate the NBA. Fans can witness the cockiness of Larry Bird; the ageless athleticism of Robert Parish; the shooting skills of Kevin McHale; the fierce, self-sacrificing play of Bill Walton; and the playful humor of players like Danny Ainge, Cedric “Cornbread” Maxwell, and M.L. Carr.

The books I picked & why

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Johnny U: The Life and Times of John Unitas

By Tom Callahan,

Book cover of Johnny U: The Life and Times of John Unitas

Why this book?

The veteran scribe grew up in Baltimore and knew Unitas well. This book is worth it just to read what Unitas said to former teammate Johnny Sample when Samply tried to taunt him at the end of Super Bowl III. It's "Diner" meets "North Dallas Forty.'' 

Gods at Play: An Eyewitness Account of Great Moments in American Sports

By Tom Callahan,

Book cover of Gods at Play: An Eyewitness Account of Great Moments in American Sports

Why this book?

The author looks back on 50 years of sportswriting. This is a personal book, rich with stories of the sports gods of the 1960s and 1970s. Callahan was an insider and has stuff on Larry Bird and Muhammad Ali that no one else has. Callahan presents a fascinating earlier time when newspaper beat reporters were valuable to the team's they covered. Cincinnati Royals coach Bob Cousy refused an airline's request to bounce Callahan off a commercial flight, telling the pilot "we fly as a team and he is with us." 

When the Game Was Ours

By Larry Bird, Earvin Magic Johnson, Jackie Macmullan

Book cover of When the Game Was Ours

Why this book?

This is the behind-the-scenes account of the most-watched NCAA Final in television history, and the epic Celtic-Laker clashes of the 1980s. MacMullan had ultimate access and knows the game. In this work, she captures the voices of Magic and Larry throughout giving the reader primary source history on a golden time in the NBA. 

Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times

By Mark Leibovich,

Book cover of Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times

Why this book?

A political writer, Leibovich brings tremendous levity to the ever-serious NFL. The author had good access to Tom Brady and outs Jerry Jones and Bob Kraft for the needy buffoons they are. You will learn and laugh. Jones and Kraft, two of the most powerful owners in the might National Football League, engage in wild and hilarious competition for a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

Season Ticket: A Baseball Companion

By Roger Angell,

Book cover of Season Ticket: A Baseball Companion

Why this book?

Anything by Hall of Fame baseball scribe Roger Angell could be on this list. The author saw Babe Ruth play and was still writing about baseball after turning 100 years old. Feel free to skip ahead and read "Not So Boston,'' the tale of the Red Sox's hideous loss to the Mets in the 1986 World Series.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the NFL, baseball, and MBL?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the NFL, baseball, and MBL.

The NFL Explore 8 books about the NFL
Baseball Explore 74 books about baseball
MBL Explore 11 books about MBL

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like I Promise You: Stand-Alone College Sports Romance, Babe: The Legend Comes to Life, and The Glory of Their Times: The Story of the Early Days of Baseball Told by the Men Who Played It if you like this list.