The most recommended NBA books

Who picked these books? Meet our 15 experts.

15 authors created a book list connected to the NBA, and here are their favorite NBA books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of NBA book?

Loading...

Book cover of Long Shot

Melissa McTernan Author Of Marked for Each Other: The Princess and The Barbarian

From my list on romance in which the heroine saves herself.

Who am I?

I’ve been a voracious reader my entire life, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I discovered romance. How many times had I turned up my nose at those ridiculous books with half-naked men on the cover? Countless. Little did I know the absolute joy those books held inside. I love to read and write romance, especially stories with strong heroines and deliciously squishy-inside heroes. Not to mention all the amazing queer stories out there proving that love is love. These aren’t your grandmother’s bodice-rippers (I mean, they are a little bit, but only in the best ways). The genre is constantly growing, and I’m always eager to find new converts like me!

Melissa's book list on romance in which the heroine saves herself

Melissa McTernan Why did Melissa love this book?

If you like your romance with a side of drama and angst, then Long Shot is for you, my friend. This one is a contemporary sports romance but there is nothing light and fluffy about it. For most of this book, Iris is in and out of an abusive relationship (big content warnings for domestic violence and sexual assault). Our sweet, lovable hero, August supports Iris the best he can from afar but he is not the one to swoop in and save her. And let me tell you, I really wanted him to swoop! Kennedy Ryan puts the reader through the wringer with this one and by the end I was craving a white knight on a white horse kind of moment. But in the end, it’s Iris who saves the day, and it’s so damn satisfying. 

By Kennedy Ryan,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Long Shot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now a Top 30 Amazon Bestseller!A FORBIDDEN LOVE SET IN THE EXPLOSIVE WORLD OF THE NBA...Think you know what it's like being a baller's girl?You don't.My fairy tale is upside down.A happily never after.I kissed the prince and he turned into a fraud.I was a fool, and his love - fool's gold.Now there's a new player in the game, August West.One of the NBA's brightest stars.Fine. Forbidden.He wants me. I want him.But my past, my fraudulent prince, just won't let me go*Contains domestic/sexual abuse not involving the hero. Read reviews for guidance.


Book cover of Boom Town: The Fantastical Saga of Oklahoma City, Its Chaotic Founding... Its Purloined Basketball Team, and the Dream of Becoming a World-class Metropolis

Rachana Vajjhala Author Of Kinetic Cultures: Modernism and Embodiment on the Belle Epoque Stage

From my list on dazzlingly written books from the past five years with both style and substance.

Who am I?

I’m a music historian who loves to read novels. Most of my childhood was spent either playing the piano or devouring whatever books I could get my hands on. Now, I try to share my love of music and good writing with my students at Boston University. When not at school, you can usually find me exploring the trails of New England with my dog.     

Rachana's book list on dazzlingly written books from the past five years with both style and substance

Rachana Vajjhala Why did Rachana love this book?

With keywords like "history of Oklahoma" and "basketball," this book seems an unlikely candidate for one I love.

Sam Anderson’s deftness as a writer, however, makes it a great read, even for a non-sporto coast dweller like me. He interweaves a story of the OKC and the NBA, describing the tension between “boom” and “process” that shaped both. Trust him, trust the process.

By Sam Anderson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Boom Town as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A brilliant, kaleidoscopic narrative of Oklahoma City—a great American story of civics, basketball, and destiny, from award-winning journalist Sam Anderson

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • NPR • Chicago Tribune • San Francisco Chronicle • The Economist • Deadspin

Oklahoma City was born from chaos. It was founded in a bizarre but momentous “Land Run” in 1889, when thousands of people lined up along the borders of Oklahoma Territory and rushed in at noon to stake their claims. Since then, it has been a city torn between the wild…


Book cover of Seeing Red: The Red Auerbach Story

Bill Scheft Author Of Tommy Dash: Was It Everything I Said?

From Bill's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Writer Drummer Widower Urban Wit Sober

Bill's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Bill Scheft Why did Bill love this book?

I was working on a project about the 1980s Boston Celtics and had to read this as one of a dozen books in my research.

Again, I grew up in Boston in the 1960s and '70s and became a sportswriter and thought I knew everything about the iconic Celtics coach and GM Red Auerbach. No. Not even close. Shaughnessy uses his access to Auerbach and his family, friends, and foes for a hilarious, unflinching look at a bygone era….and a bygone bigger-than-life personality.

