Sports books coming in 2023

Time for my favourite post of the year – the list of sports books coming next year! It’s a long list with over 200 books and no doubt plenty more 2023 releases will be announced over the coming months. Some of these will inevitably be pushed back but so far the year is looking good!

For those who don’t want to read the entire list (although I don’t understand why not!) my pick of the 10 upcoming books I’m most excited for (or have read and loved) are set out first, followed by the entire list sorted by sport.

Let me know in the comments which books you are most looking forward to. Happy Reading!

2023 Releases I’m Most Excited For:

  1. ⚽ It isn’t Sunday Anymore: In Search of Roberto Baggio by James Horncastle. I loved Baggio and really looking forward to this book on the Divine Ponytail by the excellent Italian football writer.
  2. 🏀Magic: The Life of Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson by Roland Lazenby. The great basketball biographer on the legendary Magic.
  3. 🏀LeBron by Jeff Benedict. Promises to be the definitive bio of LeBron James by the co-author of the excellent Tiger Woods.
  4. 🏌️‍♂️Feherty by John Feinstein. Promises to be the definitive biography of enigmatic golfer and commentator David Feherty.
  5. ⚾ Baseball at the Abyss: The Scandals of 1926, Babe Ruth, and the Unlikely Savior Who Rescued a Tarnished Game by Dan Taylor. A look at how baseball recovered from betting scandal that threatened its place as America’s national pastime.
  6. ⚽We Play On: Shakhtar Donetsk’s Fight for Ukraine, Football and Freedom by Andy Brassell
  7. ⚽When Calcio Ruled the World: The History of Italian Football in the Eighties and Nineties by Emanuele Giulianelli. If I was to write a book it would be on this period of Italian football so I’m very excited to read this one.
  8. 🏃💉The Longest Race: Inside the Secret World of Abuse, Doping, and Deception on Nike’s Elite Running Team by Kara Goucher with Mary Pilon
  9. 🥊Lights Out The James Toney Story by Robert Anasi. Anything published by Hamilcar is sure to be one of the highlights of the year.
  10. ⚽ Phenomenon – Biography of the Brazilian striker Ronaldo by Dan Williamson.

And now the full list sorted by sport

⚽ Soccer

  • 1992: The Birth of Modern Football by Rob Fletcher. The year the Premier League was formed.
  • Big Boots to Fill: The New Maradona, Riquelme, Messi and Beyond by David Nolan
  • When Calcio Ruled the World: The History of Italian Football in the Eighties and Nineties by Emanuele Giulianelli
  • The Match: The Story of Italy v Brazil by Piero Trellini. An in-depth look at the 1982 World Cup 2nd round match between the eventual winners and one of the greatest teams not to win the World Cup.
  • The Life of Total Football: The Origins and Development of Football’s Most Entertaining Philosophy by James Jackson
  • High Noon: The Falklands, the Hand of God and the Goal of the Century by Michael Gibbons
  • Phenomenon – Biography of the Brazilian striker Ronaldo by Dan Williamson
  • The Conquerors: How Carlo Ancelotti Made AC Milan World Champions by Dev Bajwa. I love seeing more books being written in English on 90’s and 00’s Italian football.
  • Espana 82: A Hazy Shade of Summer by Stuart Horsfield. A wider look at the tournament from the author of the excellent Brazil 1982.
  • The Dutch Masters: When Ajax’s Totaal Voetbal Conquered Europe by Gary Thacker.
  • When the Sky Was Blue: The Inside Story of Coventry City’s Premier League Years by Rich Chamberlain
  • It Isn’t Sunday Anymore: In Search of Roberto Baggio by James Horncastle
  • Mucky Boots: Triumphs, Trials and Tragedies of a Football Club Owner by Kevin McCabe
  • Revolution: The Rise and Rise of Wolverhampton Wanderers 2003 to 2023 by Paul Berry and Johnny Phillips
  • Duncan Edwards: Eternal: The family authorised autobiography of Manchester United’s lost genius by Wayne Barton. Barton has written tons of great books on United’s past and this promises to be a great read.
  • The Number Ten: More than a Number, More than a Shirt by Andy Bollen. A look at everyone’s favourite football position.
  • Soccer Grannies: The South African Women Who Inspire the World by Jean Duffy
  • Copa America: The History of the World’s Oldest Continental Football Tournament by Gideon Long
  • So Much More Than That: A British Journey of Football, Industry, War and Migration by Hannah Grainger-Clemson. A look at how ordinary people experienced life and the rise of football in the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • Thai Football Tales: A Beautiful Madness by Matt Riley
  • Erik ten Hag: The Biography by Maarten Meijer. Bio of the Man Utd manager.
  • Fortune’s Always Hiding: From Stratford to Seville by Paul Brand. A West Ham fan on the club’s recent history.
  • Scotland 42 England 1:An Englishman’s Mazy Dribble through Scottish Football by Mark Winter
  • Nowhere to Run: The trials of a non-league football club owner by Jonathan Sayer
  • El Ceramico: The Story of the Potteries Derby by Liam Bullock
  • Making Up the Numbers: 99 Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Players by Alex Cassidy
  • José Mourinho the Inter Years by Paul Rowe
  • Come and Get Me by Jim White and Kaveh Solhekol. No details yet but presume will be about transfers or transfer deadline day.
  • Mr Corinthian: Pa Jackson and the Casual Corinthians by Llew Walker
  • Echoes of an Italian Summer: Stories from Italia 90 by Paul Grech
  • Red Planet: How Manchester United Took Over the World by Luke Bainbridge. A history of the football club.
  • The King Takes Over: Liverpool and the Dalglish Years 1985-1991 by Shareef Abdallah.
  • A Tale of One City: The World’s Most Unique Single-City Derbies by Andrew Flint and Matt Gault
  • Match Fit: An Exploration of Mental Health in Football by Johnnie Lowery
  • Turncoat: How I Stopped Supporting Arsenal and Found a New Team by Matt Coughlan
  • Pretty Poly: The History of the Football Shirt by Alex Ireland
  • An Oral History of Football: From 1966 to the Modern Day by Les Scott
  • We Play On: Shakhtar Donetsk’s Fight for Ukraine, Football and Freedom by Andy Brassell
  • The A to Z of Sunday League Football: The Ultimate Guide to the Grassroots Game by Craig Hazell & Adam Parker
  • United with Dad by Simon Lloyd
  • Got That Lovin’ Feelin’: From Clark to Cooper, Nottingham Forest s Unique Story of Turmoil and Triumph by Warren Turner
  • A Nation Again: The Inside Story of Scotland’s Emergence from the International Wilderness by Andy Bargh
  • The Derby Game: A History of Local Rivalries by Ian Collis
  • Fear and Loathing at Goodison Park: Everton Under David Moyes by Louis Foster
  • Galvanised: The Footballing Tale of Brothers Chris and Tony Galvin by David Saffer
  • The Forgotten Cup: History of the Mitropa Cup, Mother of the Champions League (1927-1940) by Jo Araf
  • The System: What We Can Learn When Science and Reason Collide with Scottish Football by Graeme McDowal
  • Forgotten Football Clubs: Fifty Teams Across the World, Gone but Never Forgotten by Philip O’Rourke
  • Gary Speed: The Man Behind the Smile by Graeme Bell. A bio of the late footballer and Wales manager.
  • Field of Dreams: 100 Years of Wembley in 100 Matches by Nige Tassell
  • Inshallah United: A Story of Faith and Football by Nooruddean Choudry. A reflection of growing up a Manc and a United fan in an Islamic household.
  • The Men Who Made Manchester United: The Untold Story by Harry Robinson. A look at the men who founded Man Utd and the pre-war years before they became a global giant.
  • Crossing the Park: The Men Who Dared to Play for Both Liverpool and Everton by Peter Jones.
  • Spice Up Your Life: Liverpool, the Nineties and Roy Evans by Jonathon Aspey
  • Golden Generations: The Story of the 2006 FIFA Men s World Cup by Michael Gallwey
  • El M s Grande: The Story of River Plate, Argentina’s Biggest Club by Mark Orton
  • 81: The Inside Story of Our Iconic FA Cup Victory by Steve Perryman. Spurs player on their 1981 cup win.
  • England’s Calamity? A New Interpretation of the ‘Match of the Century’ by Chris Jones.
  • Fever Pitch: The Rise of the Premier League by Paul McCarthy
  • Where Legends Were Born: Melwood the Complete Story by Arngrimur Baldursson. A look at Liverpool’s youth academy.
  • When Dave Went Up: The Inside Story of Wimbeldon’s 1988 FA Cup Win by Gary Jordan. Jordan has written some other great books on the history of Wimbledon.
  • Unico Grande Amore: AS Roma in the 21st century by Marc Lamberts
  • Brave Enough Not to Quit by Millie Farrow with Katie Field.
  • Rovers Till I Die: The Story of Bob Crompton, Blackburn’s Most Famous Son by Harry Berry
  • Roy Massey: A Life in Football and a Coach to the Stars by Roy Massey
  • Amoruso Lets it Run: Hearts of Midlothian 1990-1998 by Scott McIntosh
  • The Great Days of Sunderland: Six League Titles and Two Fa Cups by David Potter. Hard to believe Sunderland were once good!
  • The Dundee Derby: Britain’s Closest Derby by Jeff Webb
  • Never Stop: How Ange Postecoglou Brought the Fire Back to Celtic by Hamish Carton
  • Glory, Glory, Gone: The Story of Tottenham Hotspur’s Regression, Relegation and Rebirth in the 1970s by Samuel Rooke
  • Season in Hell: British Footballers Killed in the Second World War by Nigel McCrery
  • Starting from Scratch Barry Kilby by Dave Thomas
  • NII Lamptey: The Curse of Pele by Joris Kaper. Biography of the Ghanian football wunderkid who became a cautionary tale for putting too much pressure on young players.
  • Hammer Time: Me, West Ham, and a Passion for the Shirt by Julian DicksBiography of the former West Ham player and cult legend.
  • ‘Green & Golden Boots’ by Jason Goldsmith. A look at the 12 Australians who have won Golden Boots in international leagues, covering countries such as England, Scotland, Norway, Belgium, USA, Japan, Malaysia and Iceland!
  • A book on the history of football terminology by FoFStrife
  • ‘They Played for David Pleat at Luton Town 1978-86’ by @Kitman_Phil
  • A whole bunch of books from great Australian publisher Fairplay Publishing, including:
    • When Mum & Dad See Me Kick
    • The Yawning Giant
    • Best in Australia
    • Hell for Leather
    • The First Matildas
    • Encyclopedia of Matildas World Cup Edition
    • Hear Us Roar

