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The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to The Sports Guy

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  31,989 ratings  ·  1,020 reviews
There is only one writer on the planet who possesses enough basketball knowledge and passion to write the definitive book on the NBA.* Bill Simmons, the from-the-womb hoops addict known to millions as’s Sports Guy, is that writer. And The Book of Basketball is that book.

Nowhere in the roundball universe will you find another single volume that covers as much in s
Hardcover, 736 pages
Published October 27th 2009 by ESPN (first published May 5th 2009)
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William Johnson
Reprinted from my website Secure Immaturity:

The Sports Guy (aka Bill Simmons) is an engaging, Internet personality. He previously wrote a book that was a collection of his highly successful and entertaining Internet postings regarding his beloved Red Sox. Any fan of Simmons knows that he is a rabid Boston sports fanatic, most notably the Celtics and Red Sox. If there is any weakness to his writing it is that he is insanely biased to those Boston teams. When approaching topics from a fan perspect
Nov 03, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010
Ultimately, a pretty disappointing book. As a big fan of the Sports Guy's columns about the NBA, I thought I would be laughing from beginning to end and learning a lot. Neither turned out to be true. By expanding upon the worst parts of his columns - his obsessive biases towards certain types of players and teams - and mostly ignoring the profound insight he usually incites with his biting humor, Simmons comes off as someone who spent too much time watching pro basketball and now can do nothing ...more
Paul Mcleod
Apr 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
When Chuck Klosterman and, of all intellectual giants, Bill Walton can destroy the theoretical foundation of your 700-page book's analysis in ten pages worth of cameos...well, it's probably asking too much for you to admit that you wasted the last two years of your life and start over from scratch, but that's probably what you should do. The Book of Basketball works alright as entertainment, though the expanded license for dick jokes fails to enhance Simmons' humor much, but as a work of analysi ...more
Dec 05, 2009 rated it it was ok
It's incredibly entertaining at best, infuriating and a drunken digression at others. Simmons views himself as an expert, and that comes through on every page - whether in his decision that John Stockton played in era of "inflated assists" or his condemnation of the last twenty minutes of NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. He's just not that smart, frankly. In both cases, he makes specious claims and then moves on to more specious claims or backs them up with statistics that are supposed to be taken at fac ...more
Doug Stotland
Apr 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports
If you're a huge NBA fan, a guy, are between the ages 40 and 48 (as of 2012) and have watched an insane amount of TV and movies this is a no-brainier 5 star book(1). Otherwise I don't think you'll like it.

I haven't enjoyed a book this much in a very long time. Malcom Gladwell nails it in the forward here he says Bill Simmons is what you would be if you had endless hours to devote to being a fan. Bill Simmons is hilarious + his love of the NBA and his ability to create analogies from random stuff
Dec 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Here's the problem with being a huge fan of a prolific columnist: When you've read every single word a guy has squeaked out for 7-plus years, you start to know all his (or her, I suppose) jokes, all their beats and all their tendencies. You lose the element of surprise.

So when it was announced that The Sports Guys new basketball book was more than 700 pages, I cringed. Not sure if I could take that many pages of Karate Kid jokes and Celtics handjobs. My infatuation with the guy has died wuite a
Jan 10, 2010 rated it liked it
I have to confess that finishing this book felt like something of a chore. At 700 pages, you really have to love basketball, or Bill Simmons - or both - to get through it. I like basketball a lot, but I can't pretend to have followed it very closely, historically. The Book of Baseball would have been an easier read for me, because I already know more about the main characters. I started this months ago and plugged away, plugged away, finally devoting the better part of a weekend to finishing it. ...more
Bobby Otter
Nov 02, 2009 rated it it was ok
Thoughts (Simmons style):

Simmons must have hired John Iriving's editor to edit this book... and that's not a complement. What was the point of the Grumpy Old Editor? To not edit?

I think this is the world longest coffee table book.

The Most Valuable Chapter? Why was this in the book? This was excruciating to read...

Over all, it's hard to disagree with where Simmons ranked everyone. The only WTF ranking I saw was Garnett over Isiah and Pippen. But everything else is nitpicking.

I'm not sure I need
Nov 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
This highly entertaining book is many things: a fan's love letter to his favorite sport (and the players and teams who made it so), an attempt to place professional basketball in the cultural (and racial) landscape of twentieth century America, and an attempt to settle arguments about what matters on the basketball court.

