Books By Basketball Players


In general, the best way to improve your basketball game is to get out there on the courts. Yet sometimes this isn’t possible.


Injuries happen, leaving you laid up for weeks with no way to practice. Bad weather can also force you indoors, leaving you unable to play without taking big risks with your body.


If you can only look at a basketball hoop and dream of playing, the good news is you don’t have to waste that time away from the court.


Instead, you can open up a book written by one of the masters, and learn from their first hand experience how to improve your game.


Who Should Get These Books?


If you’re passionate about books, cracking open one of these books will delight and amaze you.


These books are also good for people who simply enjoy sports however, or are curious about the rise to popularity for some of our greatest basketball players.


Most of these books have surprisingly relatable stories. Just like you or me, every one of the famous players who made it to the stop struggled to get there.


They may also cover other topics besides basketball, but still keep to the same general theme.


If you enjoy reading, or have a passion for basketball, these books will be a great choice for your home library.


Top 13 Best Books By Basketball Players 


1. I’ll Show You – Derrick Rose and Sam Smith


I'll Show You

Derrick Rose has lived a life that many basketball players can only dream of.


He rose in stature from someone who simply loved the game, to one of the most incredible athletes of all time.


His meteoric rise to fame lead him to become the youngest MVP in history, and he quickly earned Rookie of the Year at the start of his career.


Unfortunately, his body began to fail him.


He needed four knee surgeries just to keep playing, and the man who was once one of the most coveted players in the NBA was waived by the Utah Jazz.


It could have been the end of a career, but for Derrick Rose himself.


Where other players might have given up on themselves, Derrick Rose never did.


He showed the world what he was capable of in a masterful reemergence that took the NBA by surprise.


I’ll Show You is a personal account about Derrick Rose and his struggles.


This intimate account of his life feels as personal as looking into his diary, and talks about growing up in a high crime neighborhood, choices he had to make, and his adventures in the NBA.


If you have ever doubted yourself, if you love Derrick Rose, or if you simply want a masterfully written book to entertain you, I’ll Show You is it.


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2. The Mamba Mentality: How I Play – Kobe Bryant

The Mamba Mentality: How I Play

If you’ve ever wished you could be coached on a personal level by a professional basketball player, this book will bring you about as close as you can come.


After retiring from the NBA, Kobe Bryant decided to put all of his advice and knowledge into a book to share with those who want to follow in his footsteps.


The result is The Mamba Mentality: How I Play. It covers everything in detail.


How to mentally and physically prepare for a game, and how to not just succeed, but excel at the sport.


Kobe Bryant gets incredibly detailed in the book, breaking down each play so well that you’ll have no problem picturing it in your head or practicing it later.


If that wasn’t enough, the book is filled with stunning photography from Hall of Fame photographer Andrew D. Bernstein.


Andrew D. Bernstein and Kobe Bryant had a very special relationship. Bernstein took Bryant’s very first NBA photo, and also his last.


They had a partnership that lasted 20 years, and some of that intimacy comes out in the beautiful photos that illustrate the book.


If you truly want to up your game and get coaching from a legend, this is the book you should turn to.


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3. Shaq Uncut: My story

Shaq Uncut: My Story

You would be hard pressed to find a basketball player more famous than Shaquille O’Neil.


This incredible basketball player has truly wracked up a performance for the ages, from his 15 All-Star appearances, to the 28,596 career points, 13,099 rebounds, 3,026 assists and 2,732 blocks that made up his impressive career.


Yet there’s so much more to Shaq than simply his NBA career, and that’s what this book is all about.


He talks about basketball, but also how he got cut from his high school basketball team.


Topics range from rapping and a TV show he hosted, to pursuing a PhD and serving as a reserve police officer.


He also talks about the basketball players he has played with, giving a new perspective to some of the famous celebrities we have known and loved over the years.


This book is a wonderful look at the full life of a famous athlete like Shaq, from the important and obvious things such as great plays, to the tiny details that make them so much more like you or me.


If you want the full story on a basketball player, Shaq Uncut is it.