🏈 NFL / American Football

  • Round Zero: Inside the NFL Draft by Andy Phillips. Draft insights from the former Green Bay Packer turned sportswriter.
  • On the Clock: Kansas City Chiefs by Matt Derrick. A look at the Chiefs’ history in the NFL Draft.
  • Draft Day Confidential: A Fan’s Inside Guide to the NFL Draft by Thomas George
  • All-Pro Wisdom: The Seven Choices that Lead to Greatness by Matt Birk with Rich Chapman
  • Fifth Ward to Fourth Quarter: Football’s Impact on an NFL Player’s Body and Soul by Delvin Williams.
  • The NFL Off-Camera: An A-Z Guide to the League’s Most Memorable Players and Personalities by Bob Angelo and Ray Didinger
  • Never Ask ‘Why’: Football Players’ Fight for Freedom in the NFL by Ed Garvey
  • Don Perkins: A Champion’s Life by Richard Melzer. Biography of the former Dallas Cowboy
  • The Yards Between Us: A Memoir of Love, Life and Football by R.K. Russell
  • Four Quarters of History Ten Games That Define the Modern NFL by Sean Deveney
  • Dyed in Crimson: Football, Faith and the Remaking of Harvard’s America by Zev Eleff
  • Iron Tigers by David Neil Drews. A novel inspired by the team that conquered Dixie and launched Southern Football
  • How ‘Bout Them Dawgs: The Inside Story of Georgia Football’s 2021 National Championship Season by Kirby Smart and Loran Smith.

⚾ Baseball

  • Daybreak at Chavez Ravine: Fernandomania and the Remaking of the Los Angeles Dodgers by Erik Sherman. The story of the Mexican pitcher, Fernando Valenzuela, who became an instant icon for his performances as a Dodger.
  • Buffalo Braves: From A to Z by Budd Bailey.
  • When the Babe Went Back to Boston: Babe Ruth, Judge Fuchs and the Hapless Braves of 1935 by Bob Lemoine
  • From the Front Row: Reflections of a Major League Baseball Owner and Modern Art Dealer by Jeffrey H. Loria
  • Welcome to the Circus of Baseball : A Story of the Perfect Summer at the Perfect Ballpark at the Perfect Time by Ryan McGee. The writer looks back on his first summer post college interning for a minor league baseball team.
  • One Season in Rocket City: How the 1985 Huntsville Stars Brought Minor League Baseball Fever to Alabama by Dale Tafoya
  • The New Ballgame: The Not So-Hidden Forces That Shape Modern Baseball by Russell A. Carleton
  • Penguin Power: Dodger Blue, Hollywood Lights and a One in a Million Big League Journey by Ron Cey with Ken Gurnick
  • The 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys: The Worst Team in Pittsburgh Pirates History by John Dreker
  • Smart, Wrong, and Lucky: Scouting Baseball’s Unexpected Stars by Jonathan Mayo
  • Baseball at the Abyss: The Scandals of 1926, Babe Ruth, and the Unlikely Savior Who Rescued a Tarnished Game by Dan Taylor. A look at how baseball recovered from betting scandal that threatened its place as America’s national pastime.
  • Baseball’s Endangered Species: Inside the Craft of Scouting by Those Who Lived It by Lee Lowenfish
  • Pitching Democracy: Baseball and Politics in the Dominican Republic by April Yoder
  • Suds Series: Baseball, Beer Wars and the Summer of ‘82 by J. Daniel.
  • Gibby: Tales of a Baseball Lifer by John Gibbons.
  • Banana Ball by Jesse Cole. Book by the owner of a social media sensation sub-minor league baseball team in Georgia.
  • The 1998 Yankees by Jack Curry
  • The Tao of the Backup Catcher by Tim Brown with Erik Kratz. Chronicles the unsung journeymen of baseball.
  • Sons of Baseball: Growing Up with a Major League Dad by Mark Braff. Interviews with 18 men who grew up with father’s who played Major League Baseball.
  • Do You Believe in Magic?: Baseball and America in the Groundbreaking Year of 1966 by David Krell
  • Winning Fixes Everything : How Baseball’s Brightest Minds Created Sports’ Biggest Mess by Evan Drellich
  • Aaron Judge: The Incredible Story of New York Yankees’ Home Run Hitting Phenom by David Fischer
  • Baseball Memorable Misses: An Unabashed Look at the Game’s Craziest Zeroes by Dan Schlossberg
  • A Damn Near Perfect Game: Reclaiming America’s Pastime by Jim Kelly with Rob Bradford. The White Sox pitcher with an insiders look at Major League Baseball. Will it be the Ball Four of the modern era?
  • Mallparks: Baseball Stadiums and the Culture of Consumption by Michael T. Friedman
  • Ballists, Dead Beats, and Muffins: Inside Early Baseball in Illinois by Robert D. Sampson
  • Road to Nowhere: The Early 1990s Collapse and Rebuild of New York City Baseball by Chris Donnelly. A look at the turbulent years for the Yankees and Mets as they crashed and rebuilt in the early 90s.
  • Baseball: The Turbulent Midcentury Years by Steven P. Gietschier

🏀Basketball

  • Magic: The Life of Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson by Roland Lazenby. The great basketball biographer on the legendary Magic.
  • The Education of Kendrick Perkins: A Memoir by Kendrick Perkins with Seth Rogoff. Autobiography of the NBA player turned ESPN analyst.
  • LeBron by Jeff Benedict. Promises to be the definitive bio of LeBron James by the co-author of the excellent Tiger Woods.
  • Hoop Muses: An Insider’s Guide to Pop Culture and the Women;s Game by Kate Fagan, Seimone Augustus and Sophia Chang
  • Role of a Lifetime: Larry Farmer and the UCLA Bruins by Larry Farmer and Tracy Dodds. Farmer was a key player on the legendary UCLA basketball teams under John Wooden before becoming the first black head coach at the school at age 30.
  • Black Ball : Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Spencer Haywood, and the Generation that Saved the Soul of the NBA by Theresa Runstedtler
  • The Sense of Wonder (A novel) by Matthew Salesses. A novel based on an Asian-American NBA star which seems heavily based on Jeremey Lin’s dramatic emergence in the NBA and the ensuing ‘Linsanity’.
  • The Blue Divide: Duke, North Carolina, and the Battle on Tobacco Road by Johnny Moore and Art Chansky

🥊 Boxing

  • Lights Out The James Toney Story by Robert Anasi. Anything published by Hamilcar is sure to be one of the highlights of the year.
  • Last On His Feet: Jack Johnson and the Battle of the Century by Youssef Daoudi and Adrian Matejka. An innovate take on the famous boxer combing poetry and illustrations.
  • Fight For Your Life: The Autobiography by Amir Kahn. Autobiography of the British boxer
  • Brick City Grudge Match: Tony Zale and Rocky Graziano Battle in Newark, 1948 by Rod Honecker
  • Untitled Andre Ward Memoir. Autobiography of the 5 time world champion boxer.
  • Henry Armstrong: Boxing’s Super Champ by John Jarrett
  • Muhammad Ali: A Humanitarian Life by Margueritte Shelton
  • A Boxing Legacy: The Life and Works of Writer and Cartoonist Ted Carroll edited by Ian Phimister and David Patrick
  • Glenn Catley Autobiography by Neil Palmer

🎽 Athletics / Olympics

  • The Long Run to Glory by Stephen Lane. The story of the first women’s Olympic Marathon.
  • The Longest Race: Inside the Secret World of Abuse, Doping, and Deception on Nike’s Elite Running Team by Kara Goucher with Mary Pilon
  • Silence All the Noise by Caster Semenya. Biography of the runner who has found herself at the center of discussions on sport and gender.
  • Untitled Donovan Bailey memoir. The Canadian sprinter’s story will be published by Random House Canada this Summer.
  • Nadia Comaneci and the Secret Police: A Cold War Escape by Dr Stejarel Olaru, translated by Alistair Ian Blyth. Promises to be a fascinating account of the life of the legendary gymnast.
  • The Tigerbelles: The American Team that Changed the Face of Women’s Sports by Aime Alley Card
  • We Share the Sun: The Incredible Journey of Kenya’s Legendary Coach and the Fastest Runners on Earth by Sarah Gearhart
  • Good for a Girl: My Life Running in a Man’s World by Lauren Fleshman
  • The Race Against Time: Adventures in Late-Life Running by Richard Askwith
  • Airborne by Shaun White. Illustrated biography from the American Olympic snowboarder
  • Victory in the Pool: How a Maverick Coach Upended Society and Led a Group of Young Swimmers to Olympic Glory by Bill GeorgeStory of the swim coach who led the US to 20 Olympic medals in the 1960s and 70s.
  • The Olympics that Never Happened: Denver ’76 and the Politics of Growth by Adam BergThe story of Denver’s successful Olympic bid which was then rejected by its own citizens.
  • Black Mercuries: African American Athletes, Race, and the Modern Olympic Games by David K. Wiggins, Kevin B. Witherspoon & Mark Dyreson
  • Choosing To Run: A Memoir by Des Linden
  • In the Spell of the Barkley: The Most Gruelling Ultramarathon in the World by Michiel Panhuysen
  • The Hard Parts: A Story of Courage and Triumph by Oksana Masters

🏌️‍♂️ Golf

  • Feherty by John Feinstein. Promises to be the definitive biography of enigmatic golfer and commentator David Feherty.
  • The Ball in the Air by Michael Bamberger. A love letter to amateur golf by the celebrated golf writer
  • Little Poison: Paul Runyan, Sam Snead and a Long Shot Upset at the 1938 PGA Championship by John Dechant
  • Troublemaker: A Memoir by Lisa Cornwell with Tucker Booth. The Golf Channel analyst hits out a misogony in sports media.
  • Tiger Woods Memoir – it’s been in motion for a few years and listed as a 2023 release but without a title yet it may not come next year.

