March 4, 2014,
The New York Times bestselling author of Sweetness delivers the first all-encompassing account of the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers, one of professional sports’ most-revered — and dominant — dynasties.
The Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s personified the flamboyance and excess of the decade over which they reigned. Beginning with the arrival of Earvin “Magic” Johnson as the number-one overall pick of the 1979 draft, the Lakers played basketball with gusto and pizzazz, unleashing their famed “Showtime” run-and-gun style on a league unprepared for their speed and ferocity — and became the most captivating show in sports and, arguably, in all-around American entertainment. The Lakers’ roster overflowed with exciting all-star-caliber players, including center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and they were led by the incomparable Pat Riley, known for his slicked-back hair, his Armani suits, and his arrogant strut. Hollywood’s biggest celebrities lined the court and gorgeous women flocked to the arena. Best of all, the team was a winner. Between 1980 and 1991, the Lakers played in an unmatched nine NBA championship series, capturing five of them.
Bestselling sportswriter Jeff Pearlman draws from almost three hundred interviews to take the first full measure of the Lakers’ epic Showtime era. A dazzling account of one of America’s greatest sports sagas, Showtime is packed with indelible characters, vicious rivalries, and jaw-dropping, behind-the-scenes stories of the players’ decadent Hollywood lifestyles.
From the Showtime era’s remarkable rise to its tragic end — marked by Magic Johnson’s 1991 announcement that he had contracted HIV — Showtime is a gripping narrative of sports, celebrity, and 1980s-style excess.
Blue Rider Press
A bare-knuckled, tell-all memoir from Mike Tyson, the onetime heavyweight champion of the world—and a legend both in and out of the ring. Philosopher, Broadway headliner, fighter, felon—Mike Tyson has defied stereotypes, expectations, and a lot of conventional wisdom during his three decades in the public eye. Bullied as a boy in the toughest, poorest neighborhood in Brooklyn, Tyson grew up to become one of the most thrilling and ferocious boxers of all time—and the youngest heavyweight champion ever. But his brilliance in the ring was often compromised by reckless behavior. Years of hard partying, violent fights, and criminal proceedings took their toll: by 2003, Tyson had hit rock bottom, a convicted felon, completely broke, the punch line to a thousand bad late-night jokes. Yet he fought his way back; the man who once admitted being addicted “to everything” regained his success, his dignity, and the love of his family.
With a triumphant one-man stage show, his unforgettable performances in the Hangover films, and his new found happiness and stability as a father and husband, Tyson’s story is an inspiring American original. Brutally honest, raw, and often hilarious, Tyson chronicles his tumultuous highs and lows in the same sincere, straightforward manner we have come to expect from this legendary athlete. A singular journey from Brooklyn’s ghettos to worldwide fame to notoriety, and, finally, to a tranquil wisdom, Undisputed Truth is not only a great sports memoir but an autobiography for the ages.
Many people came to Goldfield, Nevada, America’s last gold-rush town, to seek their fortune. However, on a searing summer day in September 1906, they came not to strike it rich but to watch what would become the longest boxing match of the twentieth century — between Joe Gans, the first African American boxing champion, and “Battling” Nelson, a vicious and dirty brawler. It was a match billed as the battle of the races.
In The Longest Fight, the longtime Washington Post sports correspondent William Gildea tells the story of this epic match, which would stretch to forty-two rounds and last two hours and forty-eight minutes. A new rail line brought spectators from around the country, dozens of reporters came to file blow-by-blow accounts, and an entrepreneurial crew’s film of the fight, shown in theaters shortly afterward, endures to this day.
The Longest Fight also recounts something much greater — the longer battle that Gans fought against prejudice as the premier black athlete of his time. It is a portrait of life in black America at the turn of the twentieth century, of what it was like to be the first black athlete to successfully cross the nation’s gaping racial divide. Gans was smart, witty, trim, and handsome — with one-punch knockout power and groundbreaking defensive skills — and his courage despite discrimination prefigured the strife faced by many of America’s finest athletes, including Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, and Muhammad Ali.
Inside the ring and out, Gans took the first steps for the African American athletes who would follow, and yet his role in history was largely forgotten until now. The Longest Fight is a reminder of the damage caused by the bigotry that long outlived Gans, and the strength, courage, and will of those who fought to rise above.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
June 19, 2012
When Meb Keflezighi won the New York City Marathon in 2009 — the first American to do so in 27 years — some critics questioned whether the Eritrean-born runner was “really” an American despite his citizenship status and representing the USA on two Olympic and several World Championship teams. Yet Meb is the living embodiment of the American dream. His family came to the U.S. to escape from a life of poverty and a violent war with Ethiopia; Meb was 12 at the time, spoke no English, and had never raced a mile. Yet he became an A student and a high school state and national champion. And when he stood on the platform as a silver medalist in the 2004 Olympics, Meb knew his hard work and determination had paid off. How could life be any better?