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4. Driven From Within – Michael Jordan

Driven from Within

Even if you’re not a basketball fan, you know about Michael Jordan.


Jordan was special, because not only was he an incredible basketball player, his personality and celebrity spilled over outside the world of sports.


This book talks about his rise to fame, but more importantly how he got there.


Michael Jordan is as popular in the world of fashion as he is in sports, but he doesn’t take all the credit for himself.


Instead, he talks about the people who helped him get there, and how their role in his life made him who he is.


This book talks about a little bit of everything, from the importance of teamwork to skill development and even competitiveness.


If you’re looking for a chance to sit down with Michael Jordan and listen to him talk about his life, and a little splash of everything, this book is perfect.


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5. LeBron’s Dream Team – Lebron James

LeBron's Dream Team: How Four Friends and I Brought a Championsip Home

It’s very rare that you read a story from a famous athlete that doesn’t revolve almost exclusively around themselves.


This is normal—we’re interested in the book because of the outlandish success of the person who wrote it.


We want to know how to become that person, not the sidekick of that person.


Yet LeBron’s story is more intricately woven around teamwork than most others.


He formed a bond with his 4 friends early in his career, and they vowed that together they would take a National Championship.


Their story is full of twists and turns, and yes, failures. Their first attempt at a championship sent them home early, but it didn’t discourage them from trying.


This book talks about their successes and failures, and so much more.


This group of friends, self labeled “The Dream Team” had to deal with social problems, Lebron’s own fame, and so much more in order to stay together and work towards their championship.


This book talks about their eventual success, and is a heartwarming tale of true bonding in the realm of sports.


LeBron’s Dream Team is a must read. It is a wonderful book that will inspire you to go on and do great things with your own friends.


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6. The Sixth Man: A Memoir

The Sixth Man: A Memoir

Andre Iguodala is an amazing basketball player. An NBA powerhouse, he has become one of the greatest NBA players of this era.


Iguodala isn’t just about the game however, he is one of the most respected men in the NBA, on and off the court.


This book isn’t just about basketball. It’s about Andre Iguodala as a person. It talks a little bit about race, about the wear and tear of the body, and what is demanded of athletes.


It also talks about the pursuit of more when you’ve already reached the top of your game.


This is a very important read for anyone who cares about basketball. This is especially important in today’s world just now coming to grips with the struggles of race around the world.


It is a real and intimate book that holds nothing back.


This book isn’t just about being a great basketball player, but about what it means to grow up black, and also what it means to break out of the endless cycle many black people face.


It’s well worth a read, no matter who you are or what you came from.


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7. From The Outside: My Journey Through Life And The Game I Love

From the Outside: My Journey Through Life and the Game I Love

Ray Allen is currently the record-holding two-time National Basketball Association champion.


He has played in the NBA for 18 years, and played alongside some of the greatest NBA players of all time.


This in-depth memoir tells you every detail of his life, and lets you feel what it’s like to step into his shoes.


In this book, Ray Allen talks openly about his life.


It gives you a surprising new look at the games he’s played, including behind-the-scenes moments and detailed information that truly helps you understand him and the game of basketball better.


You’ll also get to hear about his teammates and coaches from Ray Allen’s perspective. He talks openly about Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and more.


The book will leave you with some wonderful life lessons, such as the need for commitment and devotion to the game.


It’s a great way to learn a new perspective about basketball, and about respect and other morals as well.


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8. When The Game Was Ours – Larry Bird

When the Game Was Ours

Larry Bird is a basketball player who needs no introduction. The famous athlete is best known for directly competing with Magic Johnson—and winning as often as not.


Larry Bird and Magic Johnson was a clash of the Titans that captivated fans. Two incredible players the likes of which the world had never seen.


Their contrasting play styles, team colors, and even race were part of sports talk the entirety of their careers.


These two were passionate rivals, without a doubt—but they eventually became friends.


It might seem impossible for two people who fight so hard against each other to come out as lifelong friends who enjoy each others company.


When The Game Was Ours discusses this rivalry, and talks about their opposition, how they started out as bitter rivals, and what happened to change that.


The book paints an intimate portrait of this iconic time in basketball’s history, and gives us inside look at these moments from one of those rivals.


If you love basketball, or simply admire these two great warriors in basketball history, this book is a wonderful read that will keep you on the edge of your seat.


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9. Coach Wooden and Me: Our 50-Year Friendship On and Off the Court – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Coach Wooden and Me: Our 50-Year Friendship On and Off the Court

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is one of the most famous basketball players in NBA history, but he might not have gotten the chances that he did without Coach Wooden.


Their relationship began when Kareem was admitted to UCLA for the most part because Coach Wooden recommended him.


Of course, Coach Wooden made the right choice. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar brought no less than three NCAA championships home, and his story only grew from there.


What came of it wasn’t just gratitude for the coach however, but an unlikely friendship that would span over 5 decades.


This book is a tribute to that relationship, and covers some of the most intimate moments of their friendship.


The story starts at the very beginning, and talks about a full range of problems from putting on basketball socks properly, to the racism that many black basketball players face.


Through the book, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar talks about Coach Wooden as a father figure, and how his views and advice would help Kareem become the successful player that he was.


Some of the stories in this book you may be familiar with, but others are behind-the-scenes moments you’ll never know about unless you pick up this book.


It’s a worthy read, whether you are a basketball player, or simply someone who appreciates the power of a strong friendship.


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10. I Love Being The Enemy – Reggie Miller

I Love Being the Enemy

One of the sharpest tongues in the sport was Reggie Miller, a scrappy player known for talking back and getting into dust ups with opponents on the court.


He was particularly feisty against the New York Knicks, which lead to a nickname, “The Knicks Killer” being applied to him.


In this book, you’ll get an inside look at Reggie Miller’s mind, and how he uses the power of his mind to go toe to toe with some of the toughest players in the NBA and win.


To Reggie, basketball is as much a mind game as it is a physical contest; a mind game he is determined to win.


He talks about the power of will, and how it can be as advantageous as real talent—perhaps better—in some cases.


This book follows Reggie Miller for a season, and helps you see inside his mind, so you can play the same mental games he does, and improve your own performance.


It’s a solid book that will help you in your own performance, as well as give you a detailed look at the sport in general.


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11. The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams

The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams

It’s no secret that many of our favorite basketball players come from difficult situations.


Many of them grew up in high crime neighborhoods, faced difficult decisions between sports and drugs, lost their parents and loved ones to gun violence, and even got into trouble themselves.


This book takes a hard look at the troubles many African American children face, with basketball being one of the few ways they can safely break out of poverty and crime.


It paints a raw pictures of the reality of growing up poor, and the problems faced by inner-city kids today.


The four children in this book struggle against a variety of issues, including gaps in their education, parents who don’t care, and struggles with advisors that often send them down the wrong path.


This book isn’t just for basketball fans, but for anyone who enjoys a good story. The story has more plot to it than a typical sports story, but still reflects the game well.


Although the names in this book are a bit dated, the story itself rings as true today as it did when the book was first published. Perhaps more so.


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12. Hoop Dreams: True Story of Hardship and Triumph

Hoop Dreams: True Story of Hardship and Triumph, The

This inspiring true story is the book form of a project that involved following two basketball players over the course of 5 years.


During that time 250 hours of their lives were filmed, starting on the playgrounds and moving through their high school and college years.


The result of this project was an award-winning documentary you may have seen. Now the journalist behind the project is here to talk about it in detail.


The book reveals a lot about the basketball players in the film.


Through this film, you learn in detail just how hard it is to become a pro. Hard work and dedication can certainly help get you there, but you also need a certain spark.


It also talks a little bit about the dreams of young boys, and how their goal isn’t just to play basketball—but to escape the ghettos.


It’s an inspiring story that really makes you think.


