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Embrace The Madness: Reads for “March Madness”

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Embrace The Madness: Reads for “March Madness”

march madness

The last two and half weeks in March feature one of the biggest annual sporting events in the US. The NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, branded as March Madness, features 68 teams playing dozens of college basketball games, major surprises and thrilling finishes to determine the men’s college basketball national champion of the Division I level in the National Collegiate Athletic Association.  

To celebrate this much enjoyed event here is a list of basketball themed books available with your library card, including biographies and memoirs of basketball legends.

back roads to march

The Back Roads to March : The Unsung, Unheralded, and Unknown Heroes of a College Basketball Season by John Feinstein

 Feinstein pulls back the curtain on college basketball’s lesser-known Cinderella stories — the smaller programs who no one expects to win, who have no chance of attracting the most coveted high school recruits, who rarely send their players on to the NBA. Feinstein follows a handful of players, coaches, and schools who dream, not of winning the NCAA tournament, but of making it past their first or second round games. Every once in a while, one of these coaches or players is plucked from obscurity to continue on to lead a major team or to play professionally, cementing their status in these fiercely passionate fan bases as a legend.

Barkley: A Biography by Timothy Bella

He’s one of the most interesting American athletes in the past fifty years. Passionate, candid, iconoclastic, and gifted both on and off the court, Charles Barkley has made a lasting impact on not only the world of basketball but pop culture at large.  This is the definitive biography of Charles Barkley, exploring his early childhood, his storied NBA career, and his enduring legacy as a provocative voice in American pop culture.

The Big East: Inside the Most Entertaining and Influential Conference in College Basketball History by Dana O’Neil

This is the story of the Big East Conference that you haven’t heard before—of how the Northeast, once an afterthought, became the epicenter of college basketball.  charts the league’s daring beginnings and its incredible rise. It transports fans inside packed arenas to epic wars fought between transcendent players, and behind locker-room doors where combustible coaches battled even more fiercely for a leg up. Started on a handshake and a prayer, the Big East carved an improbable arc in sports history, an ensemble of Catholic schools banding together to not only improve their own stations but rewrite the geographic boundaries of basketball. 

Black Ball : Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Spencer Haywood, and the Generation that Saved the Soul of the NBA by Theresa Runstedtler

Spotlighting legendary players like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bernard King, and Connie Hawkins, scholar Theresa Runstedtler expertly rewrites basketball’s “Dark Ages,” weaving together her deep knowledge of the game’s key icons and institutions with incisive social and political analysis of the era. Black ballers created an aerial, improvisational, and creative style derived from the playground courts of their neighborhoods, laying the foundation for the explosive popularity and profitability of the league in subsequent decades. They also transformed labor in the pro-basketball world, filing lawsuits and organizing unions to demand better salaries and greater autonomy.

The Black Fives : The Epic Story of Basketball’s Forgotten Era by Claude Johnson

A groundbreaking, timely history of the largely unknown early days of Black basketball, bringing to life the trailblazing players, teams, and impresarios who made the game.  This period, known as the Black Fives Era (teams at the time were often called “fives”), was a time of pioneering players and managers. They battled discrimination and marginalization and created culturally rich, socially meaningful events. But despite headline-making rivalries between big-city clubs, the savvy moves of innovative businessmen, and the undeniable talent of star players, this period is almost entirely unknown to basketball fans.

blood in the garden

Blood in the Garden: The Flagrant History of the 1990s New York Knicks by Chris Herring

Herring delves deep into the origin, evolution, and eventual demise of the team. Based on original reporting and over 105 interviews with the principal characters, Herring takes readers into the locker room, executive boardrooms, and on to the court.  Herring will detail how, over the course of the decade, this seemingly disparate collection of castoffs came this close to achieving their dreams, only to see them face the end of the 90s as older, grizzled men who fell just short of the promised land.

Bracketology : March Madness, College Basketball, and the Creation of a National Obsession by Joe Lunardi

Lunardi delves into the early days of Bracketology, details its growth, and dispels the myths of the process.  He compares great teams from different eras with intriguing results, talks to the biggest names in college basketball about their perception of Bracketology (both good and bad), and looks ahead to the future of the sport and how Bracketology will help shape the conversation.

Dwyane by Dwyane Wade

This photographic memoir from the NBA superstar looks at his upbringing on the South Side of Chicago, his college career at Marquette and his extraordinary rise to stardom with the Miami Heat.

Fly : The Big Book of Basketball Fashion by Mitchell S. Jackson

Equal parts stunning, photo-rich lookbook, and cultural commentary, Fly is the story of the extraordinary intersection of high fashion and basketball. Each chapter explores the style of an era and the cultural influences that shaped it.