Then it all came crashing down. Meb, a favorite for the Beijing Olympics, fractured his pelvis during the trials and was left literally crawling. His close friend and fellow marathoner suffered a cardiac arrest at the trials and died that same day. Devastated, Meb was about to learn whether his faith in God, the values his parents had taught him, and his belief that he was born to run were enough to see him through.
Run to Overcome tells the inspirational story of a man who discovered the real meaning of victory, and who embodies the American spirit of overcoming the odds.
Run to Overcome: : The Inspiring Story of an American Champion’s Long-Distance Quest to Achieve a Big Dream
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
- Shaq Uncut: My Story by Shaquille O’Neal
(Grand Central Publishing, 2011-11-15, Hardcover)
Superman. Diesel. The Big Aristotle. Shaq Fu. The Big Daddy. The Big Shaqtus. Wilt Chamberneezy. The Real Deal. The Big Shamrock. Shaq. You know him by any number of names, and chances are you know all about his legendary basketball career: Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neal is a four-time NBA champion and a three-time NBA Finals MVP. After being an All-American at Louisiana State University, he was the overall number one draft pick in the NBA in 1992. In his 19-year career, Shaq racked up 28,596 career points (including 5,935 free throws!), 13,099 rebounds, 3,026 assists, 2,732 blocks, and 15 All-Star appearances.
These are statistics that are almost as massive as the man himself. His presence-both physically and psychologically-made him a dominant force in the game for two decades.But if you follow the game, you also know that there’s a lot more to Shaquille O’Neal than just basketball. Shaq is famous for his playful, and at times, provocative personality. He is, literally, outsize in both scale and persona. Whether rapping on any of his five albums, challenging celebrities on his hit television show “Shaq Vs.,” studying for his PhD or serving as a reserve police officer, there’s no question that Shaq has led a unique and multi-dimensional life. And in this rollicking new autobiography, Shaq discusses his remarkable journey, including his candid thoughts on teammates and coaches like Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Phil Jackson, and Pat Riley.
From growing up in difficult circumstances and getting cut from his high school basketball team to his larger-than-life basketball career, Shaq lays it all out in SHAQ UNCUT: MY STORY.
- West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life by Jerry West
(Little, Brown and Company, 2011-10-19, Hardcover)
He is one of basketball’s towering figures: “Mr. Clutch,” who mesmerized his opponents and fans. The coach who began the Lakers’ resurgence in the 1970s. The general manager who helped bring “Showtime” to Los Angeles, creating a championship-winning force that continues to this day. Now, for the first time, the legendary Jerry West tells his story-from his tough childhood in West Virginia, to his unbelievable college success at West Virginia University, his 40-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, and his relationships with NBA legends like Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe Bryant. Unsparing in its self-assessment and honesty, WEST BY WEST is far more than a sports memoir: it is a profound confession and a magnificent inspiration.
- Basketball Junkie: A Memoir by Chris Herren
(St. Martin’s Press, 2011-05-10, Hardcover)
I was dead for thirty seconds.That’s what the cop in Fall River told me. When the EMTs found me, there was a needle in my arm and a packet of heroin in the front seat.At basketball-crazy Durfee High School in Fall River, Massachusetts, junior guard Chris Herren carried his family’s and the city’s dreams on his skinny frame. His grandfather, father, and older brother had created their own sports legends in a declining city; he was the last, best hope for a career beyond the shuttered mills and factories. Herren was heavily recruited by major universities, chosen as a McDonald’s All-American, featured in a Sports Illustrated cover story, and at just seventeen years old became the central figure in Fall River Dreams, an acclaimed book about the 1994 Durfee team’s quest for the state championship.
Leaving Fall River for college, Herren starred on Jerry Tarkanian’s Fresno State Bulldogs team of talented misfits, which included future NBA players as well as future convicted felons. His gritty, tattooed, hip-hop persona drew the ire of rival fans and more national attention: Rolling Stone profiled him, 60 Minutes interviewed him, and the Denver Nuggets drafted him. When the Boston Celtics acquired his contract, he lived the dream of every Massachusetts kid—but off the court Herren was secretly crumbling, as his alcohol and drug use escalated and his life spiraled out of control.
Twenty years later, Chris Herren was married to his high-school sweetheart, the father of three young children, and a heroin junkie. His basketball career was over, consumed by addictions; he had no job, no skills, and was a sadly familiar figure to those in Fall River who remembered him as a boy, now prowling the streets he once ruled, looking for a fix. One day, for a time he cannot remember, he would die.