🏏Cricket

  • The Tour: The Story of the England Cricket Team Overseas 1877-2022 by Simon Wilde
  • All-India and Down-Under: Peace, Partition and the Game of Cricket by Richard Knott
  • This Too America: Philadelphia’s Era of Cricket by Tom Melville
  • Turning Over the Pebbles: A Life in Cricket and in the Mind by Mike Brearley
  • It’s Not Banter, It’s Racism: What Cricket’s Dirty Secret Reveals About Our Society by Azeem Rafiq. The Yorkshire cricketer who spoke out about racism in the game.
  • From Darkness into Light: The Australian Imperial Forces XI 1919 by John Broom and Anthony Condon

🏉Rugby

  • The Men in the Arena: England, Australia and the Battle for the Rugby World Cup by Peter Burns and Tom English. Any book by Burns and English is usually well worth reading.
  • Le Coq: A Journey to the Heart of French Rugby by Peter Bills
  • The Extra Mile by Kevin Sinfield. Autobiography of the rugby league player.
  • Hope and Glory: Rugby League in Thatcher’s Britain by Anthony Broxton
  • World in Union: The Rugby World Cup, 1987-2019 by Matthew Bazell
  • The Art of Winning: Lessons learned by one of the world’s top sportsmen by Dan Carter. Autobiography from the legendary New Zealand rugby out-half
  • Edgar Mobbs: Rugby International, Sportsman, Soldier, Legend by Jon Cooksey & Graham McKechnie. Biography of the rugby player who died during World War I.

🎱 Snooker

  • Deep Pockets: Snooker and the Meaning of Life by Brendan Cooper
  • The Natural: The Story of Patsy Houlihan, the Greatest Snooker Player You Never Saw by Luke Williams
  • Snooker’s Bad Boys: The Rebels of the Green Baize by Matt Bozeat

🚲Cycling

  • Full Gas: Inside Road Cycling by Kristof Ramon. A look behind the scenes with the teams and riders at all the major cycling tours and classics through the lens of world-class pro-cycling photographer
  • Coffee First, Then the World by Jenny Graham. The author’s attempt to beat the around-the-world cycling record.
  • The Art of Cycling: Philosophy, Meaning, and a Life on Two Wheels by James Hibbard. Already out in the UK but out in USA in May.
  • 1923: The Mystery of Lot 212 and a Tour de France Obsession by Ned Boulting. The author bought a piece of film from the 1923 Tour de France and becomes obsessed with tracing the story of that year’s race.

🎾 Tennis

  • My Dream Time: A Memoir of Tennis & Teamwork by Ash Barty
  • Althea: The Life of Tennis Champion Althea Gibson by Sally H. Jacobs
  • Queen of the Court: The Many Lives of Tennis Legend Alice Marble by Madeleine Blais

🏒Hockey

  • Freedom to Win: A Cold War Story of the Courageous Hockey Team Who Fought the Soviets for the Soul of Its People—And Olympic Gold by Ethan Scheiner. A look at the Czechoslovakia ice hockey team and their battles with the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
  • Down and Back: On Alcohol, Family and a Life in Hockey by Justin Bourne
  • The Game that Saved the NHL: The Broad Street Bullies, the Soviet Red Machine, and Super Series ’76 by Ed Gruver

Miscellaneous

  • Unfair Play: The Battle For Women’s Sport by Sharron Davies and Craig Lord. Former swimmer Davies has been outspoken on the issue of transgender participants in women’s sport.
  • An American Aristocrat: How the Sporting Obsessions of J. B. Thomas Defined the Age of Excess by Christopher Oakford and Glenye Cain
  • Game of Edges: The Analytical Revolution and the Future of Professional Sports by Bruce Schoenfeld
  • The Right Call: What Sports Teach Us About Leadership, Excellence, and Decision-Making by Sally Jenkins. A reflection on the various coaches and athletes Jenkins encountered during her career as a sportswriter.
  • Straight Shooter: A Memoir of Second Chances and First Takes by Stephen A. Smith
  • The Black Athlete Revolt: The Sport Justice Movement in the Age of #BlackLivesMatter by Shaun M. Anderson
  • No Pie, No Priest: A Journey through the Folk Sports of Britain by Harry Pearson
  • Box! Box! Box!: The Inside Track of the 2022 Formula One Season by Gary Jordan. Look at an incredible season of Formula 1 from author of excellent books on AFC Wimbledon and the 1982 World Cup.
  • Bounce Out: The Fall of the British Darts Organisation by Andy Moore
  • 24 Hours by Richard Williams. The story of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, one of the world’s most iconic motorsports events, which celebrates its centenary in 2023.
  • Power Players: Sports, Politics, and the American Presidency by Chris Cillizza. A colorful look at how modern US presidents play sport and have used sport as part of their politics.
  • Kings of the Cage: How an Unlikely Group of Mogels, Champions, & Hustlers Transformed the UFC into a $10 Billion Industry by Michael Thomsen. The origin story of the UFC.
  • Money, Power, Respect: How Women in Sports are Shaping the Future of Feminism by Macaela MacKenzie
  • Remember Their Sacrifice: Stories of Unheralded Athletes of Color by Arif Khatib and Pete Elman
  • When Women Stood: The Untold History of Females Who Changed Sports and the World by Alexandra Allred
  • Ringmaster: Vince McMahon and the Unmaking of America by Abraham Riesman
  • Strong Women: Inspirational athletes at the top of their game by Suzanne Wrack. A feminist history of sport. A look at the stories behind 50 pioneering female athletes.
  • Isaac Murphy: The Rise and Fall of a Black Jockey by Katherine C. Mooney
  • Max Verstappen: A New Era: The Ultimate Biography of the F1 Sensation by Mark Hughes
  • Fearless: Extraordinary Adventures with Courageous Women by Louise Minchin
  • Goodbye Oakland: Winning, Wanderlust, and a Sport’s Town’s Fight for Survival by Andy Dolich and Dave Newhouse
  • An Autobiography from Phil Quinlan

‘Barkley: A Biography’ by Timothy Bella (2022)

Sometimes a new sports bio comes along and you wonder how come a great bio of that athlete hasn’t appeared yet. As one of the more iconic figures in basketball both during and after his career, Charles Barkley has fascinated, entertained, annoyed and informed generations of basketball fans. While he wrote an autobiography, Barkley has admitted to never reading it and even claimed he was misquoted in his own book! This book is the biography that such an interesting figure merits.

Barkley (the book) is a conventional biography that explores its’ subject’s life in detail. The book is at its most interesting in telling Charles’ childhood and college days and the struggles he overcame to find his purpose through basketball. It presents a balanced reflection of Barkley, the good and bad and looks at his career both on and off the court. It’s packed full of interesting anecdotes and insight and delicately balances the dual aims of being short enough to remain entertaining while also being long enough to capture the fullness of Barkley’s life.

Bella, a deputy editor at the Washington Post, was also the lead researcher for hugely successful biographies from from Armen Keteyian and Jeff Benedict – the excellent “Tiger” and “The System. Those books both stood out through the meticulous amount of research that went into them. Bella has clearly adopted a similar approach and I can’t think of better praise than saying the book ranks alongside those other two as a really enjoyable sports book.

Sports books coming later in 2022

It’s time for the updated list of sports coming out in the rest of 2022. Almost 150 titles below, sorted by expected publication date (based on my rudimentary research)!. Comment to let me know what book your most looking forward to:

From Kids to Champions by Jonny Brick @jonnybrick. Host of the Football Library radio show writes about the FA Youth Cup. (16 May)

In the Shadow of Benbulben: Dixie Dean at Sligo Rovers by Paul Little. The unlikely story of how one of football’s greatest players ended up playing for 4 months in the west of Ireland. A rare book covering Irish domestic football! (16 May)

Everyone Round My House For a Parmo! Middlesbrough’s Journey from Cardiff to Eindhoven by Phil Spencer. Boro’s remarkable run in Europe from 2003 to 2006. (16 May)

⚽ On the Border: The Rise and Decline of the Most Political Club in the World by Shaul Adar. A look at the history of Beitar Jerusalem (16 May).

⚽ Qarabag: The Team Without a City and their Quest to Conquer Europe by Emanuele Giulanelli @EmaGiulianelli. The story of the football team from Agdam that survived even after the city was destroyed in 1993 (16 May).

