You have to give the gang at Time Inc. credit -- they know how to package and repackage their product. They have produced all sorts of anthologies and collections over the years, and they have been generally worthwhile.
The 50th anniversary of Sports Illustrated sparked a series of books looking back. After going through baseball and football, SI came up with "The Basketball Book." It's a worthy successor.
The book, edited by Rob Fleder, doesn't have any particular order, with one exception. Individual decades get their own little sections, complete with all-stars, historical developments, etc.
Alexander Wolff and Jack McCallum start the book with a nice overview of the game and its roots. From there, the volume offers a combination of words and pictures, with the emphasis on photography. Well, it is Sports Illustrated. The articles come from a variety of stories printed in SI over the years. There's Frank Deford on Bill Russell, Rick Reilly on Shaquille O'Neal, Gary Smith on Jim Valvano, John Underwood on John Havlicek, John Papanek on Pete Maravich, and so on. The whole article isn't reprinted, but some good editing boils each story down to one page here. The adjoining page is devoted to a full-page picture of the subject.
The rest, though, is just great pictures. Some you might remember if you are a regular, long-time reader of the magazine. Sidney Moncrief dunking, Elvin Hayes rejecting, Michael Jordan shooting. Most of the book concentrates on the NBA, but college basketball is more than adequately represented, and the women's game pops up once in a while too. (The WNBA will have to wait for the next book, apparently.)
There's one other bonus to discuss when reviewing "The Basketball Book." I've said before in this space that coffee-table books, while beautiful to examine, sometimes aren't exactly a best buy for consumers. In this case, the original list price was $34.95, which might be a bit high for a book that can be examined in a relatively short period of time.
But now that this book has been out for a while, it has turned up in the bargain section of the bookstore. This was one marked down to $9.95. At that price, this book is definitely worth a look ... or six.