Bill Simmons is successful on the first two counts, but is tenuous on the third. The first is the emotion of the fan's experience; there are passages that sent shivers down my s
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports, pop-culture, owned
The Sports Guy is known for his willingness to authoritatively state his opinions in an entertaining manner featuring his parenthetical prowess, command of pop cultural metaphor, crazed zeal for his subject matter, seemingly endless encyclopedic dissertation of facts, and personal connection to the material and the reader. His 700-page tome features all of these Simmons standby techniques, as well as his signature voice, punctuated by his overactive love of footnotes and casually vulgar interjec ...more
John Saylor
Jan 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was very fun to read. It was full of everything from basketball to movies, and it wasn't just another boring informational. It reads very well, and even if you don't read all of it order, each section could be a miniature book.
Along with entertaining you throughout, Bill Simmons puts a lot of thought into his writing. He takes everything from the Hall of Fame to An All time All-NBA team. Even if you are an NBA fan yourself, and don't agree with his choices at first, he explains them i
Jul 18, 2011 rated it liked it
a lot of great basketball history almost ruined by two things: 1) a sometimes sickening love for the boston celtics and 2) finding david fosters wallace's style in a book about basketball (replete, with made-up proper noun titles, exuberant friendly narrative voice and a scholarly knowledge mixed with bawdy asides and metaphors, oh - and the dead giveaway - footnotes (not that dfw has a total claim to footnotes, but simmons uses them in almost the exact same way)... but other than these two thin ...more
David Lomax
Dec 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
So I read this book during the basketball lockout to keep me company. And I finished just as the strike ended. I didn't buy this book as a hardcover even though I know a lot of people who raved about it. But when I flipped through it in the store, I just couldn't get myself to pay for it because the writer is such a die hard Celtics fan.

When it came out in paperback, and was updated to incorporate the Lakers winning the championship (yeah, you guessed it, I'm a Lakers fan) I saw that the writer
Justin Evans
Aug 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-etc
Each summer we in the United States go from having 3 great sports to watch and talk about, to having one okay sport. But sports television keeps going for 24 hours a day. I watch sports TV with lunch, but in summer, it's so boring that I often end up doing the dishes instead.

For the last three years, I've spent my summer lunches going through this book. Simmons is better than most sports journalists inasmuch as he can write more than one sentence without making me cringe, and he has a sense of
Markus Molina
Jul 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm so grateful a book like this exists about basketball. It's the basketball bible. Any hardcore basketball fan should read this ASAP. It's an in depth view of the history of the league and contains fun lists and comparisons to different eras and teams and players. It's just a lot of fun to read. I'll admit, for being five stars, the book isn't incredibly written, but Simmons makes up for it with humor and pop culture references. He throws in about 1000 Boogie Nights references, which is one of ...more
May 14, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Disclosure: I regularly listen to Bill Simmons B.S. Report podcasts and I usually read his columns on thus I'm a fan of his work.

That being said, I was somewhat disappointed with TBOB. Overall it was very insightful, but parts of it were a little tiresome. I found myself skimming certain portions - especially if they dealt with players that played in the NBA during the 50s and 60s. Other than a few interesting tidbits about the history of the NBA (evolution of the shot clock, 3-point sh
Jan 28, 2010 rated it liked it
I am a fan of Bill Simmons' columns and podcasts. I also read his earlier book on the Boston Redsox.

Compared to his other work, this book was just a grind. I didn't read it so much as cross it off my todo list. At 700 pages, it is long, but I actually didn't notice myself watching the page number too much. It was more that the different rankings and lists just seem to go on forever. I also don't think the book turned out this way due to a lack of effort on Simmons' part. It just seems to not be
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of Simmons. Sure he's not the "best" sportswriter (my personal favorite is ESPN's Phil Ball, who covers the Spanish soccer league, La Liga) but it is easy to chuckle while reading his columns and appreciate how he weaves pop culture into his columns. His new fabulous Grantland website is also something that should be applauded.

While I enjoyed parts of this book, the problems I see with it are as follows:
1) length (750 pages) 2) parts of it merely rehash many o
Jul 21, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I enjoyed this book, but man a livin' - there aren't many books where you can say the author probably should have cut out 500 pages... Bill Simmons has an incredible knowledge of the NBA (current and historical), much of which is first hand knowledge (having grown up with Celtics season tickets), but even with his internet articles I've always thought he talks too long. I really enjoyed the anecdotes (which he draws from his own life, but also from all of the NBA books and interview he has read) ...more
Feb 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: sports fans, history buffs, Celtics fans
In the interest of complete disclosure, I have to say that I am one of the biggest fans of the NBA that you will find. I have been since about 1980 and I have a lot of useless basketball trivia floating around in my head. That said, I have nothing on Bill Simmons (though I would love to chat with him about it some day).