By Dan Shaughnessy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Seeing Red as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Traces the life of the legendary coach and describes his influence on the NBA, the Boston Celtics, and professional basketball


Book cover of Life on the Run

John D. Marks Author Of The Search for the Manchurian Candidate: The CIA and Mind Control: The Secret History of the Behavioral Sciences

From John's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Social entrepreneur

John's 3 favorite reads in 2023

John D. Marks Why did John love this book?

It was fascinating to read about Bill Bradley’s life as a basketball star at Princeton and with the New York Knicks – before he was elected a US Senator. 

I found him to be an exemplary model on how to achieve excellence. He would have made a great president of the United States.

By Bill Bradley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life on the Run as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Former NBA star, New York Knicks player, and United States senator Bill Bradley's account of twenty days in a pro basketball season remains a classic in the literature of sports, unparalleled in its candor and intelligence.

Bradley takes readers from the court to the locker room, from the seamless teamwork of a winning game to the loneliness of a motel in a strange city. We see Bradley and his fellow Knicks, like Willis Reed, as they withstand the abuse of the press and the smothering adoration of their fans, along with the shameless appeals of those who want to parlay…


Book cover of Moonfixer: The Basketball Journey of Earl Lloyd

Syl Sobel Author Of Boxed Out of the NBA: Remembering the Eastern Professional Basketball League

From my list on the history of African Americans and pro basketball.

Who am I?

When Jay Rosenstein and I started writing Boxed Out of the NBA, we thought we were writing a light collection of mostly humorous anecdotes from old ballplayers about playing in the minor league. But as we interviewed the old Eastern Leaguers and understood how the league gave a home to players who couldn’t make the NBA in large part because of race, we realized we had a much more important and socially significant story. It’s been our privilege to get to know these gentlemen, and feel like they have entrusted us to tell their story. We want to help them get the respect and recognition they deserve while they are still here to appreciate it. 

Syl's book list on the history of African Americans and pro basketball

Syl Sobel Why did Syl love this book?

I was on lunch break one day in 2010 walking through Union Station in DC when I saw a very tall, elderly Black man seated at a table in the B. Dalton bookstore with a stack of books in front of him.

I smiled at him and he back and me, and then the man with him said, “Do you know who this is?” I said no. The man said “It’s Earl Lloyd, the first African American to play in the NBA.” It occurred to me then, as it has many times since, that most Americans know about Jackie Robinson breaking the color line in professional baseball, but until that moment I didn’t know who did the same in basketball.

And it wasn’t until 10 years later, when I finally read the book that Mr. Lloyd graciously signed for me, that I wished I’d talked with him about his remarkable…

By Earl Lloyd, Sean Kirst,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Moonfixer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1950, future Hall of Famer Earl Lloyd became the first African American to play in a National Basketball Association game. Nicknamed ""Moonfixer"" in college, Lloyd led West Virginia State to two CIAA Conference and Tournament Championships and was named All-American twice. One of three African Americans to enter the NBA at that time, Lloyd played for the Washington Capitals, Syracuse Nationals, and Detroit Pistons before he retired in 1961.

Throughout his career, he quietly endured the overwhelming slights and exclusions that went with being black in America. Yet he has also lived to see basketball - a demonstration of…


Book cover of The NBA In Black And White: The Memoir of a Trailblazing NBA Player and Coach

Syl Sobel Author Of Boxed Out of the NBA: Remembering the Eastern Professional Basketball League

From my list on the history of African Americans and pro basketball.

Who am I?

When Jay Rosenstein and I started writing Boxed Out of the NBA, we thought we were writing a light collection of mostly humorous anecdotes from old ballplayers about playing in the minor league. But as we interviewed the old Eastern Leaguers and understood how the league gave a home to players who couldn’t make the NBA in large part because of race, we realized we had a much more important and socially significant story. It’s been our privilege to get to know these gentlemen, and feel like they have entrusted us to tell their story. We want to help them get the respect and recognition they deserve while they are still here to appreciate it. 

Syl's book list on the history of African Americans and pro basketball

Syl Sobel Why did Syl love this book?

Ray Scott is a living bridge from the first generation of Black players in the NBA to the modern NBA that emerged in the 1970s.