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13. Can I Keep My Jersey?: 11 Teams, 5 Countries, and 4 Years in My Life as a Basketball Vagabond

Can I Keep My Jersey?: 11 Teams, 5 Countries, and 4 Years in My Life as a Basketball Vagabond

One of the most well traveled basketball players in the world is Paul Shirley. He has logged more hours playing the game in more places than virtually anyone else.


He has played in 6 NBA cities, as well as pro leagues in Spain, Greece, and even Siberia.


This story is a humorous account of his life, as he searches for a team where he can finally “keep his jersey.”


This book isn’t just a great story about basketball, it’s hilarious to its core.


He talks about everything from which teams have the best cheerleaders (he’s had a lot of time to look sitting on the sidelines) to how to get bloodstains out of your jersey.


This refreshing romp is a great read after so many heavy, serious books on basketball.


If you love basketball but also simply want to be entertained, this is the way to go.


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Useful Reading Tips


These books are some of the most captivating in the world of sports, but if you’re not naturally a reader it can be difficult to get the most out of them.


Luckily, there are a few things you can do to help improve your reading experience, so you can get the most out of your book.


If you start your new book and find yourself struggling to get into it, give it a little time.


Some books take longer than others to become interesting, and you may simply need a little bit longer before you are drawn in.


Use a bookmark when you are finished reading for the day so you don’t lose your place. It can be frustrating when you have a moment to read, but can’t find the place where you left off at.


You can also use a bookmark to help you keep track of what line you are on as you are reading, which is helpful if you have problems with eye tracking that make reading difficult.


Final Words


If you are passionate about basketball, chances are you have spent many hours in practice trying to improve your game.


Many sports fanatics will do anything they can to become better at the sport—but they neglect books as a potential method of improving their game.


Books from the greatest basketball players of all time are like a window into their minds.


Wouldn’t we all love the opportunity to sit down, or better yet get on the courts, with Kobe Bryant? Through these books, you’ll have the opportunity.


Even if you’re simply a sports fan and prefer to cheer from the sidelines, these books are a great way to connect with past and current greats in the game we have all come to know and love.

  1. I honestly haven’t read any books by basketball players so I’m glad you put this list together.  I’m a big fan of the game so I’ll probably check out at least 1-3 of these books. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. I think all books written by someone who has achieved success in any area or industry are great inspiration and basketball players are no exception. I’d love to read the book by Kobe Bryant and the one written by Shaquille O’Neill must be also very interesting. I’m sure all of these books are good.

    Which one of these books is your favorite one?

    My first motivational book was actually Arnold Schwarzenegger’s life story, I read it when I was about 20 and it helped me change my attitude a lot. I know he’s not a basketball player but he was one of the most successful bodybuilders of all time.

    I like your tips at the end of your article as well. You are right that sometimes it takes time to get into it. I remember that once I couldn’t get into a book that later became one of my favorite books. It took me several times to get over the first few pages!

    • Hi Lenka,

      Thanks for stopping by to leave such a nice comment. I’d have to say my favorite one is by Derrick Rose – I’ll Show You (that’s why I made him No. 1 🙂 ) I love his story about how he beat the odds of growing up in Englewood with so much negativity surrounding him. It was a very good read.

      By the way, I’ve also read Arnold Schwarzenegger’s life story. It was very motivational and I was inspired by how competitive he was when it came to every industry he entered into. He was always willing to do more than his opponents which is what set him apart.

      And I hear you about the timing issue. There’s another book I have called Compound Effect which I haven’t read yet but I know it’s going to be good. I’ve had it for several months but I’m just waiting for the right time and mood.

      Thanks again for stopping by!


  3. Hi,

    I’m glad your list is mainly composed of basketball player autobiographies instead of coaching or strategy books. I love knowing exactly what’s going on in the mind of a basketball player and I feel as if there’s certain traits they have we may otherwise never learn about if we don’t hear it straight from the horse’s mouth.

    You did a fine job putting this list together.


    • Hi there,

      I’m happy you enjoyed the list, and I know what you mean. I enjoy figuring out what drives people to become champions and it’s better to find this out through an autobiography due to the uniqueness of certain players. Thanks for stopping by to comment!



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