In his own words, Chris Herren tells how he nearly lost everything and everyone he loved, and how he found a way back to life. Powerful, honest, and dramatic, Basketball Junkie is a remarkable memoir, harrowing in its descent, and heartening in its return.
- When the Garden Was Eden: Clyde, the Captain, Dollar Bill, and the Glory Days of the New York Knicks by Harvey Araton
(Harper, 2011-10-18, Hardcover)
The late 1960s and early 1970s, in New York City and America at large, were years marked by political tumult, social unrest—and the best professional basketball ever played. Paradise, for better or worse, was a hardwood court in Midtown Manhattan. When the Garden Was Eden is the definitive account of how the New York Knickerbockers won their first and only championships, and in the process provided the nation no small escape from the Vietnam War, the tragedy at Kent State, and the last vestiges of Jim Crow. The Knicks were more than a team; they were a symbol of harmony, the sublimation of individual personalities for the greater collective good. No one is better suited to revive the old chants of “Dee-fense!” that rocked Madison Square Garden or the joy that radiated courtside than Harvey Araton, who has followed the Knicks, old and new, for decades—first as a teenage fan, then as a young sports reporter with the New York Post, and now as a writer and columnist for the New York Times. Araton has traveled to the Louisiana home of the Captain, Willis Reed (after writing a column years earlier that led to his abrupt firing as the Knicks’ short-lived coach); he has strolled the lush gardens of Walt “Clyde” Frazier’s St. Croix oasis; discussed the politics of that turbulent era with Senator Bill Bradley; toured Baltimore’s church basement basketball leagues with Black Jesus himself, Earl “the Pearl” Monroe; played memory games with Jerry “the Brain” Lucas; explored the Tao of basketball with Phil “Action” Jackson; and sat through eulogies for Dave DeBusschere, the lunch-bucket, 23-year-old player-coach lured from Detroit, and Red Holzman, the scrappy Jewish guard who became a coaching legend. In When the Garden Was Eden, Araton not only traces the history of New York’s beloved franchise—from Ned Irish to Spike Lee to Carmelo Anthony—but profiles the lives and careers of one of sports’ all-time great teams, the Old Knicks. With measured prose and shoe-leather reporting, Araton relives their most glorious triumphs and bitter rivalries, and casts light on a time all but forgotten outside of pregame highlight reels and nostalgic reunions—a time when the Garden, Madison Square, was its own sort of Eden.
- The Whore of Akron: One Man’s Search for the Soul of LeBron James by Scott Raab
(Harper, 2011-11-15, Hardcover)
“If there was an opportunity for me to return to Cleveland and those fans welcomed me back, that’d be a great story.”—Lebron James Scott Raab is a last vestige of Gonzo Journalism in an era when sanitary decorum reigns. Crude but warmhearted, poetic but raving, Raab has chronicled—at GQ and Esquire—everything from nights out with the likes of Tupac and Mickey Rourke to a moral investigation into Holocaust death-camp guard Ivan the Terrible to the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site, but the book you hold in your hands is neither a story nor a job: The Whore of Akron is the product of lifelong suffering, and a mission bound with the meaning of existence. Raab sat in the lower bowl of Cleveland Stadium on December 27, 1964, when the Browns defeated the Colts for the NFL World Championship—the last sports title the declining city has won. He still carries his ticket stub wherever he goes, safely tucked within a Ziploc bag. The glory of that triumph is an easy thing to forget—each generation born in Cleveland is another generation removed from that victory; an entire fan base “whose daily bread has forever tasted of ash.” LeBron James was supposed to change all that. A native son of Akron, he was already world famous by the age of seventeen, had already graced the cover of Sports Illustrated, was already worth $90 million to Nike. He seemed like a miracle heaven-sent by God to transform Cleveland’s losing ways. That the Cavaliers drafted him, the hometown prodigy, with the first pick of the 2003 draft, seemed nothing short of destiny. But after seven years—and still no parade down Euclid Avenue—he left. And he left in a way that seemed designed to twist the knife: announcing his move to South Beach on a nationally televised ESPN production with a sly title (“The Decision”) that echoed fifty years of Cleveland sports futility. Out of James’s treachery grew a monster. Raab, a fifty-nine-year-old, 350-pound, Jewish Santa Claus with a Chief Wahoo tattoo, would bear witness to LeBron’s every move, and in doing so would act as the eyes and ears of Cleveland itself. (He did not keep this intentions a secret and was promptly banned by the Miami Heat.) The Whore of Akron is an indictment of a traitorous athlete and the story of Raab’s hilarious, profane (and profound) quest to reveal the “wee jewel-box” of LeBron James’s very soul.
