Top 12 basketball books of all time

Michael Jordan Phil Jackson
Photo from Bleacher Report.

From biographies up to motivational pieces, there are a plethora of basketball books to read in the offseason. Whether amateur or professional, coaches and players have written their unique experiences when it comes to basketball.

Best basketball books

Some of the best basketball books came from notable players and coaches in the NCAA and NBA. These books often come as bestsellers since basketball fans want to get a glimpse of their career.

Here are the twelve must-read basketball books of all time…

12. Dream Team

Author: Jack McCallum

Dream Team gives us behind the scenes about the greatest team ever assembled. With players like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird in one team, the 1992 US Olympic Men’s Basketball Team was simply unmatched.

In this book, McCallum takes us inside the prestigious team’s practices, scrimmages, and even their hotel suites. He also gives us fresh interviews about each of the players on the team.

11. Leading with the Heart

Author: Mike Krzyzewski

With multiple championships and Final Four appearances in the NCAA, Coach K is one of the most admired coaches in college.


Leading with the Heart tells us how to become a successful leader and how to bring an organization to greater heights.

In this book, Krzyzewski tells us how he instilled the values of trust, communication, and competitiveness in the hearts of his players. Coach K’s lessons are valuable for any organization out there—whether a sports team or business. Anyone who looks for inspiration or simply loves college basketball will enjoy this book.

10. When The Game Was Ours

Author: Jackie MacMullan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson

Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were two of the greatest players in NBA history. The rivalry between the Lakers and Celtics was at its peak when these two played.

When The Game Was Ours reminisces the rivalry between Bird and Johnson in the 80s and the countless games they went toe-to-toe. This book shows their two different perspectives and how they strived to beat one another. Along the way, their lifelong rivalry evolved into a great relationship.

9. The Winner Within: A Life Plan for Team Players

Author: Pat Riley

Pat Riley is one of the greatest NBA coaches of all time. He was successful in bringing championships to the Showtime Lakers and the ’06 Heat. As the title suggests, Riley knows how to become a winner.

This book is all about how to become successful as a leader in a team setting—whether it’s a small business or an amateur sports team. Riley teaches the secrets of leadership and the importance of teamwork. This book is perfect for aspiring coaches or business leaders who are looking for motivation.

8. Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich

Author: Mark Kriegel

One of the most memorable players in NBA history, Pete Maravich was a basketball wizard.

In this book, Kriegel gives us Maravich’s life story from his humble beginnings up to NBA stardom. It all started with Pistol Pete’s strict father who motivated him to learn basketball as early as seven years old. Eventually, Maravich dominated in high school and college, and his skills ultimately translated to the NBA.

7. Toughness: Developing True Strength On and Off the Court

Author: Jay Bilas

When it comes to toughness, Jay Bilas is the guy. After all, he had a fair share of ups and downs in his playing and coaching career.

In this book, Bilas goes into the real meaning of toughness and its importance in sports and in real life. This is the single trait that made him successful in helping the Blue Devils win multiple championships. This book also features notable coaches and players such as Mike Krzyzewski, Grant Hill, Tom Izzo, and many more.

6. The Breaks of the Game

Author: David Halberstram

Written by Pulitzer Prize reporter, David Halberstram, The Breaks of the Game tells the story about the rise and fall of the Bill Walton-led Blazers in the late 70s.

In this book, Halberstram takes us deeper into the drama that happened in Portland two years after their memorable championship run—from Bill Walton up to their coach, Jack Ramsay. This is one of the must-read NBA books of all time.

5. The Jordan Rules

Author: Sam Smith

The Jordan Rules is not about the Pistons’ infamous strategy in stopping Michael Jordan. Rather, it’s about the Bulls’ turbulent quest to their first title and how Jordan literally ruled on and off the court.

This book takes us to everything that happened inside Chicago’s locker room—from Jordan’s obsession to score and refusal to pass the ball up to his distaste towards Jerry Krause. It’s a story about the rise of the Bulls dynasty in the 90s.

4. The Mamba Mentality: How I Play

Author: Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant is the embodiment of Mamba Mentality. But what does the phrase “Mamba Mentality” really mean?

In this book, Bryant tells us his life perspective and gives his vast knowledge of the game. Ultimately, Mamba Mentality is all about being mentally and physically prepared to succeed not just in basketball, but in real life. He recalls countless accounts of how he studied his opponents, how he overcame countless injuries, and how he won multiple championships.

3. Life Is Not An Accident

Author: Jay Williams

Jay Williams had a great career in college wherein he averaged 19.3 points and 6 assists per game playing for Duke. After a legendary college career, he was drafted second overall by the Bulls in 2002 and he was well on his way to superstardom. However, Williams suffered a major accident which changed his life forever.

In Life is Not an Accident, Williams talks about his life after his motorcycle accident which he described as the moment where he “threw it all away”. It tells the story of how he escaped depression and how he ultimately found peace today. This book tells us that there’s more to life than basketball.

2. The Miracle of St. Anthony

Author: Adrian Wojnarowski

Adrian Wojnarowski is more than just a guy on Twitter who gives “Woj bombs” about trades and free agency signings. He also wrote one of the best-selling basketball books of all time.

The Miracle of St. Anthony follows Bob Hurley’s quest in transforming teenagers from the streets into basketball champions. We all know that Hurley is arguably the greatest high school basketball coach of all time as he amassed 1000 wins and 26 state championships. This book tells a story bout the rise of a small high school team without a home gym to one of the best in the country.

1. Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success

Author: Hugh Delehanty and Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson won a whopping 11 NBA championships in his entire career as a coach—an NBA record. As you can see, he was successful in leading the Bulls and Lakers. So what’s the secret?

In this book, Jackson tells us the importance of trust, selflessness, and maturity not just in basketball, but in real life. He used what he learned in his Native American philosophy and applied it to his coaching. Despite some uncoachable players like Dennis Rodman, he taught his team to become part of something larger than themselves and to win as one.

Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success is one of the best NBA books of all time.

Already made your way through these 12? Check out more basketball books.

Follow us on social media

About Jeremy Mallari 100 Articles
Jeremy lives and breathes basketball. He's an avid NBA fan for almost a decade now.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply