ALAN v25n1 - The Library Connection- Nothing but Net:Basketball Books for Young Adults

Volume 24, Number 3
Spring 1997


Betty Carter, Editor

Texas Woman's University, Denton, Texas

Nothing but Net:Basketball Books for Young Adults

Edward T. Sullivan

The young adult collection at the West New Brighton Branch Library is heavily used by teenage readers year round, and I have observed that books about basketball are among the most popular with both male and female young adult readers of all ages. Nonfiction books about the sport and novels in which basketball figures prominently into the story are equally popular. Biographies of players are also enormously popular. Michael Jordan, in particular, is in such demand that all of the multiple copies of the dozen biographies the branch owns of him are constantly in circulation.

Given the great demand I have encountered for books about basketball, I was prompted to find out how many books on the subject of basketball are availabale for young adults. This annotated bibliography is the result of that research.

I have attempted to make this bibliography as comprehensive as possible. In the interest of currency, books published before 1980 are excluded. Books are divided into the following categories: autobiography and biography, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and reference.

Autobiography and Biography

Beahm, George W. Michael Jordan: Shooting Star. Kansas City, MO: Andrews and McMeel, 1994. 160 pp. Grades 7-12.

A solid biography of Jordan tracing his career from college to the NBA.

Bird, Larry, with Bob Ryan. Drive: The Story of My Life. New York: Doubleday, 1989. 259 pp. Grades 9-12.

A look at Bird's personal and professional life.

Carroll, Jim. The Basketball Diaries. New York: Bantam, 1978. 177pp. Grades 10-12.

Although basketball figures prominently in these diary entries, Carroll talks about much more. His experimentation with drugs and sexual experiences are also recounted in vivid, raw detail. A quick, riveting read sure to enthrall reluctant readers.

Cole, Lewis. Never Too Young To Die: The Death of Len Bias. New York: Pantheon, 1989. 252 pp. Grades 9-12.

Profiles the life and career of Len Bias tragically cut short by drug abuse.

Frankl, Ron. Wilt Chamberlain. New York: Chelsea House, 1994. 64 pp. Grades 6-10.

From the Basketball Legends series. A brief, generously illustrated profile best suited for middle and junior high school readers.

Greene, Bob. Hang Time: Days and Dreams with Michael Jordan. New York: Doubleday, 1992. 406 pp. Grades 10-12.

An adult biography lengthier than those written directly for young adults. It may appeal to older, more ambitious readers.

Gutman, Bill. Michael Jordan: Basketball to Baseball and Back. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook, 1995. 48 pp. Grades 4-8.

A thin book that does not say anything new. The best feature is several color action photographs. Perfect for reluctant readers.

_____ . Michael Jordan: A Biography. New York: Pocket, 1991. 142 pp. Grades 7-12.

A standard biography, well-written and very readable. Includes statistics on Jordan's college and professional career.

_____ . Shaquille O'Neal: A Biography. New York: Pocket, 1993. 130 pp. Grades 7-12.

Very much like Gutman's biography of Michael Jordan.

Iooss, Walter. Rare Air: Michael on Michael. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1993. 111 pp. Grades 5-12.

An excellent pictorial work profiling basketball superstar Michael Jordan at home and on the court. Particularly ideal for the most reluctant of readers.

Johnson, Earvin, with William Novak. My Life. New York: Random House, 1992. 329 pp. Grades 9-12.

Another adult biography that may appeal to older young adult readers.

Jordan, Michael. I'm Back!: More Rare Air. Photographs by Walter Iooss, Jr. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1995. 131 pp. Grades 6-12.

A sequel to Rare Air , this book is also generously illustrated with black and white and color photographs. Another excellent book to recommend to reluctant readers.

Knapp, Ron. Michael Jordan: Star Guard. Hillside, NJ: Enslow, 1994. 104 pp. Grades 6-12.

From the Sports Reports series. A profile of Jordan focusing primarily on his professional career.

_____ . Top Ten Basketball Centers. Hillside, NJ: Enslow, 1994. 48 pp. Grades 4-9.

From the Sports Top 10 series. Brief profiles of ten of the best basketball centers.

_____ . Top Ten Basketball Scorers. Hillside, NJ: Enslow, 1994. 48 pp. Grades 4-9.

From the Sports Top 10 series. Brief profiles of ten of the top scorers in basketball.

Kornbluth, Jesse. Airborne: The Triumph and Struggle of Michael Jordan. Macmillan, 1995. 164 pp. Grades 7-12.

A biography that looks at Jordan's professional and personal life, including his struggle to cope with the tragic murder of his father.

Lipsyte, Robert. Michael Jordan: A Life Above the Rim. New York: HarperCollins, 1994. 106 pp. Grades 7-12.

