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Basketball: A Love Story

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  1,001 ratings  ·  115 reviews
A sweeping and revelatory history of basketball, drawing upon hundreds of hours of interviews with the greatest players, coaches, executives, and journalists in the history of the game.

In an effort to tell the complete story of basketball in all its fascinating dimensions, celebrated journalists Jackie Macmullan and Rafe Bartholomew have compiled nearly a thousand hours' w
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Published September 18th 2018 by Books on Tape
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Average rating 4.20  · 
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 ·  1,001 ratings  ·  115 reviews

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Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A thorough and nostalgic history of basketball, told mainly by weaving individual’s quotes together. The format is a little off-putting at first, but the insight from the individuals is so great, that it eventually begins to flow. I had so much nostalgia, especially reading about Magic vs Bird and Arvydas Sabonis. I also learned a lot about the early racism in the game and gambling scandals that almost derailed it.

The quote that resonated with my love of basketball the most was from Charlie Sco
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have never been a fan of longform "oral histories" online. It's a format where they gather the opinions of a varied field of experts on a topic, and quote them and order it to sound like a conversation among old heads. I always knew it had its value... but it never appealed to me.

This is an oral history of the NBA.

And it's great.

I am not sure there was a single chapter I didn't love.

Additionally, I've read a number of books on basketball and basketball's history, and I still somehow learned qu
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just a fun, love infused, interview based book.
If you’re a junkie, there’s enough here.
If you’re a fan (like me), there’s a lot of little things you didn’t know that you’ll learn (and familiar stories told campifre style)
If you’ve never thought about basketball, you’re going to appreciate the way the narrative weaves itself through the last 90 years of American history with love and a perspective you maybe haven’t seen before.

Really enjoyable, easy to digest; the palate cleanser I needed.
Rives Coleman
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely stunning book with interviews with basketball s greatest players coaches writers general managers . It crossed the borders on many tough subjects and did not skirt anything in the tales. I loved every page of this book.
My expectations for this novel were truly exceeded after reading this novel. I love basketball, so being able to read about all the stroies that my parents tell me is pretty cool. My parents always talk about Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and the Celtics team that won multiple championships in a row. It was just remarkable to read these stories and really feel what it was like from the main characters perspective's. The novel is filled with multiple stories going all the way back to the beginning o ...more
Nov 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, sports
An epic tome and an absolute must read for any basketball fan. As someone who only watched basketball during the 90s and now since 2014 I was endlessly fascinated by the stories from eras I didn't witness. As a modern fan it brought so much context to the current culture and playstyle of the game. The oral history style of most of the book does great justice to all the interesting personalities of the game and makes sure that the story told is an honest one.

I was also so pleasantly surprised by
Nov 23, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. ESPN recently put together a show based on hundreds on interviews with important figures in the world of basketball who talk about why they love the sport and what it has meant to them. Participants also describe various eras including the John Wooden era at UCLA, the rise of the ABA, and the Bird-Magic, Celtics-Lakers battles of the 1980s.

I have not seen the video; my brother tells me it's great. However, I have now read most of the book that was assembled from those interviews. Like
Dec 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a companion to ESPN's ten hour documentary of the same name but stands on it's own as an oral history of college and professional basketball. The shear volume of interview subjects in the book is staggering as is the positivity starting with athlete after athlete describing how and why they first fell in love with basketball to Magic Johnson's words that close out the book. While I would have loved a little more about woman's basketball in the book and due to her untimely illness an ...more
Joseph Stieb
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports
While there are only so many ways that basketball players can say "I love basketball," this is a really entertaining and well-compiled oral history of all kinds of hoops topics. It has some of the classics (Wilt and Russell, Bird v Magic, the ABA) and then some more compelling and historically relevant thematic sections (racial integration of basketball, the rise of the women's game, the international game). The book is well-paced, and it avoids the drift and lack of structure that plagues many ...more
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
At first, I was skeptical of the writing / quoting style. But it hits a groove, and the added story lines and different perspectives come out smoothly and entertaining way. The chapters on the social, racial and gender struggles were really interesting. As well as the MJ23 and Lakers-Celtics chapters. Good stuff. This book will not make you a basketball fan. But Definitely recommend it for basketball fans.
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a great book - an oral history of the game. They cover a broad variety of topics from gambling to the Dream Team to the WNBA to MJ. Because you're hearing from the players and coaches directly, you can sense their love for the sport, and that translates to the reader. It's not quite as good as actually watching basketball, but since we don't have that option right now, I'll take this book! ...more
Patrick Freeman
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I recommend this book for someone who loves the game of basketball. This book provides incredible commentary for the most intense basketball rivalries and players. I personally loved this book because the stories within the book really interested me. I could connect to the intensity to playing basketball. I realized how intense playoff basketball was a long time ago.
Darryl Spicer
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For those who love basketball this is a gem of a book.
Within the pages are gems of insights and understanding of the game, it takes you from looking at the game at a superficial level.

