As the one-month mark of self-isolation comes and goes, The Red & Black brings a list of sports books that will put you right in the middle of the action with descriptive power so true, you won’t be able to tell it’s not live.
“Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made” (2012)
“Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made” is the ultimate guide into the life and career of Michael Jordan. Written by famed journalist David Halberstam, it details Michael Jordan’s basketball journey from Laney High School in Wilmington, North Carolina, to the final shot of the 1998 NBA Finals, touching on other subjects like Phil Jackson’s route to becoming the Chicago Bulls head coach, and insight on the careers of Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman. Halberstam’s book reads like a personal diary, not only capturing the essence of Jordan, but how the NBA grew as a league and how it had to adjust because of him. This is a must read for any basketball fanatic.
“Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” (2003)
“Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” opened the world to the new age of baseball. The book is written by Michael Lewis and tells the story of how Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, used analytical strategies to construct a roster with a comparatively smaller budget. Lewis uses a keen wit to illustrate the business of baseball, while presenting the information in a way that the most naive of sports fans can comprehend and enjoy.
“Ghosts of Manila: The Fateful Blood Feud Between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier” (2001)
You did not have to be alive during this time to understand the levels of intensity and fury that came from an Ali-Frazier fight. “Ghosts of Manila: The Fateful Blood Feud Between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier” is written by Mark Kram, who covered Muhammed Ali for Sports Illustrated. The book delivers a poetic retelling of the infamous rivalry between Ali and Frazier. The book is full of first-hand accounts from Kram, writing not just about the fights, but also the fighters. This book provides an exceptional dive into the physical and mental war being fought in and out of the ring between Ali and Frazier.
“Bringing the Heat” (1994)
Written by the award-winning journalist and former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Mark Bowden, “Bringing the Heat” tells the story of the 1992 Philadelphia Eagles in their quest for a championship. He writes the book as an ode to former head coach Buddy Ryan, for whom the ’92 Eagles used as the model for their roster because of his innovative brand of defense and personal connection to the team. Bowden, with a comedic and informative tone, also gives the reader an unclouded view of the NFL, in all of its beauty and flaws as he writes of a team’s struggle for greatness. This is an absolute staple among football books.
“The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy” (2009)
A known Boston sports fanatic and one of the most opinionated voices in the world of sports, Bill Simmons, delivers to the world a personal time machine ride into the NBA. From cover to cover, “The Book of Basketball” is full of topics that range from debating the greatness of Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, to his own affectionate ideas on how to improve the NBA. Simmons blends his love of basketball with pop culture references that speak directly to fans. This book brings an unapologetic, wildly entertaining view of the world of basketball through the lens of the Sports Guy that even the crudest of Celtic haters won’t be able to resist.