From the Superstar Lineup series. An above average series biography from the highly regarded author of young adult fiction and nonfiction.

Naughton, Jim. Taking to the Air: The Rise of Michael Jordan. New York: Warner, 1992. 264 pp. Grades 9-12.

An older biography, becoming outdated, that profiles Jordan's rise to become an NBA great.

O'Neal, Shaquille, with Jack McCallum. Shaq Attack! New York: Hyperion, 1993. 202 pp. Grades 7-12.

An entertaining autobiography in which Shaq talks about basketball and the fame and fortune it has brought to him.

Rappaport, Ken. Top 10 Basketball Legends. Hillside, NJ: Enslow, 1995. 48 pp. Grades 4-9.

From the Sports Top 10 series. Brief profiles of ten of the best players in the NBA.

Rodman, Dennis, with Tim Keown. Bad as I Wanna Be. New York: Delacorte, 1996. 259 pp. Grades 10-12.

Rodman is enoromously popular with young adults; and this autobiography, though written for adults, is being read by them.

Smith, Sam. Second Coming: The Strange Odyssey of Michael Jordan. New York: HarperCollins, 1995. 281 pp. Grades 9-12.

An adult biography that focuses on Jordan's professional career. Smith looks at Jordan's decision to leave basketball for minor league baseball, his brief lackluster career in it, and his triumphant return to basketball.

Sullivan, Michael John. Chris Mullin: Star Forward. Hillside, NJ: Enslow, 1994. 104 pp. Grades 7-12.

From the Sports Reports series. This biography focuses primarily on Mullin's NBA career.

Tallman, Edward. Shaquille O'Neal. New York: Dillon, 1994. 72 pp. Grades 6-10.

From the Taking Part series. A superficial but entertaining biography generously illustrated with color photographs.

Various Authors. Sports Great Books. Hillside, NJ: Enslow, 1989-.

This popular series covers celebrities from all sports. Typically, the books are under 70 pages and generously illustrated with black and white photographs. Written on a late elementary or middle school grade level, these books also appeal to older reluctant readers and, of course, to any sports fan. The texts briefly discuss the life and career of a player. The following is a list of those titles about basketball players:

Sports Great Charles Barkley

Sports Great Larry Bird

Sports Great Patrick Ewing

Sports Great Anfernee Hardaway

Sports Great Magic Johnson

Sports Great Michael Jordan

Sports Great Karl Malone

Sports Great Shaquille O'Neal

Sports Great David Robinson

Sports Great Dennis Rodman

Sports Great Isiah Thomas


Almon, Russell. The Kid Can't Miss. New York: Avon, 1992. 220 pp. Grades 6-10.

When the most losing team in ninth grade basketball begins winning at the hands of one pint-sized player whose basketball seems to have a mind of its own, the coach and everyone else cannot understand why.

Bennett, James W. The Squared Circle. New York: Scholastic, 1995. 247 pp. Grades 10-12.

Sonny, a university freshman and star basketball player, finds the pressures of college life, NCAA competition, and an unsettling relationship with his feminist cousin bring up painful memories that he must face before he can decide what is important in his life.

Brooks, Bruce. The Moves Make the Man. New York: Harper & Row, 1984. 280 pp. Grades 5-10.

In North Carolina, Jerome Foxworthy, a black boy, and Bix Rivers, an emotionally troubled white boy, form a precarious friendship. A 1985 Newbery Honor Book, this story is told against the backdrop of some of the best descriptions of basketball action ever written.

Cossi, Olga. The Magic Box. Gretna: Pelican, 1990. 191 pp. Grades 7-12.

A high school basketball player's smoking habit may get her disqualified from the big game.

Deuker, Carl. On the Devil's Court. New York: Avon, 1991. 252 pp. Grades 7-12.

Struggling with his feelings of inadequacy and his failure to make the basketball team in his new school, seventeen-year-old Joe Faust trades his soul with the Devil for one perfect season of basketball. An excellent means of introducing young adult readers to the Faustian legend.

Dygard, Thomas J. Outside Shooter. New York: Puffin, 1991. 189 pp. Grades 7-12.

Bobby Haggard is the Bulldog's best player, but his personality problems may mess up his career and ruin his team's chances of success.

_____ . The Rebounder. New York: Morrow Junior, 1994. 180 pp. Grades 7-12.

Doug Fulton, coach of the Hamilton High Panthers, is certain transfer student Chris Patton can lead the team to a championship. Unfortunately, a tragic accident makes Chris decide never to play basketabll again.

Hobbler, Thomas. The Revenge of Ho-Tai. New York: Walker, 1989. 203 pp. Grades 7-12.

When the basketball coach is replaced by the science teacher, who has some rather strange ideas, the team is skeptical.