Sure its format may not be to every one 's taste.
But I enjoyed it
Alexander Fitzgerald
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing

This is one of my favorite audiobooks of all time.

The players and the coaches discussing every era in their own words. Nothing less. Nothing more. Absolutely perfect.

There was so much competitive wisdom in each passage. I didn't want it to end.
Gavin McLean
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you love basketball you will love this book.
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Basketball: A Love Story" elegantly weaves together the views and thoughts of dozens of influential players/coaches/writers/administrators into a series of wonderful episodes in basketball history, united around a mutual love of basketball. An oral history of the finest caliber, I think the long-term value of this book rests primarily in the preservation of the words and experiences of the oldest remaining NBA players. First and foremost, this is a piece of history. This is clear, as most of th ...more
Dale Kulas
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Basketball: A Love Story is a comprehensive oral history of basketball. Not just the NBA either, but also college hoops, ABA, International and Olympics history and the WNBA. It does not cover every single year, but jumps to big moments in the history of the game from the dominance of the 60s Celtics, the rise and fall of the ABA and how it revolutionized the game, to how the '92 "Dream Team" paved the way for an influx of International players that diversified the NBA to all new levels.

This is
Preston Popoff
May 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, own-ebook
This was a really good book. I thought I knew a good amount about basketball and NBA history, but as I read through the earlier sections (and even through the modern NBA) I was surprised by how much I was learning. Very thorough, thoughtfully nostalgic, and dramatically insightful, this collection of history was simply a joy to read. Because it was adapted from a documentary, the style of being a bunch of oral history from one person to the next took some getting used to. But once I did, I felt ...more
Corban Ford
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is an interesting book, and one that I'm still figuring out, even after having read it. It is more of an anthology, an interesting tome of interviews form the great that were and are in the game of basketball, regardless of level or league. To be honest, I'd have preferred this written in a different format and not the same one as the TV special that airs on ESPN at the moment, but this was still a very thoughtful exploration on the game of basketball, it's history, and the love held for it ...more
Ben Travis
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
Overall it was a very fun book to read with a lot of great anecdotes from the great basketball players from each era. The one issue I have with the book is it is tough to read in long stretches due to the way it is formatted. Being an oral history I found it difficult to keep switching points of view and sometimes would get lost with who said what, especially with the lesser known people. This book is great for short reads, a chapter or two at a time. My favorite chapters were about the point sh ...more
Aug 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a basketball fan, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Like many others, I went in skeptical with the oral history format, but in this case it worked. I especially enjoyed the early history of the professional game with its Wild Wild West vibe. No punches pulled (rightly so) when addressing the racial issues of the time & the game.

If you love the game you’ll enjoy this book.
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A delightful oral history.
Troy Aguilar
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It was great and shows more than why they just love basketball but in how they got pass their obstacles
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Stop quoting Bill Simmons when it comes to modern basketball.
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it.

I laughed. I cried. And it's one of the few books that I've genuinely hugged to my chest after finishing.

This is a fantastic read for any fan of basketball (at all levels) and one that I will add to my personal book shelf.
May 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
An oral history of basketball compiled from hundreds of interviews, detailing the professional (NBA) side of the sport through all its eras, the struggle for racial and gender equality, the rise of the college basketball powerhouses, etc., straight from the people that lived it, with minimal editorializing. Found the ABA chapter and the chapter on the first international players to make the jump to the NBA particularly compelling and more deeply appreciate the early pioneers for pushing the spor ...more
Ted Hekman
I thought it was cool to get a first-hand perspective of what it's like being in the league and playing with/against all the great players. I did feel that it droned on for a bit at times and I found myself skipping ahead from time to time. I learned a few interesting tidbits I didn't already know and got a better feel for the history of the league. ...more
Carlo Z
Jul 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book that offers one of the most comprehensive histories of basketball I’ve read to date. The stories of the NBA in the 1960s, the ABA, the WNBA, and the evolution of the USA’s international basketball teams throughout the decades are among the highlights. Highly recommended for all fans of basketball.
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
oral history that drags occasionally as people rehash oft-told stories [Kobe and Shaw did not get along; the Dream Team in 1992 Olympics was awesome and inspired a lot of international players; Michael Jordan was highly competitive] or great players/rivalries I remember very well [ex. Celtics/Lakers rivalry of the 1980's], but with occasional skimming this is a fun book.

narcissistically, I enjoyed the quotes that reminded me of me -- turns out Steve Kerr remembers vividly the 1973 UCLA/Maryland
Ken Heard
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
At first, reading a 400-page book entirely consisting of quotes from scores of people seemed a bit awkward, but once I got into the story, it flowed well.

This is an epic look at basketball's history from the days of pre-Russell and Chamberlain through the growth of popularity with international players to the Jordan days to now. Each section contains some nice anecdotes from players. For example Hakeem Olajuwon almost played college basketball at St. Joseph's rather than Houston. However, he ste
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