⚽ Brawls, bribes and broken dreams: How Dundee Almost Won the European Cup by Graeme Strachan (16 May)

⚽ Philosophy and Football: The PFFC Story by Geoff Andrew and Filippo Ricci

Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorised) Biography of Golf’s Most Colorful Superstar by Alan Shipnuck @AlanShipnuck. A biography of golfer Phil Mickelson by long time golf writer Shipnuck which is being described as ‘juicy and freewheeling’ (17 May)

🤼‍♂️ American Hiro: The Adventures of Benihana’s Rocky Aoki and How He Built a Legacy by Jack McCallum. Potentially more a business book than a sports one, but Aoki was a world class wrestler before he became a businessman. And any book by author of the excellent Dream Team makes my list! (17 May)

On Account of Darkness: Shining Light on Race and Sport by Ian Kennedy. An examination of systemic racism in sport. (17 May)

⚽ Golden: Why Belgian Football is More Than One Generation by James Kelly. A look at the recent history of Belgian football. (23 May)

🏀 The Black Fives: The Epic Story of Basketball’s Forgotten Era by Claude Johnson @ClaudeJohnson. A history of the early days of Black basketball including the introduction of the game to Black communities and the racial integration of the NBA in 1950. @BlackFives (24 May)

Swing and a Hit: Nine Innings of What Baseball Taught Me by Paul O’Neill and Jack Curry. Memoir of All Star Yankee and five-time World Champion, Paul O’Neill (24 May).

🏏 Crickonomics: The Anatomy of Modern Cricket by Tim Wigmore and Stefan Szymanski. Really enjoyable look at cricket through a data powered lens. Lots of interesting insight on the sports past, present and future. (26 May).

Scotland’s Swedish Adventure: The Story of Scotland’s European Championship Debut by John Bleasdale. (30 May)

🎾 Dear John: The John Lloyd Autobiography by John Lloyd with Phil Jones. Autobiography of the former British tennis player (30 May)

💉Playing Through the Pain: Ken Caminiti and the Steroids Confession That Changed Baseball Forever by Dan Good @Dgood73. The story of the first MLB player, a respected MVP, to admit to taking performance enhancing steroids and the impact that confession had on baseball. @AbramsPress (31 May)

The Game: A Journey Into the Heart of Sport by Tadhg Coakley. A reflection on the importance of sport and its’ pervasive influence, good and bad, on humanity. (June)

⚾Charlie Murphy: The Iconoclastic Showman Behind the Chicago Cubs by Jason Cannon. Story of the the ebullient and mercurial owner of this historic franchise from 1905 through 1914 during which the Cubs won two World Series (1 June).

⚾Lefty and Tim: How Steve Carlton and Tim McCarver Became Baseball’s Best Battery by William C. Kashatus. Dual biography of the Hall of Fame pitcher and catcher. (1 June)

Unsuitable for Females: The Rise of the Lionesses and Women’s Football in England by Carrie Dunn (2 June)

Year of the Robin: Watching It All Go Wrong for Charlton Athletic and the World by Jen Offord. Covid and relegation should make an entertaining mix! (2 June)

Scoring Goals in the Dark by Clare Shine with Gareth Maher. The former Irish soccer international tells her story of addiction and recovery. (6 June)

The Franchise: New York Yankees: A Curated History of the Bronx Bombers by Mark Feinsand (7 June)

Rickey: The Life and Legend of an American Original by Howard Bryant @hbryant42. Definitive biography of Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson, baseball’s epic leadoff hitter and base-stealer. When a great writer writes about a great player a great book should be expected! (7 June)

🏀 Game: An Autobiography by Grant Hill. Promises to be an interesting read from the Hall of Fame basketballer who has also been successful off the court. (7 June)

Willie Horton: 23: Detroit’s Own Willie the Wonder, the Tigers’ First Black Great by Willie Horton with Kevin Allen. Autobiography of the World Series winning Detroit Tiger. (7 June)

🏊‍♂️🏅 The Watermen: The Birth of American Swimming and One Young Man’s Fight to Capture Olympic Gold by Michael Loynd. Story of the first American to win swimming gold at the Olympics in 1908 (7 June).

🥊 The Last Dance: Tyson, Lewis, Holyfield, Bowe & Heavyweight Boxing’s Last Great Era by Brian Doogan @doogan_brian and Ron Borges @RonBorges. Each of these 4 heavyweights was a fascinating character and their fights between them were global events (8 June).

⚽ Johan Cruyff: Always on the Attack by Auke Kok @AukeKok. A comprehensive biography of the legendary Dutchman. Different aspects of Cruyff’s life have been extensively written about. This promises to be the first comprehensive English language bio since his death to try and capture his immense impact on the global game. (9 June)

🚴 Jan Ullrich: The Best There Never Was by Daniel Friebe @friebos. Biography of the always interesting 1997 Tour de France winner looking at his rise and his remarkable career that, despite his success, somehow never quite hit the heights that seemed possible. (9 June)

🚴🇫🇷 Le Fric: Family, Power and Money: The Business of the Tour de France by Alex Duff. Really looking forward to history of the behind the scenes organisation of cycling’s most famous race. (9 June)

With Flag on Their Chest: The Story of Norway’s Golden Generation by Ben Wells. A look at the emerging Norwegian footballers promising a bright future on the international stage. (15 June)

The Long Golden Afternoon: Golf’s Age of Glory, 1864 – 1914 by Stephen Proctor (16 June)

⚽ The Cornerstone Collection: Sculpting The Premier League’s Past, Present and Future by Stuart Quigley. A history of the Premier League in 45 players. (20 June)

🥊 Muhammad Ali: Fifteen Rounds in the Wilderness by Dave Hannigan. A third book on Ali by Hannigan (the other two are excellent) looks at the years between his last fight and the moment at Atlanata Olympics when he remerged as a global figure. (20 June)

🎾 Rafa Nadal: The King of the Court by Dominic Bliss. Comprehensive bio of the tennis player. (21 June)

⚽ My Greatest Save: The Brave, Barrier-Breaking Journey of a Hall-of-Fame Goalkeeper by Briana Scurry. Autobiography from the goalie on the first great US women’s soccer team. (21 June)

🚴 Climbers: How the Kings of the Mountains Conquered Cycling by Peter Cossins. (23 June)

⚽ When Asia Welcomed the World: The 2002 World Cup Revisited by Danny Lewis. A look back at the World Cup in Japan and South Korea (I’ll always maintain Ireland could have won it!). (27 June)

⚽ The Beautiful Game and the Ugly Truth: Football’s Tragic Link with Dementia by Kieran Gill. Gill has written extensively on this topic in his journalistic career. (27 June)

🏀 The NBA in Black and White: The Memoir of a Trailblazing NBA Player and Coach by Ray Scott with Charley Rosen. Memoir of Ray Scott, Piston’s legend who went #4 pick of the 1961 NBA draft, and became the first ever black man to win Coach of the Year as the Piston’s Coach in 1974. (28 June)

💉 Doping: A Sporting History by April Henning & Paul Dimeo (28 June)

🏀 Basketball 2.0: 3x3s Rise from the Streets to the Olympics by Tristan Lavalette. A look at the emergence of 3 x 3 basketball as an Olympic sport. (4 July)

Unico Grande Ameore: AS Roma in the 21st Century by Marc Lamberts. A look at the Roman football team. Looking forward to this after reading Totti’s excellent autobiography. (4 July)

💉 Synthetic Medals: East German Athlete’s Journey to Hell by Joseph Tudor. The notorious Government run doping of East German athletes should make a fascinating book (4 July).

🏏 The Nine Waves: The Extraordinary Story of How India Took Over the Cricket World by Mihir Bose (4 July).

🏒 When the NHL Invaded Japan: The Washington Capitals, the Kansas City Scouts and the Coca-Cola Bottlers’ Cup, 1975-1976 by Steve Currier (6 July)

🚴 Beryl: In Search of Britain’s Greatest Athlete by Jeremy Wilson @JWTelegraph. A biography of legendary British female cyclist Beryl Burton. There was a previous bio of Beryl last year by William Fotheringham highlighting how this legendary figure is beginning to receive long overdue credit. (7 July)

🏏 An Island’s Eleven: The Story of Sri Lankan Cricket by Nicholas Brookes. Any cricket fan will be interested in this deep dive into one of the more interesting cricket cultures. (7 July)

It Was Always a Choice: Picking up the Baton of Athlete Activism by David Steele @David_C_Steele. A look at athlete activism for social causes in the post-Kaepernick era. (8 July)

Unsung: Not All Heroes Wear Kits (Behind the Scenes With Sport’s Hidden Stars) by Alexis James. Shines a light on the lesser talked about personnel professional sports. (11 July).

🏈 Figure It Out: My Thirty-Two-Year Journey While Revolutionizing Pro Football’s Special Teams by Mike Westhoff (12 July). Autobiography of former Jets and Dolphins coach who was regarded as a Special Teams genius.

🥊 Blood, Brawn and Broken Noses: Puglism, a Very British Art by Chris Sykes. A broad exploration of boxing’s past and present. (12 July)

Sho-time: The Inside Story of Shohei Ohtani and the Greatest Baseball Season Ever Played by Jeff Fletcher. A bio of baseball’s new superstar and a broader look at the links between US and Japanese baseball. I’ve read this and really enjoyed it. (12 July)

🏈 Seventeen and Oh: Miami, 1972 and the NFL’s Only Perfect Season by Marshall Jon Fisher @MarshallJFisher. A look back after 50 years at the legendary Dolphin’s team by the author of the excellent A Terrible Splendor. A great book that I reviewed in the newsletter previously. (12 July)

⚽ An Economist Goes to the Game: How to Throw Away $580 million and Other Surprising Insights from the Economics of Sport by Paul Oyer @pauloyer. An economist’s take on sports phenomena such as corruption, ticket scalping, child prodigies, the Olympics, and many others. (12 July)

Roll Red Roll: Rape, Power, and Football in the American Heartland by Nancy Schwartzman @fancynancynyc. A difficult but important subject, the book will look at an incident where a sixteen year-old girl incapacitated by alcohol was repeatedly assaulted by Steubenville, Ohio high school football stars. Sounds similar to Jon Krakauer’s powerful Missoula. (12 July)

🏐🏅 If Gold is Our Destiny: How a Team of Mavericks Came Together for Olympic Glory by Sean P. Murray. The story of the 1984 Men’s US Olympic Volleyball team and their quest for gold at the LA Olympics. (13 July)

🏈 Walking Alone: The United Journey of Football Pioneer Kenny Washington by Dan Taylor. The story of African American trailblazer Kenny Washington, the first black player in the NFL. Taylor examines the legendary player who at the time was considered one of the greatest and popular to ever play the game. (13 July)

🏈 Spies on the Sidelines: The High-Stakes World of NFL Espionage by Kevin Bryant @kevbryantauthor. Shines a shines a light on the shadowy world of NFL espionage and exposes the full range of collection techniques teams use to spy on their opponents, as well as the defensive countermeasures that are used to defend against them (13 July)

🥊 Joe Louis vs Billy Conn: Boxing’s Unforgettable Summer of 1941 by Ed Gruver @EdGruver. One of the most anticipated fights in history that more than lived up the hype and the fascinating men who squared off (15 July). I’ve read this and it’s very good.

