Friday, December 18, 2009

Day Eighteen: Basketball for All!

Welcome to Day Eighteen of The 24 Days of Books! In honor of the Portland Trail Blazers oh-so-impressive comeback victory last night over the Phoenix Suns, today we're going to talk BASKETBALL!! Specifically, two books. The first is The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy, by Bill Simmons. This monster of a book (more than 700 pages) is equal parts history and analysis. Simmons, a regular columnist on, summarizes the history of the league, discusses his personal fandom, analyzes Most Valuable Player choices through the years, and dissects the careers of the league's all-time best players.

He also includes a fascinating "What If" chapter that counts down the top thirty-three "what ifs" in NBA history, in reverse order, building up to #1: "What if the 1984 draft turned out differently?" The 1984 draft, you might recall, is the one in which the Trailblazers passed up on Michael Jordan and instead drafted Sam Bowie. (He also presents the "three great what-ifs in my life that don't involve women," the first being "What if I had gone west or south for college? This haunts me and will continue to haunt me until the day I die. I could have chosen a warm-weather school with hundreds of gorgeous sorority girls, and instead I went to an Irish Catholic school on a Worcester hill with bone-chilling 20-degree winds....")

This book would make a wonderful gift for the basketball fan on your list. And, while you're at it, take a look at When the Game was Ours, by Larry Bird and Earvin Magic Johnson, with Jackie MacMullan. This remarkable collaboration by two NBA legends recounts the decades long journey of their relationship, from bitter rivals to lifelong friends.

So, there you have it, two great gifts for the sports lover in your life. For many more gift-giving ideas, check out our gargantuan December newsletter, which you can read by clicking here.

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