March Madness is in full swing, and we’re deep into basketball season. But your love of basketball knows no seasons. Sure, you can pick up these books about the history of basketball right now, but these books are a great addition to your TBR any time of the year. Whether you’re a fan of the NBA, the WNBA, college basketball, or all of the above, you’re going to love these books.
Michael William Krzyzewski, nicknamed “Coach K,” was the head basketball coach at Duke University from 1980 to 2022 who led the Blue Devils to five national titles, thirteen Final Fours, fifteen ACC tournament championships, and thirteen ACC regular season titles. In this book, Beyond Basketball, Coach K shares his words of wisdom and what he strived to teach his basketball players about the game of life, both on and off the court. This book is about so much more than basketball. In these short but powerful essays, Coach K offers leadership skills and life lessons that can be applied to people from all walks of life.
Black Ball looks back at the history of the NBA, specifically Black basketball players who shaped pro basketball in the 1970s. As a new generation of Black basketball players—including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Spencer Haywood—entered the league in the 1970s, this cohort was immediately confronted with racism. The press and the public were quick to blame Black basketball players for the decline of the NBA, and pro basketball became a symbol for post-civil rights America. In this book, scholar Theresa Runstedtler explores the history of the game with insightful social analysis to show how, in the face of racist backlash, these players were able to transform the sport for the better.
To be a woman in basketball is to be part of a long, storied history. But it’s a history that is often overlooked and undercelebrated. In Hoop Muses, eight-time WNBA All-Star and three-time Olympic gold medalist Seimone Augustus joins Emmy Award-winning journalist Kate Fagan to explore the fascinating and exciting history of women in basketball. With illustrations by Sophia Chang, this book brings the story of women in basketball to life.
In Dynasties, acclaimed sports journalist Marcus Thompson II names the ten teams that have raised the bar in the sport of basketball, thereby changing the game as we know it forever. Think of the Bulls in the time of Michael Jordan, the Tim Duncan Spurs, the Bill Russell Celtics, and the Steph Curry Warriors. These teams each have their own incredible stories to go along with their unbelievable stats.
The rise of Catholic college basketball is a true David and Goliath story, and John Gasaway is unpacking the whole journey in his book Miracles on the Hardwood. From its small beginnings when Villanova made the Final Four in 1939 to the ascendence of powerhouse teams such as Georgetown, Villanova, and Gonzaga, Miracles on the Hardwood tells these teams’ fascinating stories. Gasaway shares interviews with coaches, players, and fans to uncover the true story behind these universities’ successes.
Star basketball player Giannis Antetokounmpo overcame incredible obstacles to rise to greatness with the Milwaukee Bucks. Now award-winning basketball reporter Mirin Fader is sharing Antetokounmpo’s fascinating backstory in Giannis. Giannis spent his childhood selling trinkets in the streets of Athens, Greece. When he came to America, his status as an undocumented immigrant made his rise to NBA superstardom even more improbable. But Giannis fought his way to the top, transforming himself and the game in the process.
Lydia Reeder’s Dust Bowl Girls is a thrilling true story that reads like A League of their Own meets The Boys in the Boat. During one of the most devastating moments in U.S. history, the Great Depression, Sam Babb dared to dream big, traveling through Oklahoma to find players for his college women’s basketball team, the Cardinals. And at a time when women athletes were criticized for being “unladylike” and unhealthy, the women on Sam Babb’s college basketball team found a true love for the game of basketball and a will to win. Ultimately, this trailblazing team was able to accomplish so much more than just a championship season.
Emily Martin has a PhD in English from the University of Southern Mississippi. She’s a contributing editor at Book Riot and blogs/podcasts at Book Squad Goals.