Game : An Autobiography by Grant Hill

The full, frank story of a remarkable life’s journey-to the pinnacle of success as a basketball player, icon, and entrepreneur, to the depths of personal trauma and back, to a place of flourishing and peace-made possible above all by a family’s love.

history of bball in 15 sneakers

A History of Basketball in 15 Sneakers by Russ Bengtson

A richly illustrated history of the beloved game told through the lens of iconic shoes. It is the story of Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars, synonymous with basketball from the very beginning and perfect for the sport’s plodding and low-visibility early years. How sneaker brands enhanced and even help create some of the game’s greatest stars, from Walt Frazier and his signature PUMA Clydes to the icon of all icons, Michael Jordan, and the rise of Air Jordan. Even how innovations in the game evolved as the sneakers evolved, and vice versa.

How Basketball Can Save the World : 13 Guiding Principles for Reimagining What’s Possible by David Hollander

A thought-provoking exploration of how basketball-and the values rooted in the game-can solve today’s most pressing issues, from the professor behind the popular New York University course.Hollander moves beyond the classroom to present a beautiful new philosophy with contributions by many of his past guests and based on values inherent to basketball, such as inclusion and the balancing of individual success with the needs of the collective. These principles move us beyond conflict and confusion toward a more harmonious and meaningful future.

Jumpman : The Making and Meaning of Michael Jordan by John Matthew Smith

The story of how Michael Jordan became the most famous and celebrated athlete in America. The book chronicles his ascendance as an NBA champion during the 1990-1991 season revealing the social, cultural, and political forces that shaped him and redefined the sport’s importance. It explores how the NBA and Nike, publicists and producers, coaches and competitors, reporters and fans molded Jordan into a mythic version of the man from Wilmington, NC.

KG A to Z : An Uncensored Encyclopedia of Life, Basketball, and Everything in Between by Kevin Garnett

A unique, unfiltered memoir from the NBA champion and fifteen-time all-star looks back on his life and career, including his decision to enter the NBA draft directly out of high school, and shares his thoughts on fame, family, racism, and spirituality.

LeBron by Jeff Benedict

This is the definitive biography of LeBron James, one of the greatest athletes of all time–the king of basketball, the figure at the center of social movements, the man everyone has an opinion on.

lessons from lute

Lessons from Lute : Reflections on Legendary Arizona Basketball Coach Lute Olson by Steve Rivera

Lute Olson is a college basketball coaching institution, from Tucson and the University of Arizona through the Pac-12, and forever in the annals of the sport as one of the best to ever do it. In this celebratory collection of stories and memories about coach Olson, UA players, coaches, administrators, and opposing coaches lovingly look back on the warmth and wisdom of Olson, and reflect on the impact of the unforgettable quarter century he expertly guided the program, both on and off the court.

The NBA in Black and White : The Memoir of a Trailblazing NBA Player and Coach by Ray Scott

Ray Scott was part of the early wave of Black NBA players like Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who literally changed how the game of professional basketball is played-leading to the tremendously popular financial blockbuster the NBA is today.   His story is a story of quiet persistence, hard work, and, most of all, respect.

The Rise : Kobe Bryant and the Pursuit of Immortality by Mike Sielski

The inside look at one of the most captivating and consequential figures in our culture with never-before-seen material.  Readers will travel from the neighborhood streets of Southwest Philadelphia–where Kobe’s father, Joe, became a local basketball standout–to the Bryant family’s isolation in Italy, where Kobe spent his formative years, to the leafy suburbs of Lower Merion, where Kobe’s legend was born. The story will trace his career and life at Lower Merion–he led the Aces to the 1995-96 Pennsylvania state championship, a dramatic underdog run for a team with just one star player–and the run-up to the 1996 NBA draft, where Kobe’s dream of playing pro basketball culminated in his acquisition by the Los Angeles Lakers.

Sixty-One : Life Lessons From Papa, On and Off the Court by Chris Paul

By the NBA superstar: A powerful and unexpected memoir of family, faith, tragedy, and life’s most important lessons.  Chris opens up about life beyond basketball and the role his grandfather played in molding him into the man and father he is today. He’ll speak about the foundation of faith and family he built his life upon, what it means to be a positive light within your community and beyond, and the importance of setting the proper example for future generations.

When the Game Was War : The NBA’s Greatest Season by Rich Cohen

The 1980s were a transformative decade for the NBA.  Cohen tells the colorful story of this incredible season through the four teams, and the four players, who dominated it: Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics, Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers, Isiah Thomas and the Detroit Pistons, and a young Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls. Taking the reader from rural Indiana to the southside of Chicago, suburban North Carolina to rust-belt Michigan, Cohen explores the diverse journeys each of these iconic players took before arriving on the big stage. Drawing from dozens of interviews with NBA insiders, Cohen brings to vivid life some of the most colorful characters of the era-like Bill Laimbeer, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Danny Ainge, and Charles Oakley-who fought like hell to help these stars succeed.

Archana Chiplunkar, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

 

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