⚽ When Two Worlds Collide: The Intercontinental Cup Years by Dan Williamson @winkveron @intlcupyears. Book on the annual match between Europe and South America’s champion football teams by the author of the excellent Blue and Gold Passion. Williamson is also writing a bio of Ronaldo (the real one) which is top of my 2023 list!

Get Up, Baby!: My Seven Decades with the St. Louis Cardinals by Mike Shannon with Rick Hummel (19 July)

⚽ The Working Hands of a Goddess: The tactics, community and culture behind Gasperini’s Atalanta B.C by Tom Underhill @tomd_underhill. Looking at the creation of one of Europe’s most exciting sides, where they and their coach have come from, and where they sit within a city’s identity. (22 July)

🥊 Warrior: A Champion’s Incredible Search for His Identity by Tris Dixon. A biography of boxer Matthew Saad Muhammad by the author of the excellent Damages. Can’t wait for this one. (25 July)

🏉 Scrum Queen’s: The Story of Women’s Rugby by Ali Donnelly (25 July)

🏃‍♂️🏅 Catch Me if You Can: Revolutionizing My Sport, Breaking World Records and Creating a Legacy for Tanzania by Filbert Bayi and Myles Schrag. Autobiogrpahy of the middle distance Olympic medalist who was famous for his assertive style in the days before pacemakers. (25 July)

🚣‍♀️🎿🏅 The Hard Parts: From Chernobyl to Paralympic Champion – My Story of Achieving the Extraordinary by Oksana Masters @OksanaMasters. Autobiography of a 10 time Paralympic medalist. (26 July)

⚽ A Woman’s Game : The Rise, Fall and Rise Again of Women’s Soccer by Suzanne Wrack (26 July)

⚽ The World’s First Football Superstar: The life of Steve Smith by Owen Arthur (30 July)

⚽ How Money Changed Football: From the Premier League to Non-League by Philip Woods (31 July)

⚽ Kit and Caboodle: Football’s Shirt Stories by Matt Riley @TalesThai (1 August)

⚽ Buzzing: The Story of Brentford’s First Premier League Season by Nick Brown (1 August)

⚽ From Beauty to Duty: A Footballing History of Uruguay, 1878-1918 by Martin da Cruz. First English language history of football in the smallest country to win the World Cup. (1 August)

🏈 The Rise of the Black Quarterback: What it Means for America by Jason Reid @JReidESPN. Building on a series by ESPN’s The Undefeated, Reid will delve into the history of black quarterbacks in the NFL. (2 August)

🏎️💉 Survival of the Fastest: Weed, Speed, and the 1980s Drug Scandal that Shocked the Sports World by Randy Lanier with A.J. Baime (2 August)

⚽ Futsal : The Indoor Game That Is Revolutionizing World Soccer by Jamie Fahey. The story of the story of futsal’s politics, tactics and personalities. (2 August)

Coming Home: My Amazin’ Life with the New York Mets by Cleon Jones. Autobiography from the player who caught the final out of the Miracle Mets’ World Series victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

⚽ Red on Red: Liverpool, United and the Fiercest Rivalry in World Football by Phil McNulty and Jim White (4 August)

🥊 Fighting for Survival: My Journey through Boxing Fame, Abuse, Murder, and Resurrection by Chrissy Martin with Ron Borges. (8 August)

⚽ City of Stars: The Controversial Story of Paris Saint-Germain by Tom Scholes. A history of French club PSG and its rise to the (almost) top of the European game. (8 August)

🏈⚾🥇 Path Lit by Lightning: The Life of Jim Thorpe by David Maraniss. A biography of the legendary Thorpe by the writer of the impossibly good When Pride Still Mattered. I’ve read this and it’s as sensationally detailed and fascinating as you would expect. A big, brilliant book. (9 August)

🏈 Freezing Cold Takes: NFL: Football Media’s Most Inaccurate Predictions—and the Fascinating Stories Behind Them by Fred Segal @Frizz527. A look back at 20 spectacularly bad predictions by the creator of the popular @OldTakesExposed (9 August)

🏈 Bronko:  The Legendary Story of the NFL’s Greatest Two Way Fullback by Chris Willis (10 August)

⚽ Carmen Pomies: Football Legend and Heroine of the French Resistance by Chris Rowe (14 August)

⚽ An Ode to The Chosen Few: Football’s Piano Players by John McNicoll. A look at football’s most gifted players from author of An Ode to Four Four Two. (15 August)

The Longest Winter: A Season with England’s Worst Ever Football Team by Mark Hodkinson. A social history of the turbulent early 70s through the lens of a Rochadale team regarded as the worst in British football league history. (15 August).

🏈 Surviving Washington by Robert Griffin III. RG3 gives his take on his all too brief NFL QB career after a spectacular college football career. (16 August)

⚽ 1999: The Treble and All That by Matt Dickenson @DickensonTimes. The Chief Sports Writer for the Times recalls Manchester United’s historic Treble campaign in 99. Hard to believe that was more than 20 years ago! (18 August)

⚽ Scheisse! We’re Going Up: The Unexpected Rise of Berlin’s Rebel Football Club by Kit Holden. A history of Union Berlin. (18 August) Have read this and it is absolutely brilliant. A history of the team through told through its’ relationships with its fans. A reflection on the power of narratives, community, and the dangers of success.

🏒 The Series: What I Remember, What it Felt Like, What it Feels Like Now by Ken Dryden. Former Hockey goalie and author of the classic The Game writes about his memories of the famous 1972 Summit Series (quite a few books on this topic this year but this one is by a participant and great writer! (23 August)

🏈 Fear No Man: Don James, the 91′ Huskies and the Seven Year Quest for a National Football Championship by Mike Gastineau (23 August)

⚽ Made in Argentina, Mastered in Madrid: How Diego Simeone Awakened a Sleeping Giant by Ashwin Reuben Ballal (29 August). A look at the tactical approach used by Athletico Madrid under their Argentinian manager.

⚽ Something in the Water: The Story of England’s Football Talent Hotbeds by Callum Murray (29 August)

🏈 The Hot Seat: A Year of Outrage, Pride, Occasional Games of College Football by Ben Mathis-Lilley @BenMathisLilley. The Slate writer taking a look at college football coaches – the book is ‘about why college football makes people so crazy—and, in a longer nutshell, hypothesizes that it does so because its programs and, especially, their coaches, are representatives of personal and cultural identity and status to a degree that is unlike any other sport in USA”. (30 August)

⚽ The Beautiful Poetry of Football Commentary by Charlie Eccleshare (1 September)

Branch Rickey and the Gospel of Baseball: Righting the Story of America’s Pastime by James E Dillard. Bio of the Hall of Fame baseball exec who opened opportunities for black and Hispanic players. (5 September)

⚽ The Making of the FIFA World Cup: 75 of the Most Memorable, Celebrated, and Shocking Moments in the History of Football’s Greatest Tournament by Jack Davies (5 September)

⚽ An Armchair Fans Guide to the Qatar World Cup: The Story of How Football Came to the Desert by Jon Berry (5 September)

🏈 The Special Relationship: The History of American Football in the United Kingdom by Andrew Gamble (5 September)

Flares up: A Story Bigger than the Atlantic by Niamh McAnally. Story of a grueling 70 day crossing of the Atlantic ocean.

🏀 Sixty-One: Life Lessons from Papa, On and Off the Court by Chris Paul with Michael Wilbon. The NBA star on his life, the game and mentorship. (6 September)

🎾 Queen of the Court: The Extraordinary Life of Tennis Legend Alice Marble by Madeline Blais (8 September)

Over the Line: A History of the England v Germany Football Rivalry by Dr Alexander Gross (12 September)

🏒 Ice War Diplomat: Hockey Meets Cold War Politics at the 1972 Summit Series by Gary J. Smith (12 September)

⚽ USA 94 – The World Cup That Changed The Game by Matt Evans @the_mevs @USA94Book. Very much looking forward to this book. For an Irish kid born in 1984, nothing will ever compete with USA 94 for my affection! (12 September)

⚽ Espana 82: A Hazy Shade of Summer by Stuart Horsfield (12 September)

Inaugural Ballers: The True Story of the First US Women’s Olympic Basketball Team by Andrew Maraniss

⚽ Calling the Shots: How to Win in Football and Life by David Dein. The former Arsenal executive who worked so well with Arsene Wenger finally writes a book. I just hope its better than Wenger’s awful cash-grab book! (15 September)

🏄‍♂️☘️ Cold-Water Eden by Richie Fitzgerald. Memoir by Ireland’s first professional surfer. (15 September)

🏉 A Very Tall Story by Martin Bayfield. The former British and Irish Lion recounts rugby’s roller-coaster ride in the 90s as the game turned professional (15 September).

