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Dearth of NBA literature

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Bubbler, Dec 1, 2008.

  1. Bubbler

    Bubbler Well-Known Member

    I spend my fair share of time in bookstores, which means I spend a fair share of time in the sports section of bookstores.

    I was re-reading Terry Pluto's fantastic Loose Balls last week and I wanted to see if I could pick up a newer tome on the history of the game. Basketball's history is really fascinating. The style of Pluto's book, which consisted of first-hand accounts of the ABA, could easily be applied to the NBA before, during and after that period. There's any number of books that could be written about the league's history.

    With that in mind, it struck me this weekend how little historical and reference literature there is on the NBA, at least stuff that is in-print and available for purchase. Hell, it struck me how few books there are on basketball period. Your typical chain bookstore might have one or two bookcases devoted to the basketball, college and pro.

    Oh there's the quickies, stuff like books on the 2008 Boston Celtics and the rushed bios on current stars, but if you want to read something interesting on the history of the game, it's going to be hard to find while you're out Christmas shopping.

    By the way, I'm not counting Amazon, because Amazon is a different animal. You generally don't wander into Amazon the same way you wander into a bookstore. Amazon is for surgical strike shopping, bookstores are for meandering around so you can scour the shelves and be pleasantly surprised by what you might find and buy.

    I went to a few bookstores this weekend, and while there were some stray unique titles in each, for the most part there was maybe 5-to-10 books on NBA history ... and the number is far closer to five than 10. Of those books, half of them were about Pete Maravich, a fascinating man, but a lot of material on one flaky dude who died too young in the face of little to none on anyone else.

    In contrast, baseball can support an entire row worth of material in most stores. The NFL, another sport that isn't well-served in its historical literature, comes in next, but still has a lot more to offer than the NBA does.

    I imagine there's a simple explanation -- NBA books don't sell as well as baseball and football books, but still, it's a shame there's not more out there.
  2. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    I wished I could have taped HBO's documentary on the ABA. Great stuff.
  3. bostonbred

    bostonbred Guest

    Football, and especially baseball, are easier to write about.
  4. Cadet

    Cadet Guest

    There is a joke to be made about NBA fans and literacy, but I won't go there.
  5. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    "Back Door Man" is a great read. Picked up at my local B&N last week.

    Also- Crashing the Borders: How Basketball Won the World and Lost Its Soul by Harvey Araton

    Well written book that probably explains why there are not more NBA books on book shelves.
  6. mpcincal

    mpcincal Well-Known Member

    I haven't read it, but about 10-15 years ago, Pluto put out a book called "Tall Tales," on the early history of the NBA, written in the same style as "Loose Balls."
  7. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    I liked Crashing the Borders fine, though Araton sometimes seemed to assume the role of D'Antoni's PR guy in the thing.
  8. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    The thing with Araton is that he has been around the NBA long enough to clearly see the difference in product quality.

    Writers who did not see the NBA of the 80's and early 90's might actaully think current product is good basketball.
  9. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    He mined his files very well, for that one. Was enlightened, in many areas.
  10. KG

    KG Active Member

  11. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    "The Punch" by Feinstein was a good read. Caught the flavor of late 70s NBA.
  12. swenk

    swenk Member

    It's not a joke at all--the publishers come right out and say it.

    Some years ago, I represented a book about a big star in the NBA, his impact on the league and his team, written by the local beat writer. The proposal was great, so we took it around to all the big publishers.

    The responses included:
    --NBA fans don't buy books.
    --African-Americans who are NBA fans don't buy books.
    --Book buyers aren't NBA fans.
    --NBA fans would rather buy shoes and jerseys.
    --No one outside of Chicago cares about Michael Jordan.

    The latter point referring to the book itself, which was The Jordan Rules by Sam Smith, which has over a million copies in print and still sells.

    There are probably legit reasons why there are fewer NBA books--shorter history than MLB and NFL, fewer players to write books--but the #1 reason is absolutely based on the assumption that NBA fans (nudge wink) don't buy books.
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