- The Ecstasy of Defeat: Sports Reporting at Its Finest by the Editors of the Onion by Editors of The Onion
(Hyperion, 2011-10-11, Paperback)
The Sports Page As You’ve Never Seen It Before From painfully obvious steroid revelations to sex scandals and superstars who announce trades in over-the-top TV specials, the wide world of sports can often seem too ridiculous for words. Well, attention sports fans: In The Ecstasy of Defeat, the editors of The Onion offer the laugh-out-loud funny and long overdue lampoon of sports culture you’ve been waiting for. Filled with the very best of The Onion’s bench-clearing sports coverage. No topic escapes the satirical slap of America’s Finest News Source, and the book covers not only mainstream sports–such as baseball, basketball, and football–but also lesser sports, sports culture, and special events like the World Cup and the Olympics. Featuring all the players, teams, and sports we love–and love to hate–The Ecstasy of Defeat is a must-read for sports nuts and Onion fans alike.
- Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won by Tobias J. Moskowitz
(Crown Archetype, 2011-01-25, Hardcover)
In Scorecasting, University of Chicago behavioral economist Tobias Moskowitz teams up with veteran Sports Illustrated writer L. Jon Wertheim to overturn some of the most cherished truisms of sports, and reveal the hidden forces that shape how basketball, baseball, football, and hockey games are played, won and lost.Drawing from Moskowitz’s original research, as well as studies from fellow economists such as bestselling author Richard Thaler, the authors look at: the influence home-field advantage has on the outcomes of games in all sports and why it exists; the surprising truth about the universally accepted axiom that defense wins championships; the subtle biases that umpires exhibit in calling balls and strikes in key situations; the unintended consequences of referees’ tendencies in every sport to “swallow the whistle,” and more.Among the insights that Scorecasting reveals: Why Tiger Woods is prone to the same mistake in high-pressure putting situations that you and I are Why professional teams routinely overvalue draft picks The myth of momentum or the “hot hand” in sports, and why so many fans, coaches, and broadcasters fervently subscribe to it Why NFL coaches rarely go for a first down on fourth-down situations–even when their reluctance to do so reduces their chances of winning. In an engaging narrative that takes us from the putting greens of Augusta to the grid iron of a small parochial high school in Arkansas, Scorecasting will forever change how you view the game, whatever your favorite sport might be.
- Blind Love by Mark O’Neal
(Underdog Publishing, 2011-06-16, Kindle Edition)
Maurice had decided to get plastered after a hard day of searching for his missing fiancee, Gabrielle. She disappeared a week before their scheduled wedding in June, and Maurice had been searching for her the entire summer to no avail. The police couldn’t find any evidence to suggest that she was murdered, so they called off their search efforts. Maurice conducted his own search efforts, and the despair of being unsuccessful had taken its toll on him.Maurice tried to get his mind off of things by focusing on his sister Erin’s and his best friend and teammate Malik’s wedding instead that was taking place on the last weekend in August. He began to put the pieces of the puzzle together once his friend Agent Stanton told him that Gabrielle was hiding out from her sociopath ex-boyfriend. He would soon discover that Gabrielle wasn’t the woman he thought she was, and their inevitable meeting would have dire consequences.
- The Defender (Kindle Single) by Jordan Conn
(The Atavist, 2011-07-06, Kindle Edition)
Manute Bol was the first African-born player in the NBA and, at seven foot seven inches, the tallest. In the 1980s and 90s he was also among the league’s most fearsome shot-blockers and its most beloved figures. Off the basketball court, however, Bol’s story was more remarkable than most fans ever knew. Activist, gambler, joker, rebel—Bol was a complex man whose fate was inextricably bound with that of the Sudan, his homeland. Writer Jordan Conn traveled to southern Sudan to explore Bol’s remarkable path from Africa to the NBA, his rise to stardom and fall into obscurity, and his final role as a renowned humanitarian and key figure in his homeland’s independence. Conn’s account, the latest Kindle Single from The Atavist, is a funny and moving portrait of a man who lived a life befitting his outsized body. Jordan Conn is a freelance journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He contributes regularly to SI.com, and his work has appeared in The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Slam, and Draft, among others.