⚽ Alchemy: Brian Clough & Peter Taylor at Hartlepools United by Christopher Hull (15 September)

🏈 The Mosquito Bowl: A Game of Life and Death in World War II by Buzz Bissinger. The tale of an American Football game between college football stars who served in the Pacific during WW2. Any book from the author of Friday Night Lights is likely to be a classic. (20 September)

⚽ How to Win the World Cup: Secrets and Insights from International Football’s Top Managers by Chris Evans (20 September)

🏈 My Football Life and The Rebirth of Chiefs Kingdom by Tim Grunhard with Carl Peterson. Autobiography from the former Kansas City Chiefs center. (20 September)

⚽ The Roaring Red Front: The World’s Top Left-Wing Football Clubs by Stewart McGill and Vince Raison ( 26 September)

🏒 Ed Sneider: The Last Sports Mogul by Alan Bass. Bio of the founder of the Philadelphia Flyers and legendary businessman. (27 September)

🏈 The Idealist: Jack Trice and the Fight for a Forgotten College Football Legacy by Jonathan Gelber (27 September)

Her Game Too: A Manifesto for Change by Matt Riley (1 October)

🏈⚾ The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson by Jeff Pearlman. Bio of the two-sport star who was gifted beyond comprehension but whose career was cut short due to injury. I cannot wait for this one. (4 October)

🥊 Kellie Harrington – an Autobiography written with Roddy Doyle. Legendary Dublin writer helps legendary Dublin Olympian tell her story. How can it not be great? (6 October)

⚽ Bring Me the Sports Jacket of Arthur Montford: Adventures Through Scottish Football by Aidan Smith (6 October)

⚽ Men in Blazers Present Gods of Soccer : The Pantheon of the 100 Greatest Soccer Players (According to Us) by Men In Blazers (11 October)

⚽ Football Murals: A Celebration of Soccer’s Greatest Street Art by Andy Brassell (13 October)

⚽ How to be an Ex Footballer by Peter Crouch. A 3rd book from @petercrouch, the former footballer whose first two books were very entertaining. (13 October)

⚽ From the Ground Up: Thirty Years of Irish Influence in the Premier League by Gareth Maher (14 October). Not certain if this is confirmed as can only find one reference to it online!

⚽ Football with Wings: The Tactical Concepts Behind the Red Bull Game Model by Lee Scott @FMAnalysis. Another book on tactics by Scott who makes difficult tactical concepts understandable. (17 October)

🏀 In the Blink of an Eye by Abdul-Rauf Mahmoud. Autobiography of the former NBA player who may be best remembered for refusing to stand for the US national anthem for social justice reasons back in the 1990s. (18 October)

⚽ Diego Maradona: The Last Interview and Other Conversation pub. Melville House. A series of interviews with the late, great Argentinian (18 October)

⚽ Football in the Land of the Soviets by Carles Viñas. A look at the history of football in Russia from a champion of the sports radical history.

🏉 Full Time by Nigel Owens @nigelrefowens. The story of the second half of Nigel’s career as one of the most famous referees in World Rugby (27 October)

⚽ The Rodfather by Roddy Collins with Paul Howard. After playing for 16 clubs and managing 12, Collins autobiography with the help of the excellent Howard promises to be interesting! (27 October)

⚽ Kicking Back by Nedum Onuoha. Autobiography of the former Man City player (27 October).

🏒 A Miracle of Their Own: A Team, A Stunning Gold Medal and Newfound Dreams for American Girls by Keith Gave and Tim Rappleye. Story of Team USA’s 1998 Olympic upset victory in women’s hockey.

⚽ England Football – The Biography: The Story of the Three Lions 1872-2022 by Paul Hayward @_PaulHayward. Veteran sportswriter Hayward telling the history of the English national soccer team. (27 October)

⚽ The Game by Micah Richards. Autobiography from the Man City footballer turned football pundit. (27 October)

⚽ How to be a Football Manager by Ian Holloway. The former football manager tries to mimic the style of Peter Crouch’s books focusing on management rather than playing.

⚽ New Kids in the World Cup: The Totally Late ‘80s and Early 90s Tale of the the Team that changed American Soccer Forever by Adam Elder (1 November)

⚽ The Voyageurs: The Canadian Men’s Soccer Team’s Quest to Reach the World Cup by Joshua Kloke (1 November)

🏀 Spaced Out: The Tactical Evolution of the Modern NBA by Mike Prada. A look at how the 3 point revolution has changed basketball. (1 November)

🏈 Five Laterals and a Trombone: Cal, Stanford and the Wildest Ending in College Football History by Tyler Bridges. (1 November) 

🏀 Barkley: A Biography by Timothy Bella. Bella worked as lead researcher with Armen Keteyian and Jeff Benedict on their excellent books so this promises to a comprehensive bio of Charles Barkley. (1 November)

⚽ Messi vs. Ronaldo: One Rivalry, Two GOATS, and the Era That Remade the World’s Game by Jonathan Clegg and Joshua Robinson. From the authors of the excellent The Club. (1 November)

🎾 Ash Barty – an untitled memoir from the tennis world number 1 who shocked the sport by retiring this year at just 26. (1 November)

⚽ Nil Lamptey: The Curse of Pele by Joris Kaper @CaposdeCapos. Biography of the former Ghanaian footballer, best known in England for his spells at  Aston Villa and Coventry City. Explores the challenges of living up to unrealistic expectations and hype surrounding young talented footballers. (7 November)

⚽ Two Brothers by Jonathan Wilson @jonawils. A dual-biography of Jack and Bobby Charlton, World Cup winning brothers in the 1966 England team. As an Irish football fan, Jack will always have a special place in my memory and this promises to be a fascinating book from the always excellent author of Inverting the Pyramid and The Barcelona Legacy (10 November).

🥊 Gloves Off: The Autobiography by Tyson Fury. The boxer is back with a second autobiography less than two years after he published his first one! Hard not to be a but cynical! (November)

🏈 Swagger: Super Bowls, Brass Balls and Footballs – A Memoir by Jimmy Johnson with Dave Hyde. Memoir from the Hall of Fame football coach. (20 November)

🏈 This is Our City: Four Teams, Twelve Championships, and how Boston became the Most Dominant Sports City in the World by Tony Massarotti (24 November)

🏈 Moving the Chains: The Civil Rights Protest that Saved the Saints and Transformed New Orleans by Erin Grayson Sapp. The untold story of the backroom deal that gave rise to the New Orleans Saints. (30 November)

Emancipation for Goalposts: Football’s Role In The Fall Of Yugoslavia by Chris Etchingham.

Running and Jumping by Steven Kedie @stevenkedie. A fictional story about an Olympic rivalry set between Beijing 2008 and Rio 2016.

Yet to be titled book on Cleveland Sports History by Budd Bailey @WDX2BB (a brilliant reviewer of sports books btw) and Larry Pantages

Soccer and Society in Dublin: A History of Association Football in Ireland’s Capital by Conor Curran

Slab Life 3. The third in a series of books following the fortunes of Aldershot Town FC by Nick Cansfield @life_slab

🏏 Talented, Tormented, and Tragic: The Life of Ronald Frank Vibert, a Cornish Cricketer by John G Butler

Martin McHugh – Born To Save by Jason Byrne. Bio of former Longford GAA goalkeeper

The 20 BEST Sports Books of the 21st Century so far

1. In Sunshine or in Shadow: How Boxing Brought Hope in the Troubles by Donald McRae @donaldgmcrae – a wonderful look at boxing in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

2. Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s by Jeff Pearlman @jeffpearlman. The best account of any great sports team’s rise and reign that you’ll read.

3. The Miracle of St. Anthony: A Season with Coach Bob Hurley and Basketball’s Most Improbable Dynasty by @wojespn. Before he was a famous NBA insider , Woj wrote one of the all-time great sports books about a legendary high school basketball coach.

4. The Perfect Mile by @nealbascomb. The story of the battle to break the 4 minute mile – narrative sports history at it’s absolute finest.

5. Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football by @dwinnera. A masterpiece of sports writing that made me think about football, it’s evolution and it’s relationship to society in a whole new light.

6. The Education of a Coach by David Halberstam. The late great Halberstam might be the best writer to every write about sport. A masterful look at Bill Belichick’s evolution as a coach and the men who influenced him.

7. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis. The most influential sports book ever written helped to popularise the use of data analytics. Like all Lewis’ books its also a fantastic read.

8. A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke by Ronald Reng. Compassionate, thoughtful and emotional bio of the late German goalkeeper and his mental health struggles. Captures a side of sporting life all too often left in the shadows.

9. Open: An Autobiography by @AndreAgassi. Simply the best sporting autobiography ever written. Devastatingly honest.

10. Bundini: Don’t Believe the Hype by @Todd_Snyder22. The story of Ali’s famous hype man and a perfect combination of writer and subject.

11. Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports by @markfwespn and @LanceWCIR. One of the most significant sports books in exposing drug cheats. A great book.

12. The Great Nowitzki: Basketball and the Meaning of Life by Thomas Pletzinger @tpletzinger . A brilliant biography of the German basketball legend. Captured the intensity of what it takes and what it means to both become, and stay, great.

13. Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics by Jonathan Wilson @jonawils. The first great popular book on tactical evolution of the modern game.

14. The Perfect Pass: American Genius and the Reinvention of Football by S. C. Gwynne. The origin and evolution of passing in American Football – a fascinating, brilliant book.

15. The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance by @DavidEpstein. A brilliant, immensely readable, exploration of athletic success and the question of nature vs nurture.

16. Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand. No book better places its subject in its time and place. A pleasure to read.

