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The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to The Sports Guy [Hardcover]

Bill Simmons , Malcolm Gladwell
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 27 2009
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 such depth as this wildly opinionated and thoroughly entertaining look at the past, present, and future of pro basketball.

From the age-old question of who actually won the rivalry between Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain to the one about which team was truly the best of all time, Simmons opens–and then closes, once and for all–every major pro basketball debate. Then he takes it further by completely reevaluating not only how NBA Hall of Fame inductees should be chosen but how the institution must be reshaped from the ground up, the result being the Pyramid: Simmons’s one-of-a-kind, five-level shrine to the ninety-six greatest players in the history of pro basketball. And ultimately he takes fans to the heart of it all, as he uses a conversation with one NBA great to uncover that coveted thing: The Secret of Basketball.

Comprehensive, authoritative, controversial, hilarious, and impossible to put down (even for Celtic-haters), The Book of Basketball offers every hardwood fan a courtside seat beside the game’s finest, funniest, and fiercest chronicler.

* More to the point, he’s the only one crazy enough to try to pull it off.

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“[A] slam dunk.”—USA Today

“The work of a true fan . . . It might just represent the next phase of sports commentary.”—The Atlantic

“May be one of those literary lollapaloozas that Simmons’s fans must buy.”—The New York Times
“Wildly prolific, ceaselessly witty, harmlessly crass, and generally wise, Simmons has built an everydude empire by triangulating the trashy pop-culture futon talk of Chuck Klosterman and the stats-heavy philosophizing of Malcolm Gladwell.”—The Village Voice
“This is just plain fun. . . . The true NBA fan will dive into this hefty volume and won’t resurface for about a week.”—Booklist (starred review)
“The book flows much like Mr. Simmons’s ESPN columns. . . . Opinion gushes out of him. But he backs it up with equal parts serious research and off-angle observations. . . . He has produced enough provocative arguments to fuel barstool arguments far into the future.”—The Wall Street Journal


From the Trade Paperback edition.

About the Author

Bill Simmons writes “The Sports Guy” column for’s Page 2 and ESPN: The Magazine. He is the author of Now I Can Die In Peace, founded the award-winning website, and was a writer for Jimmy Kimmel Live. He commutes between his home in Los Angeles and Fenway Park.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential read for NBA fans Aug. 5 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Since I first read this book years ago, it has become my personal reference for basically all things basketball. This doesn't mean I blindly agree with everything Bill Simmons says about the NBA or teams or even players, but you can clearly see that the man knows his stuff. And, more importantly, he LOVES the NBA and the sport of basketball.

Anyway, the book is split into chapters. First he goes around looking for the "Secret" of basketball, and that leads him, eventually, to a encounter with Isiah Thomas near a topless pool of a hotel. Then he goe quickly through the history of the league (and the ABA), throws some "what-ifs" in there, entertains us with the things he'd like to see change in the League. Then comes the big part, the pyramid of the 96 best players ever (which has changed since the book was released half a decade ago. You will not agree with everything, but its basis is pretty damn solid. He then talks about MVPs, greatest teams ever and the "Wine Cellar Team". And I know I'm missing a lot.

As you can tell, this book is freaking loaded. And that's not even all of it. You'll enjoy hundreds (I'm not kidding) of footnotes regarding everything from Teen Wolf, the biggest dicks in NBA lockers rooms, the Mokeski award for the best white american player, the Popeye Jones All-Stars for the ugliest players ever, many many jabs at Abdul-Jabbar, endless pop culture references and dozens of other small things such as these to make this book of the most enjoyable and fun reads around.

Read it, you certainly won't regret it.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Bill Simmons, AKA The Sports Guy, is obsessed with basketball. As Malcolm Gladwell points out in his forward to Simmons' mammoth Book of Basketball, Simmons is one of the few people in America who can afford to follow sports so closely that he can spend three years researching and writing the history of the NBA. The rest of us - we have jobs, spouses, hobbies, and sleep schedules. Some of us want to watch sports all the time, but we either feel guilty or we get in trouble for allowing them to dominate our lives. Myself, I have all day Sunday and Monday night. That's my time (though not all the time). I can sit down in front of the TV at 1 pm on Sunday, watch 10 hours of football, eat when I remember to, and then go to bed. The rest of the week, sports are mainly off limits. For Simmons, a man who has made himself wealthy as a sportswriter and podcasting pioneer, watching sports is his job.

In The Book of Basketball, Simmons makes it a point to right basketball history's wrongs. He corrects and expands the reader's perceptions about hundreds of players who have excelled at the game. In one lengthy section, he ranks the top 98 basketball players of all time, placing them into five levels of a excellence that accounts for the player's individual statistics, his team's success, and the era in which he played. In another chapter, he reviews the league's MVP award, telling us which players deserved to win that year and which did not, even pointing out the absolute travesties. Additionally, since his message through the book is that basketball is a team game based upon secret knowledge few players attain, he examines the best single season teams of all time.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He Gets It Jan. 9 2010
When deciding whether to buy this book or not, I went into a bookstore and opened the book at random. I opened to the page where he looks at the career of Dave DeBusschere. After reading that player evaluation, I knew that Bill Simmons understood basketball at a very deep level. Not many people understood how good DeBusschere was. He did. So I bought the book, bought 2 other copies for my sons, and sent a copy to a friend of mine from NY who also "understood." None of us could put the book down.
Did I agree with everything he wrote? No. Did it matter? No. This book is just a great read. Period.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I've never been this sad to finish a book Jan. 7 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It was just such a pleasure to devour. As a fellow basketball addict and pop culture fiend, this was the perfect book for me. Bill did a great job.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best book for basketball fans Oct. 11 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
One of the best book for basketball fans, yes you need to be open minded to accept all the jokes but this book is as smooth as butter in a fried pan!! Highly recommended
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back in the dorm Nov. 20 2009
By B Gray
This is a great great book -- made me an NBA fan again. Love Bill Simmons, one of the great professional smart alecks, who actually worked diligently at research for this tome, with very few errors beyond the odd editing 'whoops.' A warning to parents and grandparents -- this is sprinkled with college dorm humour -- as is all of Simmons's work -- with references to porn stars and lots of drug comments (well deserved) about the eighties and nineties in the league. But it's a wonderful read -- couldn't put it down.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining read May 13 2010
Simmons has written a fun, passionate, highly subjective, and entertaining book on NBA players and teams. His writing is deceptively good: its natural, conversational tone makes it a highly enjoyable read. Because it is a series of mini-essays, the reader can pick it up, read for 10 minutes, and put it down, to return to it later to peruse a different essay.
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