5 Basketball Books That I Absolutely Love

In a hurry? My choice for the best basketball book is The Mamba Mentality: How I Play (Kobe Bryant).

With such a rich history, basketball is a sport that has endless stories to tell. From how the game has started to how the game is played today, I am always amazed by how many books about basketball that I can read. My favorites are the ones that document the lives of the greatest players who have played the game that we all love. They have influenced our culture and have shaped our everyday lives.

In this article, I’ll review the following good basketball books:


Early biographical writings focus on specific persons and their historical importance to us. These days, biographies have moved to multimedia platforms and are more engaging in telling a compelling story than traditional written literature. Even with the advent of technology and modern ways of documenting athletes’ biographies, many of us basketball fans still prefer reading a good book over a cup of coffee. There are so many choices for us. From Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, their paths to success and the accolades they have accumulated paved the way for more interesting life and career stories of Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Stephen Curry.

I have read several athlete’s biographies and have narrowed down the choices in this article based on the best books on basketball players that I have read. You can be assured that the recommendations here are worth your time and money. If you are buying the book as a gift for a basketball player or basketball fan, then I am quite certain that they won’t be able to thank you enough for the thoughtful present. Depending on their age and the basketball team that they are rooting for, I have listed the best options in this review that you will not regret purchasing.

With the passing of Kobe Bryant on January 26, 2020, the interest around his life and career has skyrocketed. Netflix also did a good job in reviving the hype around Michael Jordan and the golden era of the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s. All these contributed to the increase in awareness and interest in the career success stories of professional basketball players.

Inspirational Reading

Different people have different motivations for reading books. For basketball lovers like us, the desire to motivate ourselves through reading inspirational sports success stories will serve as added motivation to strive harder and reach our basketball dreams. Be it in the NCAA or NBA, we have so many success stories of basketball players who have moved up in the society because of their income derived from playing the sports. Basketball is a huge industry and many people will derive motivation on the fact that being successful in basketball translates to huge monetary gain.

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Basketball coaches and their techniques are also very inspiring and motivating to read. From Tex Winter’s perfection of the triangle offense to Vance Walberg’s dribble drive offense, the technical aspect of basketball play execution is something that is not limited to the hardwood court but is something that we can also apply even to the corporate world or even in our everyday life.

The politics of the game is an aspect that may not be as interesting but can be a source of discussion and debate for basketball lovers like us. General managers have their own fair share of difficulties in managing budget and player egos. Team owners can also have interesting and inspirational stories that go beyond just dollars and cents. The entire ecosystem of amateur and professional basketball in America and around the world is just fascinating and endless stories can be told and shared. And this is exactly the reason why basketball is so popular not just in the United States but all around the world.

Coffee Table Book

I love visuals and what better way to enjoy the game of basketball than to look at photos of great basketball moments in history. Coffee table books are not just great accessories to display but are actually quite fascinating to peruse leisurely on a weekend morning. Appreciating basketball stories through pictures is a great way to stimulate our eyes and minds while gaining insightful details on the sport that we all love and enjoy.

The hard cover and high quality images of a basketball coffee table book never fails to uplift my spirit every time I get my hands on one. The lively images transport me back in time and give me that feeling of being in an NBA arena watching the game live on a ringside seat. This experience is worth more than what I would pay for a hard cover high quality coffee table book on my favorite basketball player or team.

There are many options for great basketball books and coffee table books are a must for all basketball aficionados. This is also an excellent gift idea for basketball players, coaches, and fans. If you are in doubt of what types of basketball books to give your basketball loving friends, a coffee table book about the NBA is a safe bet to buy as a gift. Just make sure you get the ones with hard cover and from reputable publishers. Wrap it up nicely and it will surely be an unforgettable gift for any basketball fan.

My 5 Best Basketball Books

Now let’s take a look at my top choices for the best basketball books that are available to buy online.

1. The Mamba Mentality: How I Play (Kobe Bryant)

Kobe Bryant’s untimely passing on January 26, 2020 has evoked a sense of curiosity on his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers that is certainly worth a hall-of-fame award. This book is a great combination of Kobe’s insightful narrative and Andrew Bernstein’s brilliant photography skills. Kobe’s unique style of play and sky high confidence level are well documented in this book. Being one of the most cerebral professional basketball players, Kobe gave us a glimpse of what went through his mind and how he translated it into success on and off the court.

Being very dedicated to his craft, Kobe Bryant gave us an idea of the preparation he did both physically and mentally to perform at the peak and to compete at a high level consistently. Each step of the way is documented with high quality pictures by Andrew Bernstein who’s an NBA and LA Lakers official photographer. Kobe’s twenty-year career was documented extensively in photos which make this book a one-of-a-kind must-have basketball book for any athlete out there. Whether you are a Kobe fan or not, you will surely get inspired and motivated after reading this book.