Klass, David. Danger Zone. New York: Scholastic, 1996. 232 pp. Grades 9-12.

When Jimmy Doyle, a white kid from a small Minnesota town, is recruited to join a predominantly black "Teen Dream Team" that will represent the United States in an international basketball tournament in Rome, he makes some unexpected discoveries about prejudice, racism, and politics. Like Brooks's The Moves Make the Man, this novel contains brilliant descriptions of basketball action. Interestingly, both novels also tackle racism.

Marshall, Kirk. Hoops. New York: Ballantine, 1989-. Grades 5-9.

Hoops #1: Fast Breaks

Hoops #2: Long Shot Center

Hoops #3: Backboard Battle

Hoops #4: Half Court Hero

Hoops #5: Tourney Fever

An average series of basketball novels short in length and predictable in style and best suited for reluctant middle grade and junior high readers.

Myers, Walter Dean. Hoops. New York: Dell, 1983. 183 pp. Grades 7-12.

Lonnie, a talented basketball player, must choose between selling out his team to racketeers or keeping his integrity and taking them to the championship.

_____ . The Outside Shot. New York: Dell, 1987. 185 pp. Grades 7-12.

Recruited by a small midwestern college to play basketball, a boy from Harlem has many new, eye-opening experiences.

_____ . Slam! New York: Scholastic, 1996. 240 pp. Grades 7-12.

Seventeen-year-old "Slam" Harris is counting on his extraordinary basketball talents to get him out of the inner city and give him a chance to succeed in life, but his coach sees things differently.

Soto, Gary. Taking Sides. San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1991. 138 pp. Grades 6-10.

Fourteen-year-old Lincoln Mendoza, an aspiring basketball player must cope with the changes that come with moving from an Hispanic inner city to a white suburban neighborhood.

Weesner, Theodore. Winning the City. New York: Summitt, 1990. 208 pp. Grades 5-10.

A fifteen-year-old boy who dreams of winning the city league basketball tournament finds out how unfair life can be.


Anderson, Dave. The Story of Basketball. New York: Morrow, 1988. 182 pp. Grades 7-12.

An overview of the history of basketball from its beginning in 1891. Brief profiles of some notable players of modern times are also included.

Beard, Butch, with Glenn Popowitz and David Samson. Butch Beard's Basic Basketball: The Complete Player. New York: M. Kesend, 1985. 144 pp. Grades 6-12.

A comprehensive introduction to basketball strategies and techniques.

Blais, Madeleine. In These Girls, Hope is a Muscle. New York: Atlantic Monthly, 1995. 263 pp. Grades 7-12.

Profiles a year in the life of a winning high school girl's basketball team.

Brenner, Richard J. Make the Team, Basketball: A Slammin', Jammin' Guide to Super Hoops. Boston: Little, Brown, 1990. 125 pp. Grades 5-12.

Instructions for improving basketball skills, discussing dribbling, shooting, passing, defense and offense, and how to handle problems with coaches, parents, referees, and other players. A brief history of the sport is also included.

Campbell, Nelson, ed. Grass Roots and Schoolyards: A High School Basketball Anthology. Lexington, MA: Stephen Greene Press, 1988. 209 pp. Grades 9-12.

A collection of anecdotes, facts, trivia, and satire.

Duden, Jane and Susan Osberg. Basketball. New York: Crestwood House, 1991. 48 pp. Grades 4-8.

From the Sportslines series. A collection of facts, trivia, and statistics.

Dunnahoo, Terry Jansen, and Herma Silverstein. Basketball Hall of Fame. Silver Burdett, 1994. 48 pp. Grades 5-9.

From the Halls of Fame series. Details the history of rules of election to, and special exhibits on display at the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Frey, Darcy. The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1994. 230 pp. Grades 7-12.

New York City teams try to make it to the top.

Gandolfi, Giorgio, and Gerald Secor Couzens. Hoops!: The Official National Basketball Players Association Guide to Playing Basketball. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1987. 180 pp. Grades 7-12.

Official rules and regulations for playing basketball from the NBA.

George, Nelson. Elevating the Game: Black Men and Basketball. New York: HarperCollins, 1992. 261 pp. Grades 10-12.

Historical account of the contributions African-American men have made to the sport of basketball. Includes brief biographical profiles of major players.

Horenstein, Henry, with Brendan Boyd and Robert Garrett. Hoops: Behind the Scenes with the Boston Celtics. Boston: Little, Brown, 1989. 127 pp. Grades 7-12.

A look at the Boston Celtics on and off the court. Abundantly illustrated with photographs.

Isaacs, Neil David, and Dick Motta. Sports Illustrated Basketball: The Keys to Excellence. New York: Sports Illustrated, 1988. 111 pp. Grades 5-10.