- Jewball by Neal Pollack
(2011-10-05, Kindle Edition)
From the bestselling satirist and memoirist Neal Pollack comes a funny, gritty historical noir about a tough Jew on the brink and about a great American game coming into its own.1937. The gears of world war have begun to grind, but Inky Lautman, star point guard for the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association, America’s greatest basketball team, is dealing with his own problems. His coach has unwittingly incurred a massive gambling debt to the German-American Bund. His main basketball rival is self-righteously leading public protests against the rise of homegrown American fascism. And his girlfriend wants him to join a Jewish student organization that’s all talk and no action. It’s more than Inky can deliver. He just wants to play ball and occasionally beat people up for money. The tides of history are flowing against a guy like Inky. Can he make his free throws and still make it through the season alive? This…is Jewball.
- Joe Tait: It’s Been a Real Ball (Stories from a Hall-of-fame Sports Broadcasting Career) by Terry Pluto
(Gray & Co., Publishers, 2011-11-04, Paperback)
Legendary broadcaster Joe Tait is like an old family friend to three generations of Cleveland sports fans. This book celebrates his hall-of-fame career with stories from Joe and dozens of fans, media colleagues, and players. It’s co-written with Joe by award-winning sportswriter Terry Pluto.
What made Joe Tait so special? Fans believed him. He was “one of us.” He made the game come alive, and wasn’t afraid to speak his mind–even when it might get him in trouble with the coach or the owners. He was a throwback, a purist. Despite the bling and flash that has become so much a part of pro sports, for Joe the game always came first.
Northeast Ohioans know Tait best as the voice of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He called the radio play-by-play from the team’s first year in the NBA, 1970, until his retirement in 2011 (with the exception of two years in the early 1980s). His animated voice and no-nonsense announcing brought the excitement of the game home to listeners, from the “Miracle at Richfield” to the LeBron James years.
- Wonder Girl: The Magnificent Sporting Life of Babe Didrikson Zaharias by Don Van Natta Jr.
(Little, Brown and Company, 2011-06-02, Hardcover)
This is the extraordinary story of a nearly forgotten American superstar athlete. Texas girl Babe Didrikson never tried a sport too tough and never met a hurdle too high. Despite attempts to keep women from competing, Babe achieved All-American status in basketball and won gold medals in track and field at the 1932 Olympics.Then Babe attempted to conquer golf. One of the founders of the LPGA, Babe won more consecutive tournaments than any golfer in history. At the height of her fame, she was diagnosed with cancer. Babe would then take her most daring step of all: go public and try to win again with the hope of inspiring the world.A rollicking saga, stretching across the first half of the 20th century, WONDER GIRL is as fresh, heartfelt, and graceful as Babe herself.
- Reed All About It: Driven to be a Jayhawk by Tyrel Reed
(Ascend Books, 2011-10-01, Paperback)
Of all the wonderful players who have worn the crimson and blue for the University of Kansas basketball program through the years, only one can claim to be the “winningest” Jayhawk of all — Tyrel Reed. Reed, who concluded his playing career in March 2011, has written a new book that chronicles his time with the Jayhawks — Reed All About It: Driven to Be a Jayhawk. The book published by Ascend Books of Overland Park, Kansas, is co-written by long-time Topeka Capital Journal Sports Columnist Tully Corcoran.Reed was a champion on the court — as part of the Jayhawks’ National Championship in 2008 — and in the classroom, as a three-time Academic All-Big 12 First Team member. He was part of more wins than any other player in the storied history of the Kansas program.The son of a coach from Burlington, Kansas, Reed developed into an important leader and “glue guy” for the Jayhawks. He was an excellent outside shooter, sinking 170 three-point field goals in his career, and a clutch free throw shooter, with an .810 success rate.In his book, Reed describes what it was like to play for Coach Bill Self, how the game has changed with “one-and-done” freshmen players, and how he was able to excel academically despite the demands of basketball practice and road trips.Told with heart and good humor, Reed All About It: Driven to Be a Jayhawk, is a must-read for any fan of college basketball.
- Physical Education (Murder 101 Mystery) by Maggie Barbieri
(Minotaur Books, 2011-11-22, Hardcover)
College English professor and sometime amateur sleuth Alison Bergeron would’ve been thrilled to hear that her husband, NYPD Detective Bobby Crawford, was leaving Homicide if that were the whole story, but it turns out that Bobby’s next assignment is even worse—undercover. As if worrying about his involvement in a case he won’t talk about at all wasn’t bad enough, Alison is forced to take over the women’s basketball team at St. Thomas after the coach dies of a heart attack during a game. She may not know much about basketball, but she’s no stranger to sleuthing, and it isn’t long before she suspects that the coach’s death may be more than unexpected but premeditated as well.With Bobby deep undercover and Alison always on her way to deep trouble, it’s only a matter of time before they run smack into each other in Physical Education, the latest in Maggie Barbieri’s charming Murder 101 mystery series.