17. Across the River: Life, Death, and Football in an American City by @kentbabb. A remarkable book about a remarkable coach.

18. Full Time: The Secret Life Of Tony Cascarino by Paul Kimmage @PaulKimmage. No book has ever been better on the insecurity and mental toil of life in professional sports (apart from maybe Rough Ride!)

19. Garrincha: The Triumph and Tragedy of Brazil’s Forgotten Footballing Hero by Ruy Castro (tr. @adowniebrazil). A wonderful biography of the legendary Brazilian winger.

20. Four Kings: Leonard, Hagler, Hearns, Duran and the Last Great Era of Boxing by George Kimball. The late great Kimball was one of the finest boxing writers of all time.

A lot of close calls made and at least 20 other books got serious consideration. Also 1999 was a hilariously good year with Playing for Keeps, the Miracle of Castel di Sangro, Addicted and Hand of God all likely to make the list had they been published a year later.

🏀 The autobiographies of Scottie Pippen, Charles Oakley and Muggsy Bogues.

The Last Dance documentary series on the Jordan era Chicago Bulls was the undoubted sports hit of Covid Lockdown 1.0. I think every sports fan I know watched and loved it. The fact that it doubled up as a PR exercise Jordan might have diminished its objectivity but had little impact on how entertaining it was (and it holds up well for a repeat viewing).

The series helped lead to a revival of interest in the NBA’s arguable Golden Era, as Jordan helped the league transform the rising tide of the Magic/Bird era into a level of global attention more akin to today’s English Premier League than the current NBA. A (probable) knock-on effect has been the publication of a number of autobiographies from other players of that era. Three recent or upcoming of these books are The Last Enforcer by Charles Oakley, Unguarded by Scottie Pippen and Muggsy by Muggsy Bogues. Three very different books from three very different players and personalities.

Pippen is likely the best known of the three from his co-starring role in 6 NBA title wins alongside Jordan for the Chicago Bulls. Unguarded (written with Michael Arkush) is a direct consequence of the popularity of The Last Dance as Pippen uses the book to tell ‘his side’ of events in the documentary that painted him in a negative light. The overwhelming takeaway of the book is Pippen’s residual negative feelings towards.. well, plenty of people (none more so than the late Bulls GM Jerry Krause). The book could easily have been titled “I Still Hold A Grudge”. Pippen does praise plenty of people too, but the criticism is inherently more interesting. The retelling of his own career is interesting if not particularly revealing.

Primarily, Pippen is trying to set the record straight and puncture the narrative that Jordan won titles single-handedly. He seeks to define himself as Jordan’s opposite in so many ways – a better teammate and an underappreciated contributor. Overall, a reader is left with the sense of a man less satisfied than he should with a remarkable career due to lingering feelings of never being valued enough given just how remarkable he preformed.

The Last Enforcer by Charles Oakley (written with Frank Isola) gives the perspective of someone with a very different relationship with Jordan. Oakley played with the Bulls just before (and again after) they won 6 Championships and formed a life long bond with Jordan. He then spent 10 years as a New York Knick during the period wonderfully told in Chris Herring’s book Blood in the Garden.

Like Pippen, Oakley sets out to air his many grievances with players, coaches and many other people from his life and career. Unlike Pippen, Oakley never comes across as bitter (except when taking about Knick’s owner James Dolan) but more mildly irritated and dismissive of those he dislikes or simply just holds in lower esteem than you might suspect (Charles Barkley he dislikes, Patrick Ewing he is pretty dismissive of).

Oakley is also very fulsome in his praise of those he likes and, more importantly, respects. The acknowledgements section of the book is remarkable for how many people Oakley thanks and how genuine his thanks appears to be. For all his dismissive comments about others in the book, Oakley seems much more at peace with himself, his legacy and his place in world than Pippen.

For many readers, his relationship with Jordan will be of most interest. The friendship comes across as genuine and Oakley isn’t afraid to highlight that some of Jordan’s legacy is the result of his own mythmaking.

Overall, Oakley’s book is entertaining even if it struggles to fully live up to the subtitle promising ‘Outrageous Stories’. Any 90s NBA fan will enjoy the trip down memory lane.

Of the three books, Muggsy by Muggsy Bogues (written with Jacob Utitti) is a much more positive and joyful retelling of a career in the NBA. Bogues, famously the smallest player to ever play in the league, forgoes score-settling and instead celebrates his remarkable achievement of making to the league and sticking around for more than 10 years.

Bogues recounts his childhood in Baltimore in detail (which included getting shot!) but he refuses to dwell on the negatives or challenges he had to overcome. He gives more time to his remarkable high school basketball career at Dunbar which has separately been told in the book Dunbar Boys and a 30 for 30 documentary.

In discussing his life, Bogues focusses heavily on the endless skepticism about his ability from his own coaches, his opponents and their fans, some of whom would laugh when he ran onto the court. The retelling of his career is enjoyable, especially as it focusses on teams whose seasons may be less memorable than those of the Bulls or Knicks.

Interestingly, Bogues had previously published an autobiography in 1994 which I read many many years ago. Post career second autobiographies usually focus on spilling the dirt but Bogues focuses instead on more positive and interesting ancedotes. You don’t feel like he is holding things back, rather that Bogues is genuinely someone who is proud of his accomplishments and secure in his achievements.

Reading the three books what strikes me is how the amount of success a player had is no guarantee of how satisfied they will be post-career. Pippen, with 6 titles, looks back at how he was underappreciated. Oakley, who appeared in NBA finals, looks back with some regret but with pride for always being himself. Bogues, who never made it past the Conference semi-finals, looks back with the contentment of beating the odds and achieving far more than anyone thought he could.

 🏀‘Blood in the Garden: The Flagrant History of the 1990s New York Knicks’ by Chris Herring (2022)

For younger basketball fans accustomed to the Knicks, for want of a better word, sucking, it can be hard to remember that during the 1990s, they were one of the great NBA teams. For 10 years they make the playoffs each season and made it to the NBA Finals twice. Had they not coincided with the Jordan era Bulls, it’s highly likely they would have achieved even more.

Blood in the Garden tells the story of the Knicks from the arrival of former Lakers coach Pat Riley in 1991 to the departure of coach Jeff Van Gundy in 2001. Herring brings the central cast of players, coaches, and executives to life in vivid detail but also builds the wider picture of a club, an organization and a wider league.

Condensing 10 years of playoff seasons into a book that is also packed with anecodtes and vivid profiles, Herring zooms in on particular events and games that reflect the the essence of the 90’s Knicks. It was a team built around Patrick Ewing and a philosophy of playing hard, letting the other teams know they were in a contest. The book strikes a perfect balance of insight, anecdote, game action, and narrative. It’s strength is its focus on relationships, on the dynamics between various characters and how those men and those dynamics shaped the team’s performance.

Blood in the Garden is an excellent book due to both the quality of writing and the immense depth of research undertaken. But what fascinates me most is that the book is ultimately about a team that didn’t win a Championship. There are great books about various NBA championship winning teams and dynasties, and books about great players (whether they ultimately won a title or not), but we rarely get great books about teams that ultimately don’t get that moment of glory. Herring has shown that a well told, well researched and well crafted story of sport at the highest level can be just as (or more!) compelling without that final moment of ever lasting glory.

If you like this book, also check out: Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s by Jeff Pearlman or When the Garden Was Eden: Clyde, the Captain, Dollar Bill, and the Glory Days of the New York Knicks by Harvey Araton.

‘Three-Ring Circus: Kobe, Shaq, Phil and the Crazy Years of the Laker Dynasty’ by Jeff Pearlman (2020)

A new Jeff Pearlman book is always something to savour. I really enjoyed his various biographies, especially his recent Gunslinger on Brett Farve. However, his in-depth deep dives into iconic sports teams (both on and off the field of play) are among the very best sports books.

Pearlman previously chronicled the Magic Johnson / Pat Riley led LA Lakers in the excellent Showtime. It’s the definitive book on the Showtime Lakers era.

Three-Ring Circus sees Pearlman return to familiar territory of an LA Lakers championship winning team. The book tells the story of next 1996 to 2004 Lakers as Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and coach Phil Jackson combined to create a 3 time champion team.

Shaq of that era emerges as a loveable figure both in the public imagination, to strangers and to anyone who showed him love and respect. The book is full of stories of Shaq’s remarkable kindness but it also paints a picture of a man who knew his own value and for whom being loved / respected was all important.

Jackson remained steadfastly himself during his time in LA, a character familiar to anyone who remembers his remarkable achievements with Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. He was an unorthodox coach, unloved by his fellow coaches and unafraid to hustle for jobs that weren’t vacant. He was also an incredibly successful man-manger and possibly the only coach who could have wrangled Shaq and Kobe into working together for the benefit of the team.

While all three men share central billing, inevitably, due to his fame, personality and talent, Kobe Bryant sits firmly at the centre of this story. Pearlman pulled no punches in presenting Bryant how his peers experienced him during this time. The Kobe Bryant portrayed in Three-Ring Circus is deeply unlikeable yet also admirable in his determination and work ethic. A man you wouldn’t want to spend time with but one who was destined to be successful.

It’s clear throughout the book that most of Pearlman’s interviewees spoke to him before Bryant’s tragic death. It’s a little jarring to read such an honest and unflattering portrait of someone so soon after they died. Pearlman goes into a fair bit of detail on the serious rape allegation that overshadowed Bryant’s early successes and mentions the oft-forgotten fact that Bryant all but accepted the young lady didn’t consent to their encounter when apologising after charges were dropped. It makes for difficult reading having consumed months of glowing memorials to Bryant’s legendary career since his death.

Shaq and Kobe 1 on 1

As Pearlman says in the introduction, however, the Kobe of then is not the Kobe of post 2005. Its easy to judge someone who experienced an unimaginable life lived in the public eye since he was a teenager. I’m not sure how well I (or anyone) would come across in a book detailing their life between 17 and 25.