From the Sports Illustrated Winner's Circle series. Advice on how to improve skills and techniques to become a better basketball player.

Jeremiah, Maryalyce. Basketball, the Woman's Game. North Palm Beach, FL: Athletic Institute, 1983. 79 pp. Grades 5-9.

From the Sports Publication series. Advice on developing basketball skills and techniques for young women.

Jones, Ron. B-Ball: The Team that Never Lost a Game. New York: Bantam, 1990. 153 pp. Grades 7-12.

Basketball in the Special Olympics.

Joravsky, Ben. Hoop Dreams: A True Story of Hardship and Triumph. Atlanta: Turner, 1995. 301 pp. Grades 7-12.

In tough inner city Chicago, basketball can mean everything to young men.

Lazenby, Roland, with David Meador and Ed Green. Championship Basketball: Top College Coaches Present their Winning Strategies, Tips, and Techniques for Players and Coaches. Chicago: Contemporary, 1987. 165 pp. Grades 9-12.

Some of the best college basketball coaches in the country offer advice and insight into what are their secrets of success.

Miller, Faye Young, and Wayne Coffey. Winning Basketball for Girls. New York: Facts on File, 1992. 138 pp. Grades 6-12.

An introduction to the techniques and strategies of girl's basketball.

Mullooly, Patrick. The Signet Ultimate Basketball Quiz Book. New York: Penguin, 1993. 176 pp. Grades 5-12.

A collection of quizzes on basketball history and assorted trivia.

Nash, Bruce M., and Allan Zullo. The Basketball Hall of Shame. New York: Pocket, 1991. 1995 pp. Grades 5-12.

A playful look at embarrassing moments from basketball.

Pim, Ralph L. Winning Basketball: Techniques and Drills for Playing Better Basketball. Chicago: Contemporary, 1994. 177 pp. Grades 5-12.

An introduction to offensive techniques and strategies.

Pruitt, Jim. Play Better Basketball: An Illustrated Guide to Winning Techniques and Strategies for Players and Coaches. Chicago: Contemporary, 1982. 152 pp. Grades 6-12.

More advice on developing the skills and techniques needed to become a winning player.

Rivers, Glenn, and Bruce Brooks. Those Who Love the Game: Glenn "Doc" Rivers on Life in the NBA and Elsewhere. New York: Holt, 1993. 159 pp. Grades 6-12.

A veteran NBA player speaks with great affection about the sport he loves.

St. Martin, Ted, with Frank Frangie. The Art of Shooting Baskets: From the Free Throw to the Slam Dunk. Chicago: Contemporary, 1992. 118 pp. Grades 6-12.

Illustrated step-by-step instructions for both technical and psychological strategies to winning basketball.

Stauth, Cameron. The Golden Boys: The Unauthorized Inside Look at the U.S. Olympic Basketball Team. New York: Pocket, 1992. 288 pp. Grades 9-12.

An unofficial look at Olympic basketball.

Sullivan, George. All About Basketball. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1991. 160 pp. Grades 5-12.

An overview of the history and the rules of basketball, including discussions of various plays and profiles of famous players.

Withers, Tom. Basketball. Illus. Art Sheiden. Austin, TX: Raintree Steck-Vaughn, 1994. 48 pp. Grades 4-9.

Another "how to" book on strategies and techniques for younger or reluctant readers.


Morrison, Lillian, comp. Slam Dunk: Basketball Poems. Illus. Bill James. New York: Hyperion, 1995. 64 pp. Grades 6-12.

An illustrated anthology of poetry celebrating the sport of basketball.


Douchat, Mike. Encyclopedia of College Basketball. New York: Gale, 1995. 615 pp. Grades 6-12.

Alphabetically arranged entries cover the history of college basketball, assorted facts, statistics, and brief profiles of players.

Sachare, Alex, ed. The Official NBA Basketball Encyclopedia. 2nd ed. New York: Villard, 1994. 842 pp. Grades 6-12.

The official encyclopedia of the National Basketball Association. Alphabetically arranged entries include historical information, statistics, and brief profiles of players.

Edward T. Sullivan is Young Adult Librarian for the neighborhood branch of the New York Public Library in Staten Island. Before becoming a young adult librarian, he taught high school and college English in the Memphis area. An active member of ALA, he is a current member of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) Best Books for Young Adults Committee.

Copyright 1997. The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English (ISSN #0882-2840). Permission is given to copy any article provided credit is given and the copies are not intended for resale in any form.

Reference Citation: Sullivan, Edward T. (1997). Nothing but net: Basketball books for young adults. The ALAN Review , Volume 24, Number 3, 53-56.

by Zulfia Imtiaz