We’ve got 5 more important books to note as summer winds down. There are still many more worthy efforts that we’ll discuss in the months ahead. One reader reminded us of STUFF: GOOD PLAYERS SHOULD KNOW by Dick Devenzio-a casual piece which speaks to players directly and should be on every player’s radar.
TAKING SHOTS: TALL TALES, BIZARRE BATTLES AND THE INCREDIBLE TRUTH ABOUT THE NBA, by Keith Glass. This is a very unusual book because the author is an NBA agent. So, the viewpoint is not your everyday variety as agents generally only want to be outspoken behind closed doors.. The book jacket summarizes far better than I could, “In his insightful, funny and often mind-numbingly bizarre tales of life in the NBA over the last twenty-five years, Keith Glass lets it fly from half-court. He’ll tell you how we got to the present state-where an agent who makes millions off the game can’t sit through one. “
THE ART OF A BEAUTIFUL GAME: THE THINKING FAN’S TOUR OF THE NBA, by Chris Ballard. This gem is a totally opposite perspective of the NBA than the previously discussed TAKING SHOTS. The promo for the book includes this biased but accurate description, “An inveterate hoops junkie who played some college ball, Ballard sits down with the NBA’s most passionate, cerebral players to find out their tricks of the trade and to learn what drives them, taking readers away from the usual sports talk radio fodder and deep into the heart of the game.”
MAKING IT TO #1: HOW COLLEGE FOOTBALL AND BASKETBALL TEAMS GET THERE, by Jim Benagh. One of the earliest books that systematically and intelligently deals with the excesses of big time college recruiting in the late 60’s through the 70’s, Benagh’s book is a bit dated but serves as an appropriate timeline bridge to the next book on the list, RAW RECRUITS. Reading these two books back to back will give one an excellent 25 year overview of how every recruiting era has its own unique quirks but in the end how very similar the eras are.
RAW RECRUITS, by Alexander Wolff and Armen Keteyian. This 1990 chronicle basically picks up on the Benagh story into the end of the 80’s. This history includes the infamous Kentucky Fed Ex story. The names change but for the most part, the types of players, coaches and middle-men who violate NCAA recruiting rules, are the same. Both books are fascinating glimpses into the side of recruiting that your average high school coach, player and parent rarely sees.
FALL RIVER DREAMS: A TEAM’S QUEST FOR GLORY-A TOWN’s SEARCH FOR IT SOUL, by Bill Reynolds. If you haven’t heard the story of Chris Herren of Fall River, Massachusetts, you’re in for quite a treat. In the best of ways, this classic is as much about a town, its people, history and culture, as it is about high school basketball and a highly recruited but fragile, troubled superstar.