Through high school in Philadelphia where he played against Wilt Chamberlain, to college in Portland where he first competed against Elgin Baylor, to his formative professional years in the Eastern League where his contemporaries were the league’s all-time stars like Sherman White, Wally Choice, and Hal “King” Lear, to his early years in the NBA where his mentor was Earl Lloyd, to succeeding Lloyd as an NBA coach and becoming the first African American named NBA Coach of the Year, Scott has soldiered through numerous affronts yet always emerged with grace, dignity, and hope.

“Coach,” as he is called, in this memoir written with prolific basketball writer and former Eastern League player Charley Rosen, demonstrates why he is respected and beloved as both a leader…

By Ray Scott, Charley Rosen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The NBA In Black And White as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A memoir of hard lessons learned in the racially segregated and sometimes outright racist NBA of the early ‘60s by celebrated NBA player and the first Black Coach of the Year, Ray Scott. Introduced by Earl "the Pearl" Monroe.

“There’s a basic insecurity with Black guys my size,” Scott writes. “We can’t hide and everybody turns to stare when we walk down the street. … Whites believe that their culture is superior to African-American culture. ... We don’t accept many of [their] answers, but we have to live with them.”

Ray Scott was part of the early wave of Black…


Book cover of Mycroft and Sherlock: The Empty Birdcage

Naching T. Kassa Author Of Sherlock Holmes and the Arcana of Madness: A Horror Mystery

From my list on extraordinary Sherlock Holmes stories.

Who am I?

As a lifelong Sherlockian, I have always enjoyed writing and reading about Sherlock Holmes. My favorite pastiches are the ones that are most faithful to the characters of Holmes and Watson, even if the story borders on the fantastic. I adore Sherlock Holmes and am a member of the Sound of the Baskervilles, The Sherlock Holmes Society of London, The Crew of the Barque Lone Star, The Beacon Society, The ACD Society, and The John H. Watson Society. I’ve written over 20 published stories about the Great Detective and plan to write many more.

Naching's book list on extraordinary Sherlock Holmes stories

Naching T. Kassa Why did Naching love this book?

You may know Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for his basketball prowess, but did you know he was also an author and admirer of Sherlock Holmes? Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse have created a very entertaining series starring Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes.

In this second book, the Holmes brothers must solve a mystery involving opium and Mycroft’s best friend, Cyrus Douglas. I really enjoyed the backstory presented for both Mycroft and Sherlock, though I have to say that Sherlock was very annoying.

By Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Anna Waterhouse,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mycroft and Sherlock as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The new novel by NBA All-Star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, starring brothers Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes. It is 1873, and as the economies of Europe threaten to crumble, Mycroft Holmes finds himself in service to the Crown once again. A distant relative of Queen Victoria has been slain by the Fire Four Eleven killer, a serial murderer who leaves no mark upon his victims, only a mysterious calling card. Meanwhile, Sherlock has already taken it upon himself to solve the case, as his interest in the criminal mind grows into an obsession.

Mycroft begrudgingly allows Sherlock to investigate, as Ai Lin--the woman…


Book cover of The Miracle of St. Anthony: A Season with Coach Bob Hurley and Basketball's Most Improbable Dynasty

Carl Deuker Author Of Golden Arm

From my list on sports books about more than sports.

Who am I?

For 20 years, I tried to write politically relevant, “important” novels. I teach. One day I told my students that to succeed as a writer, they needed to write about things they knew and loved. Honesty was the key. That night, I resumed work on a novel set in Prague involving Cold War intrigue, capitalism, communism, and some other "isms" I’ve forgotten. I wrote a paragraph and then stopped. My advice was good. Write about things you know and love. So why not follow it myself? What section of the newspaper did I read first? The sports page. Did I live and die with my favorite sports teams? Yes. I put my hopeless Prague novel aside and started On the Devil’s Court. For better or worse, a sportswriter is who I am.

Carl's book list on sports books about more than sports

Carl Deuker Why did Carl love this book?

Jersey City hoops this time, but Wojnarowski’s book details the dedication of Bob Hurley (father of Duke star and NBA player Bobby Hurley) who is the head coach at a small Catholic school in Jersey City. Under his leadership, this tiny school wins championship after championship. For Hurley, the championships are a sidebar. His focus is on the players as human beings. He knows them--where they came from, where they are, where they could be headed--good and bad. Tough love at its best. A remarkable book about a remarkable man. The flip side of The Last Shot.

