Basketball is…that sport with the ball and they go back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. As a kid who grew up in Illinois during the 90’s, I feel like I should be a bigger basketball fan. I’m happy for those who like basketball, I just don’t necessarily join in on the fun.

My 10-year-old nephew, however, has a passion for basketball that both inspires and makes me wonder why. In an effort to keep getting him to talk to me, I decided to watch The Last Dance, an ESPN documentary about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls during their 1997–1998 season.

If you haven’t checked out The Last Dance, I highly recommend that you do. It has all of the drama and intrigue of a great documentary series while also being informative and inspiring. If you’ve finished the documentary and want to know more about the NBA, then check out these books.

The Victory Machine: The Making of Unmaking of the Warriors Dynasty by Ethan Sherwood Strauss

The Golden State Warriors are the envy of the modern NBA. Chasing their third consecutive championship, they have assembled an incredible wealth of athletic talent, lead the league in merchandise sales and are planning to move into a glitzy new stadium next season. Their owner, Joe Lacob, regularly hosts the top CEOs and influencers of Silicon Valley in his box, fashioning himself into one of the most powerful men in the world. Yet inside the organization, there is considerably more strife. In this breakthrough work of reportage, star NBA reporter Ethan Sherwood Strauss investigates the team’s culture, its financial ambitions and struggles, and the toll that being a super-team can take. In so doing, he not only rewrites the story of the Warriors, but reveals how the Darwinian business of NBA basketball really works. Reconstructing the deals that lured Steph Curry away from Nike and Kevin Durant away from Oklahoma City, Strauss shows how the smallest mistakes can define success or failure for years. And, as he looks ahead to the 2020 season, Strauss ponders whether this organization can survive its own ambitions.

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Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson

During his storied career as head coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, Phil Jackson won more championships than any coach in the history of professional sports. Even more important, he succeeded in never wavering from coaching his way, from a place of deep values. Jackson was tagged as the “Zen Master” half in jest by sportswriters, but the nickname speaks to an important truth: this is a coach who inspired, not goaded; who led by awakening and challenging the better angels of his players’ nature, not their egos, fear or greed.

This is the story of a preacher’s kid from North Dakota who grew up to be one of the most innovative leaders of our time. In his quest to reinvent himself, Jackson explored everything from humanistic psychology and Native American philosophy to Zen meditation. In the process, he developed a new approach to leadership based on freedom, authenticity and selfless teamwork that turned the hyper-competitive world of professional sports on its head.

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Elevated: The Global Rise of the N.B.A. by the staff of The New York Times

Howard Beck. Marc Stein. Jonathan Abrams. Chris Broussard. Ira Berkow. George Vecsey. Mike Wise. Selena Roberts. Lee Jenkins. All have graced the pages of The New York Times, entertaining readers with their probing coverage of the N.B.A.: a stage on which spectacular athletes perform against a backdrop of continuous social change. Now, their work and more is collected in a new volume, edited and annotated by Hall of Fame honoree Harvey Araton, tracing basketball’s sustained boom from Magic and Bird to the present. Elevated provides a courtside seat to four decades of professional basketball. Both the iconic moments and those quieter, but no less meaningful times in between are here, from Wise riding around Los Angeles with a young Kobe Bryant on the eve of his first All-Star Game, to Stein declaring Giannis Antetokounmpo’s ‘unspeakable greatness’ to the world in a riveting profile. Rather than simply preserving the past, Elevated reexamines and further illuminates hoops history. This expertly curated collection features exclusive original writing by Araton, revealing candid exchanges with NBA greats that didn’t make the original newspaper edit and tracing the rise of a worldwide phenomenon from a contemporary vantage point.

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