2. Three-Ring Circus: Kobe, Shaq, Phil, and the Crazy Years of the Lakers Dynasty

Shaquille O’Neal’s and Kobe Bryant’s animosity towards each other as Lakers teammates and their unique love-hate relationship is comprehensively documented in Jeff Pearlman’s basketball book. Phil Jackson’s coaching brilliance brought three consecutive NBA championships to the Lakers despite the Kobe-Shaq infighting and sometimes public threats of trades from the two superstars.

I love this book for its extensive documentation of one of the greatest dynasties in the history of the NBA. This book reminds us of the struggles we encounter in our daily lives to achieve what others perceive to be impossible.

Phil Jackson’s character is on full display during the eight years that Shaq and Kobe played together for the LA Lakers. Their popularity skyrocketed globally and brought the Los Angeles Lakers franchise back to its old glory and dominance.

The cover of this book reminds us of the purple and gold Lakers jersey that has become such an icon. I would not hesitate to buy this as a gift for a dear friend who loves basketball and wants to have a good read on NBA greats. You must get the hardcover version as it is certainly worth its price.

3. Stephen Curry: The Inspiring Story of One of Basketball’s Sharpest Shooters

This Stephen Curry book is a best seller and is a sure hit with basketball lovers of all ages. This book is one of my favorite inspirational basketball books because it documents the life of the current premier point guard that many look up to. Stephen Curry’s exceptional shooting ability is such a threat that he was able to transform the Golden State Warriors into a championship-caliber team.

His outside shooting consistency is admired and copied but his game keeps evolving and that makes his life and career such an interesting and motivating story. Being the first player in the history of the NBA to be unanimously voted the MVP is a testament to his greatness and star power.

No one doubts that Steph Curry will eventually be a future hall-of-famer so this book is a good read for basketball fans to inspire and motivate them to achieve what Steph has done in his successful career so far. This book gives us a glimpse of his childhood life, high school years, his college basketball years with Davidson, and his path to the NBA. His personal life and his rise to fame are really beautiful stories to tell that every athlete would love to read.

4. Legends: The Best Players, Games, and Teams in Basketball

Howard Bryant of ESPN meticulously documented and narrated the games and key moments of superstars in the NBA. You name it and Howard has covered them in this phenomenal book. Be it Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson, Stephen Curry or LeBron James, this book has great stories to tell.

What I love about this book are the top ten lists that can evoke endless debates with fellow basketball fans. The range of topics covered in this NBA book is very comprehensive. This book also covers glory days of great dynasties like the era of Celtics during Bill Russell’s dominance, the Lakers during Magic Johnsons’ time, the famous Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls dynasty, and the San Antonio Spurs with Tim Duncan at the helm.

This great basketball book is truly an incredible collection of the best of the best the NBA has to offer. The knowledge that you will gain about the NBA and the game of basketball from this book is so much so that you can elevate the quality of your basketball discussions after reading this book. The hardcover version is definitely a great buy and can also serve as a fabulous gift to give to your basketball-loving friend.

5. The Ultimate Basketball Trivia Book: 600 Questions for the Super Fan

We all love quiz nights! Zoom quiz nights are still in and what better way to host an online quiz night than to have basketball trivias. This book is superb. With an overwhelming 600 questions, you will not run out of questions to ask your friends.

Sam Amico has covered the NBA and NCAA quite extensively with questions on the LA Lakers, Boston Celtics, and the Golden State Warriors. Even the UCLA Bruins, Duke Blue Devils, the UNC Tar Heels, and Kentucky Wildcats were not missed out. Judging by the questions I’ve seen, I think every era in the great history of the NBA is touched on. The book even has trivias on the WNBA. If Michael Jordan questions seem easy to you, why not try Bob Cousy or Moses Malone. Joel Embiid might seem like current events to you so Shaquille O’Neal or even Wilt Chamberlain trivias might tickle your mind.

This is no doubt the ultimate basketball trivia book that every basketball player must have. It will truly test your basketball knowledge. Sadly it doesn’t come with a hardcover but the paperback copy is so worth it.

The Awesome Choice

All the five books about basketball and the NBA that I have reviewed in this article are must-haves so it is really difficult for me to choose one. You can buy any of the five and I can assure you that you will absolutely not regret the decision.

However, with Kobe’s passing, his popularity has skyrocketed and the interest about his life and career has certainly increased. If I will have to pick only one basketball book, then I would recommend buying The Mamba Mentality: How I Play (Kobe Bryant). Kobe’s insightful narrative combined with Andrew Bernstein’s brilliant photography skills make this the current best basketball book for me.