Hoops & History

This month marks the end of the basketball season (at least for the NBA; if you’re a fan of college bball, you’ve been in withdrawal for over a month). If you aren’t ready for the end, here’s a list of good hoops reads that will extend the season a bit. (Annotations are courtesy of Book Index with Reviews, part of the Lili-D Databases.)


Counting Coup: A True Story of Basketball and Honor on the Little Big Horn by Larry Colton – Profiles a Montana high-school girls’ basketball team–made up of Crow Indians and white girls from a rural town–that carries on its shoulders the dreams and hopes of a Native American tribe during their winning season.

Glory Road: My Story of the 1966 NCAA Basketball Championship and How One Team Triumphed Against the Odds and Changed America Forever by Don Haskins – A basketball coach describes how, in 1966, as coach of Texas Western College, he used a starting lineup of five black players to beat the top-ranked University of Kentucky team, paving the way for desegregation of all Southern college teams.

Let Me Tell You a Story: A Lifetime in the Game by Red Auerbach and John Feinstein – The life story of the famed professional basketball coach documents his seventeen-year tenure with the Boston Celtics, during which the team achieved nine NBA championships; his relationships with such players as Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, and Michael Jordan; and his post-retirement consultation work with top coaches and players.

Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich by Mark Kriegel – Recounts the life and achievements of the troubled 1970s basketball star, from his relationship with his obsessive father and unbroken college scoring record to the personal demons that challenged his life and his evangelical Christian faith.

The Rivalry: Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and the Golden Age of Basketball by John Taylor – Set against the backdrop of professional basketball’s golden age during the 1960s, a study focuses on the rivalry between Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, which came to an epic climax during the 1969 championship.

To Hate Like This Is to Be Happy Forever: A Thoroughly Obsessive, Intermittently Uplifting, and Occasionally Unbiased Account of the Duke-North Carolina Basketball Rivalry by Will Blythe – The story of the rivalry between North Carolina’s and Duke University’s basketball teams discusses the long-term feud between the teams and their fans, citing a long history of race, family, loyalty, privilege, and Southern belief systems.

When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball by Seth Davis – Traces the pivotal ways in which the careers of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird positively influenced the NCAA and the NBA, chronicling the dramatic 1979 NCAA finals and the epic rivalry that rendered college basketball a multi-billion-dollar event.


Blackbird Singing by Jay Amberg – Famous athlete Sky Walker’s world crashes down around him when his nine-year-old daughter Tonya disappears, and a stunned public finds out through an obsessed media that the genius who kidnapped her threatens the whole world.

Fade Away by Harlan Coben -Sports agent Myron Bolitar had once aimed for a career in the NBA, until an injury cost him his chance to go pro, but when the star player for the New Jersey Dragons disappears without a trace, Bolitar takes the undercover assignment of his dreams–a position on the team.

Foul Lines by Jack McCallum – An NBA-inspired tale of Yale senior Jamal Kelly, who lands a job with the Los Angeles Lasers and finds his former life of poverty transformed into a maelstrom of charter flights, high living, and attractive women.

Full Court Press by Mike Lupica – When Dee Gerard signs on as the first woman to play in the NBA, chaos ensues as she tries to play her best game while spoiled young millionaires, personal relationships, and the press wreak havoc on her life.

Homecourt Advantage by Rita Ewing & Crystal McCrary – An insider’s view of professional basketball in a novel about two women and their relationships with two basketball players in the media spotlight.

The House of Moses All Stars by Charley Rosen -When Aaron Steiner, a former college basketball star, falls on bad times during the Depression, he accepts an offer to join an all-Jewish traveling basketball team, confronting the prejudices of the nation that rebuffs it.

The Shake by Jim Patton -The notorious forward of Portland’s professional basketball team, LaPrince Wheatley becomes embroiled in an affair with an underage groupie while high on cocaine at a private party, never expecting that the entire thing had been videotaped, and falls prey to a seedy reporter with a taste for blackmail.

3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Bob Berentz on June 23, 2009 at 8:35 am

    Counting Coup sounds like my type of reading and I will suggest two books “Street Gang” the story of Sesame Street .. and “Carbine and Lance” the story of old Fort Sill. I had to go on the Net and purchase both, Street Gang I will give to the Library in a month when my family is through reading it. I only paid four bucks for the other.


    • Posted by jhills on June 24, 2009 at 9:30 am

      We actually do have Street Gang. I took it home and started it, being part of the first Sesame Street generation and a huge fan, but I had too many other things going, so I didn’t quite finish it. I hope to get back to it again!


    • Posted by Bob Berentz on June 24, 2009 at 11:10 am

      I’m about half way through “Counting Coup” in one day .. can’t put it down. In there it makes reference to the Tenth Cavalry keeping peace with the Crow. I just got through reading a fantastic book about the Tenth Cavalry called “Child of the Fighting Tenth” by Birdie Hooker. I went to college near Ft. Davis, Texas and she was stationed there and one of the young officers that use to ride with her in the evenings went on to be a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.

      Also on Counting Coup .. hear the author at Harvard discussing his book here .. http://forum.wgbh.org/lecture/basketball-and-honor-little-big-horn

      This is a hour and a half “read” on his book. I found it when I did a Google Image search for the author’s name.


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