To help you pass the time during the extended stoppage of the NBA season, theScore's basketball news editors and feature writers compiled their favorite books about hoops.
Sam Smith offers a behind-the-scenes look inside the first championship season for Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls. The "Bad Boys" Pistons made the "Jordan Rules" famous, but if you want a very deep dive into how a ruthless, relentless Jordan finally overcame the Pistons and the rest of the NBA in 1990-91, this is the book.
And if that doesn't pique your interest, consider that some of the stories within the book were so juicy, Bulls player Stacey King said: "This is going to be one of the best fictional stories since Mother Goose."
In painstaking and highly digressive detail, the great David Halberstam chronicled the ostensibly unremarkable 1979-80 Portland Trail Blazers.
Reeling from the loss of Bill Walton, those Blazers went 38-44 and got bounced in the first round of the playoffs. But a mediocre NBA team provided the perfect backdrop for a snapshot of the league as a whole at the dawn of the 80s. It captured a moment suspended between two distinct eras: the competitive and commercial dead zone in which Finals games were broadcast on tape delay, and the period ushered in by Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, who were playing their rookie seasons that year and would help turn the league into a thriving entertainment product.
The book is a historical document of a league in the midst of an identity crisis, as well as an introduction to several memorable characters of the day, from Walton to Maurice Lucas to Kermit Washington to Billy Ray Bates to the venerable Dr. Jack Ramsay. It's timelessly great.
Arguably the greatest coach the NBA has ever known with a record 11 championships to his name, Phil Jackson (with co-author Hugh Delehanty) shares insight into his one-of-a-kind experience manning the sidelines for numerous all-time teams headlined by talents like Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O'Neal.
"The Zen Master" provides fascinating accounts of how he navigated managing and leading those larger-than-life personalities during his decades on the sidelines. The unique techniques Jackson leaned on to get the most out of his players - gained through his experience as a player, coupled with his studies of meditation and psychology - are fascinating to absorb. The philosophy of the triangle offense and his views on the factors that separated two of the game's greatest shooting guards in Jordan and Bryant are among the many topics that make this a thoroughly enjoyable read for basketball aficionados.
While Bill Simmons' enthusiasm for marrying hoops observations with Generation X pop culture references can wear at times, his 2010 tome "The Book of Basketball" is an exhaustive breakdown of the game he loves.
Beginning with a fairly entertaining story about burying the hatchet with Isiah Thomas at a topless Vegas pool party, Simmons sets the tone by echoing Thomas' belief that "the secret" of winning, beyond talent, lies in chemistry and players knowing their roles. There's then a now-dated breakdown of the top players in NBA history.
Fair warning: Some takes here didn't age well.
Caron Butler's autobiography (with co-author Steve Springer) chronicles his path from being a teenage drug dealer to having a successful 14-year career in the Association. But before the two-time All-Star tells his story, the late Kobe Bryant shares some kind words about his good friend in the book's foreword. The two were teammates for just one season, but Bryant's admiration for Butler speaks volumes to the latter's character and sets the tone for what's to come.
Butler, who was arrested 15 times by the age of 15, speaks candidly about his family's roots and his rough upbringing. During his time at a youth detention center, Butler discovered his love for basketball, and he shares how it which eventually became his escape from the streets.
Jack McCallum's premise mirrors Halberstam's approach with "The Breaks of the Game." The author embedded as an honorary assistant coach with the Phoenix Suns, an organization that boasted some of the most indelible basketball figures of the 21st century: the headlining trio of future Hall of Famer Steve Nash, his long-overlooked star running mate Shawn Marion, and the then-injured Amar'e Stoudemire; iconoclastic head coach Mike D'Antoni; a front office that at times included both Jerry and Bryan Colangelo, along with David Griffin; and Robert Sarver, who hoped to put his own imprint on the team he purchased in 2004.
If you've already read this one, check out McCallum's 2012 release "Dream Team," chronicling how Jordan, Bird, Magic, and Co. brought basketball to the world at the 1992 Olympics.
Despite its 2017 release, "Basketball (and Other Things)" still holds up incredibly well. That's thanks to author Shea Serrano's willingness to go off the rails to answer ridiculous questions while illustrator Arturo Torres brings his haywire ideas to life.
If you've ever wondered who would go first in a draft of fictional basketball stars (the dog from "Air Bud" is taken before three humans!), or which NBA stars are the best support during a night of no-holds-barred mayhem like "The Purge," this book will tell you. But Serrano provides serious insight, too. For example, with intricate detail, he ranks each of Michael Jordan's 13 Chicago Bulls seasons to determine which stands above the rest.