The book doesn’t neglect the other important personalities and Pearlman’s tireless research ensured he got fascinating insights from lots of other players who helped to make the Lakers championship teams. As he says in the book, people seemed to really enjoy talking about this team and their experiences which is reflected in how enjoyable it is to read about them!

Despite the Lakers remarkable success with 4 final appearances and 3 championships in 5 years, and some remarkable runs of form, the team seemed to constantly be on the verge of falling apart. It is testament to both the players’ overwhelming talent and Jackson’s remarkable ability to manage superstars that they achieved such success. This was a dynasty that was never going to last however. Neither Shaq or Kobe could ever be happy in the others shadow, both needed centre stage and the adulation that came with being the dominant player on a championship team.

Three-Ring Circus is a fascinating slice of basketball history. A must for any sports book library.

Shaq and Kobe: Dynamic Duo Documentary

‘Losers: Dispatches from the Other Side of the Scoreboard’ edited by Mary Pilon and Louisa Thomas (2020)

‘History is written by the victors’ is one of those many quotes that gets attributed to Winston Churchill. History is written about the victors might by more accurate when it comes to sport. It’s the stories of winners that we remember and that get the most books, articles and attention.

Losers is a fascinating collection of stories written from the perspective of losers – a very broadly defined term given that the essays cover some very successful athletes! The stories all share a common theme of reflecting on defeat in sport, its impact and the challenges of bouncing back. Fourteen of the essays are new unpublished work and are complemented by eight classic pieces including Gay Talese’s superb essay on Floyd Patterson.

The stories each offer different perspectives and range from sombre to hilarious. The subjects covered range from obscure to famous. Each story is insightful and works well as a standalone piece. Like all good collections, however, the sum of the whole adds up to more than its individual parts. Together the collection represents a brilliant reflection on human nature. Stories of how we respond to failure, and bounce back (or at least try to) capture something far more universal than the more written about moments of unbelievable glory.

The quality of the collection is reflected by how difficult I’m finding to pick a favourite. I’ll go for Jeremy Taiwo’s (as told to Stefaine Loh) reflection on being the 2nd best decathlete in the USA and Brian Platzer’s take on two young table tennis players chasing Olympic glory. Each story is a treat though and the collection one to saviour.

Losers is published August 18 2020

‘State: A Team, A Triumph, A Transformation’ by Melissa Isaacson (2019)

As a kid, my entire week would be determined by how my soccer team did on Saturday. I lived for Limerick Schoolboy football . I still list being named the best player in my league at under-10 level as one of the top 5 moments of my life! I’m fully on board with the significance of school age sports!

There are some superb accounts of particular seasons of underage sports teams – The Miracle of St Anthony and Friday Night Lights remain two of my favourite books. Very few such books either cover women’s sports or offer a first person account of a writer’s own teenage sports career. State: A Team, A Triumph, A Transformation is Melissa Isaacson’s account of her high school basketball team – the 1979 Illinois State Championship winning Niles West High School team

Girl’s high school sport had only just started in the area as US law (Title IX) requiring equal treatment of girls in all school activity had passed 3 years previously. Isaacson’s compelling first-person account of a group of high school girls who came together to win a State championship really captures the time and place of that new dawn in women’s sport in the USA. It touches on gender discrimination, the struggle for equality and the particular challenges for girls discovering their athletic identity.

State is at its core a love-letter to team sports. It captures the hard work, the joy, the pain and the friendship that comes with playing for a team at a time in your life where it can matter more than anything. The book paints a vivid picture of the girls and their coaches. Isaacson draws the reader in and gives a real sense of who these people are and in particular what basketball meant to them. The writing puts you in the moment. At times the book gives a little bit too much on-court detail, but Isaacson’s fluid writing style ensures it never feels bogged down.

Isaacson became an award-winning sports reporter for the Chicago Tribune, covering the Chicago Bulls during their championship years. Many will have seen her as a talking head on the recent The Last Stand documentary. Isaacson spent years writing this story and this level of detail, attention and love, together with her quality in as a writer is clearly apparent in the book.

Read the Book, Watch the Documentary – Allen Iverson

  • Book – ‘Not a Game: The Incredible Rise and Unthinkable Fall of Allen Iverson’ by Kent Babb (2015)
  • Documentary – ‘Iverson’ directed by Zatella Beatty (2014) 
  • Documentary – ‘No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson’ directed by Steve James (2010)

Allen Iverson is the smallest player in history to be the NBA’s MVP – the best player in the league over an entire season. He is also a former Rookie of the year, no. 1 draft pick, an 11 time All-Star, 4 time top point scorer and 3 time steals leader among countless other accolades.

His cultural impact is arguably even greater than his on-court achievements. He was an icon for millions of young men, especially African Americans, for his refusal to compromise his image and ‘tone down’ his own personal style. His hairstyle and fashion choices were constantly scrutinised and his shoe line for Reebok is the no.2 all time best seller behind only Jordan’s Nike range.

Iverson’s story is easiest understood in three parts – his early years, his basketball career, and now his post basketball life.

The early years are covered in Not a Game and  in both documentaries. Iverson was nationally famous even before he played college basketball. Despite being only 6ft tall, as a sophomore he was the number 1 ranked high school basketball player in the US. He may also have been even better as a football player (covered in this fascinating VICE article).

He was catapulted to national attention however when he was tried, and ultimately convicted, for his part in a brawl at a bowling alley that left a number of people injured. The trial, conviction and frankly ridiculous 5 year sentence handed down to Iverson and his co-defendants was a huge story and an event that exposed damaging racial tensions in his community.

Kent Babb’s excellent book Not a Game focuses heavily on both the rise and fall of Iverson with chapters alternating between his early years in Virginia and his fall towards divorce and bankruptcy one his playing career ended. Babb extensively covers his difficult childhood, his phenomenal talents and of course, the trial which nearly ruined his career before it began.

not a game

As the subtitle suggests, No Crossover focuses heavily on the trial and the circumstances surrounding it. The central theme of the film is the role that race played in both the outcome and the perception of Iverson’s trial. Director Steve James grew up in the area and uses that local knowledge, and his late father’s contacts, to get people to open up on an issue many may have preferred to stay silent on. It’s a fascinating study on the difficult race relations in the community and America more generally.

Iverson covers similar ground to the other two in terms of Allen’s early years.  It’s noticeably very positive about the influence of Gary Moore, Iverson’s long time mentor and manager.   It must be noted that Moore is an executive producer of the documentary and Not a Game paints an arguably more objective view noting that Moore has benefited hugely financially from Iverson and that some of his advice to Iverson has been questionable at best.

Both films and the book cover similar ground in showing how Iverson, with the support of family and one incredibly kind-hardhearted teacher (who is strangely not mentioned in Iverson), put his time in prison behind him and became a basketball superstar first at Georgetown and then in the NBA.

Iverson’s actual basketball career is touched on fairly lightly in both the book and No Crossover.  Here Iverson is excellent as it includes brilliant footage of Allen using his remarkable incredible athletic gifts.

Arguably Iverson’s most famous play when he crossedover Michael Jordan

Not a Game however paints a picture of a player who was a nightmare for his coaches off the court despite being so effective every time he played. Iverson’s relationship with his 76ers coach Larry Brown is a fascinating central thread running through the book. Despite constant clashes, Brown clearly has a huge amount of fondness for Iverson as he continuously tried to help him later in his career both in finding a team and in making the US Olympic team.

No Crossover ends in 2009 as Iverson’s career is winding down. It touches on criticism of Iverson for his lack of involvement in his hometown while recognising the obvious reasons he feel less than positive about returning. I don’t think the director could have predicted how bleak the following few years would be for Iverson.

The grimness of Iverson’s post career life is however a key focus of Not a Game and the weakest part of Iverson.  In that film, and related media coverage of its release, Iverson addressed long-discussed rumours of financial struggles, denying any notion that he was struggling. “That’s a myth. That’s a rumor… The fact that I’m struggling in any part of my life”, he said.

With access to extensive court records generated by Iverson’s divorce, Babb paints a much bleaker, and likely more accurate, picture of a former superstar unable to adjust to a more modest (yet still substantial) income, and the fact that he was no longer considered good enough to merit an NBA contract (especially with the baggage he brought).

The book and films complement each other well. Not a Game is an impeccably researched, excellently written account of Iverson’s life. It tells the story of his cultural and sporting impact but also the impact his success had on him.

No Crossover zooms in on one of the key events of Iverson’s young life and tells a broader story about race in America. It also contains brilliant clips of a young Iverson that demonstrate just what a freakishly talented athlete he was.

The one weakness of both No Crossover and Not a Game is the refusal of Iverson to co-operate with either. While there is a clear attempt at objectivity in both, Iverson’s own voice is missing. His public comments are often contradictory leaving it difficult to ascertain his own thoughts and motives.  Iverson fills this gap, and while it lacks objectivity at times, its a good counter-balance to the other two.   While it touches on criticism, it’s clearly not a warts and all approach focusing heavily on his basketball career and cultural impact.

Iverson’s most famous press conference – We talkin’ about practice!

As for Iverson himself, I’m left with conflicted emotions. The very fact he achieved so much despite his upbringing and the scapegoating of his trial deserves enormous respect. He is clearly a charismatic and often likeable guy whose talent I greatly enjoyed watching throughout my childhood. The grim details of his post career fall and particularly the aggressive behaviour towards his wife detailed in Not a Game, paint a more complicated picture of a man not quite satisfied in himself despite his successes.

Together both films and the book provide a comprehensive look at all the stages of the life to date of one of the most interesting, exciting, controversial and talented ballers of modern times.