By Adrian Wojnarowski,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Miracle of St. Anthony as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a city mired in endless decay, where the youth suffer through all the horrors of urban blight, hope comes in a most unassuming form: a tiny brick schoolhouse run by two Felician nuns where a singular basketball genius takes teenagers from the mean streets of Jersey City and turns them into champions on the hardcourt. Coach Bob Hurley had been working miracles at St. Anthony High School for over thirty years, winning state and national championships and offering his players rescue from their surroundings through college scholarships, when he met his most dysfunctional team yet. In The Miracle of…


Book cover of A Sense of Where You Are: Bill Bradley at Princeton

Michael D'Orso Author Of Eagle Blue: A Team, a Tribe, and a High School Basketball Season in Arctic Alaska

From my list on capturing the cultural aspects of basketball.

Who am I?

I’m a narrative nonfiction writer whose subjects range from politics to professional football, from racial conflict to environmental destruction, from inner-city public education to social justice to spinal cord injury. The settings for my books range from the Galapagos Islands to the swamps of rural Florida, to Arctic Alaska. I typically live with and among my subjects for months at a time, portraying their lives in an intimately personal way.

Michael's book list on capturing the cultural aspects of basketball

Michael D'Orso Why did Michael love this book?

Bill Bradley was as far from a typical college and NBA superstar as can possibly be imagined. He was 6’5” but could barely dunk. In a race between the tortoise and the hare, he would be the tortoise. Yet, with an uncanny set of shooting, passing, and rebounding skills, he became the nation’s top high school prospect, with more than 70 colleges, including every powerhouse in the sport, offering him a scholarship. Instead, he chose to play at lowly Princeton, in one of the game’s weakest conferences—the Ivy League—where he averaged more than 30 points a game over the course of his career, becoming a two-time first-team All-American and, in his senior season, national player of the year, leading the Tigers to the 1965 NCAA tournament’s Final Four, in which he scored an unheard of 58 points against Wichita State and was named the tournament’s MVP—the only player to this…

By John McPhee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Sense of Where You Are as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first book from the legendary New Yorker writer John McPhee, tells about Bill Bradley when he was the best basketball player Princeton had ever seen.

When John McPhee met Bill Bradley, both were at the beginning of their careers. In A Sense of Where You Are,
McPhee delineates for the reader the training and techniques that made Bradley the extraordinary athlete he was, and this part of the book is a blueprint of superlative basketball. But athletic prowess alone would not explain Bradley's magnetism, which is in the quality of the man himself—his self-discipline, his rationality, and his sense…


Book cover of Go Up for Glory

Matthew A. Werner Author Of Season of Upsets: Farm boys, city kids, Hoosier basketball and the dawn of the 1950s

From my list on more than just sports books.

Who am I?

I’m a storyteller and jack of all trades who grew up on a family farm in Indiana. I can operate a combine, analyze data, or edit a book. Writing about sports can create great stories, but the true beauty lies in the people and circumstances, not the stats and game highlights. Most of my works are nonfiction—personal interest, sports, history, and sports history. I enjoy unearthing untold stories, especially when they involve equal rights, underdogs, hidden history, and non-famous people. Everyone has a story to tell.

Matthew's book list on more than just sports books

Matthew A. Werner Why did Matthew love this book?

An 11-time NBA champion, Bill Russell revealed the insecurity of being a super tall, lanky, Black man that can’t avoid notice. He wrote honestly about racism and civil rights in America. He mentioned great Celtics players and described the NBA’s early days. His description of the physical demands of traveling and playing so many games made me realize his job was hard work. Read it just to find the passage where Russel describes—better than any writer ever has—that rare, amazing feeling you get when teammates are in sync, everything is clicking, and a team plays at its peak.

By Bill Russell, William Mcsweeny,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Go Up for Glory as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Back in print for the first time in decades, Go Up for Glory is the classic 1968 basketball memoir by NBA legend Bill Russell, with a new foreword from the author.

From NBA legend Bill Russell, Go Up for Glory is a basketball memoir that transcends time. First published in 1965, this narrative traces Russell's childhood in segregated America and details the challenges he faced as a Black man, even when he was a celebrated NBA star. And while some progress has been made, this book serves as an urgent reminder of how far we still have to go in…