Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Reading is Fundamental – Basketball Edition

With summer just around the corner, we’re all looking for a good book to read, be it on the beach, at the pool or on the back deck.

There are plenty of great (or very good) sports books out there for Cleveland fans, specifically, and sports fans in general. Here are some basketball books worth checking out; most should be familiar to Cleveland fans, some may not be. Some may no longer be in print, but if you can find a copy it will be well worth your time:

  • Loose Balls: The Short, Wild Life of the American Basketball Association, by Terry Pluto. Simply one of the best books I’ve ever read. For anyone (like me) not old enough to remember the ABA, the stories from the players and coaches who built the league are unforgettable.
  • Tall Tales: The Glory Years of the NBA, by Terry Pluto. A companion piece to Loose Balls, Tall Tales tells the story of the NBA, from its birth up to the early 1970s. The stories are not quite as entertaining as those in Loose Balls, but they are just as important in learning about the growth of the game.
  • Foul: The Connie Hawkins Story, by David Wolf. I first read this when I was in high school and I had no idea who Hawkins was. His story of rising out of poverty in New York City and the scandal that wrongly led to the NBA blackballing him during his best years is gripping.
  • The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy, by Bill Simmons. While its a bit long at 736 pages and overly biased toward Boston players, go figure, this is an excellent book for fans of the game. And the way the book is organized its easy to pick it up, read a bit, and put it back down for later without losing anything.
  • Operation Yao Ming: The Chinese Sports Empire, American Big Business and the Makign of an NBA Superstar, by Brook Larmer. The story behind the Chinese government’s plan to create the next NBA superstar.Everything about Ming, from birth to first endorsement deal, was planned by a confluence of government and business interests intent on creating a superstar.
  • The Fab Five: Basketball, Trash Talk and the American Dream, by Mitch Albom. The remarkable story of Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson, and their successes and failures in the NCAA tournaments of 1992 and 1993. Has it really been almost 20 years since they came on the scene? Good lord, I feel old.
  • Forty-Eight Minutes: A Night in the Life of the NBA, by Terry Pluto and Bob Ryan. Forty-Eight minutes is the story of the Jan. 16, 1987, game between the Cavs and Celtics, told in minute-by-minute detail with insights from the players and coaches involved in the game.
  • The Jordan Rules: The Inside Story of a Turbulent Season with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, by Sam Smith. A behind-the-scenes look at the 1991 Chicago Bulls.
  • Cavs: From Fitch to Fratello, by Joe Menzer and Burt Graeff. Published on the team’s 25th anniversary, this book chronicles the Cavs from their early days at the Cleveland Arena, the glory years of the Coliseum era and the move back downtown.

If you do decide to check one of these out, you won’t be disappointed. And remember to shop at your local bookstore. If you don’t have one in your area and are in the Hudson area, it’s worth a stop at The Learned Owl.

I’ll follow up over the next few days with recommendations on football, baseball, soccer and sports in general.


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