If you are a casual fan of the sport, this book is probably not for you except maybe for use as a sports reference book or some great bathroom fodder. It reads sort of like an En
Dekean Baines
May 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This Book was actually pretty good, I thought this book would have mostly statistics on the latest player and the famous players. This book teaches you how to play basketball and how it works. Bill Simmons shared some "basketball secrets" that most people or players don't even know. Most people think you just have the skills to play basketball since you were a kid or you just can't play at all. But one of Bill Simmons favorite quote is, "But that's the thing of Basketball: You don't play games o ...more
Jul 29, 2009 rated it liked it
I love basketball and am fan of the NBA (there are a few of us out there), but my knowledge of pro basketball pre-1992 was limited, so I appreciate the book as a resource that is fun to read, well argued, and well researched. Freed from ESPN's censors, however, Bill Simmons' humor unfortunately resorted to one to many dick and tit jokes. Though in his articles he makes subtle (and at times not so subtle) remarks about how he is limited by corporate censorship, it turns out that extra work he had ...more
Sep 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
I think this book was pretty good. I like basketball and sports, and Bill Simmons is a good sports writer, having his own sports website. The book starts off about him as a young Celtics fan. Each section is kind of like a book. It includes a debate about who's better: Bill Russell or Wilt Chamberlain, and a chapter about what ifs. A big part of the book was the top basketball players of all time. It just has tons of Basketball. I liked this book, and the only downside to me is that the top play ...more
Ray Charbonneau
Oct 31, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: sports
Entertaining, but it's 700 pages of opinion masquerading as fact. The fact that he bails out on the history of the league when he reaches the mid-80s is a big problem. So is daring to compare his book to Bill James'. This was fun, but it won't age well. ...more
Lee C
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Bill Simmons knows a lot about the game of basketball. He is a very well renown sports columnist from Boston in the United States, and he has spent around 35 years of his life meticulously following the NBA, the American professional basketball league. The Book of Basketball is essentially a thought dump from Simmons: his personal opinions drive the narrative of this book, and his notable bias for Boston athletes shows in spurts. His anecdotes of popular culture television and movies, in additio ...more
Jason Kinn
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Malcolm Gladwell damns this book with faint praise in his foreword. He basically says two things: (1) this book is really long; (2) read the footnotes (implying that they're better than the text).

Yes, the book is long, but it has to be -- it is a comprehensive take on a league that has existed since 1954. And it flies by -- it's easy to pick up this book for a few minutes and find you've read 20 pages.

The allocation of space isn't what I'd like. Simmons spends 400 pages individual players in his
Zak Zawaduk
May 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Simmons has a deep understanding of basketball, and I learned a great deal about the NBA and its players from reading this book. It covers past and present, players and coaches, good teams and bad, and a lot of the social context around the game. He focuses on team-oriented players and some of the fundamentals of the game that a casual fan would miss, and he walks through just enough "what ifs" and alternate player/team timelines without devolving some lazy NBA butterfly theory. The best parts o ...more
Jonathan Latshaw
An enjoyable read if you love the NBA, it’s history, and players. Simmons is funny (and also obnoxious at times), sure. But most importantly, he gets it. He understands what makes the NBA and the game of basketball so great. At 701 pages, this book seems to just scratch the surface of what BS discussed. I mean, the man—a lifelong Celtics fan—only gave Bird like 4 pages (586-590)?!? Four pages to describe Larry Legend? And this was written in 2009... think of all that has taken place in the Assoc ...more
Danny Gibson
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
Reading this book is like arguing across the Thanksgiving table with your masshole uncle. Simmons has a truly encyclopedic knowledge of pro players, and advances one conceit about teamwork (dubbed The Secret by Simmons and later The Choice by NBA great Bill Walton [the fact that the actual athlete is more poetic tells you all you need to know]) which is called on throughout this collosal text. TBB's most troubling feature is its handling of race. Black and White American dynamics are tied to the ...more
D.P. Monet
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is about more than just a summary of the great players in basketball history. It hones in on players that placed winning above all. I knew near to nothing about basketball told like this, of concepts such as building a team with players that fit the right way through traits that can't be noted on the box score. Just by reading this book, I feel I have the edge in every bet, and also a narrative of what's going on in the minds of players, coaches, and general managers in real time. Mayb ...more
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Bill Simmons is a sports columnist, author, and TV personality. He rose to prominence as a columnist for ESPN's online 'Page 3' forum, before becoming editor in chief for Grantland, a sports and pop culture website and ESPN affiliate.

After a dispute with ESPN in 2015, Simmons began working with HBO; both developing a television show and continuing his podcast.

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“If you don't agree with me, I have two words for you: shut the fuck up.” 36 likes
“But that's the thing about basketball: you don't play games on paper.” 16 likes
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