January 23, 2013 6:35 AM   Subscribe

Please recommend me the best books and films about basketball.

Non-fiction, novels, documentaries, films -- all recs welcome! If you loved it, I'd love hearing about it. But things I'm particularly interested in include analysis of the game itself, the the way basketball intersects with race, class and sexuality, the NBA, the WNBA, high school basketball (is there a Friday Night Lights of basketball?), interesting rivalries and narratives, and the New York Knicks. I'm probably less interested in biographies of individual players unless they're amazing.

Thank you, and cheers!
posted by Georgina to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: (Sorry the question reads a little weirdly -- I was editing it and hit post instead of preview. Somehow, I do this every time.)
posted by Georgina at 6:41 AM on January 23, 2013

Best answer: Hoop Dreams is a terrific documentary.
posted by ladybird at 6:41 AM on January 23, 2013 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Husbunny is ALL ABOUT the WNBA.

This is a Game Ladies, is a documentary about Rutgers Women's Basketball.

Love and Basketball is a great movie and goes into the European Leauges.

(Husbunny wakes up early on Saturday mornings to watch Turkish Women's basketball on the computer)

The Mighty Macs was a lot of fun.

Don't Let the Lipstick Fool You, by Lisa Leslie.

And for an up to the minute website, Swish Appeal, where you can read some of Husbunny's reporting and indepth analysis.

Be careful, if our household is any indication, this could be the start of a pretty horrific obsession.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:44 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The whole "Secret of Basketball" theme is a bit overblown, but Bill Simmons is one of the few remaining intelligent NBA commentators out there. His stuff at Grantland is always worth a read, and his Big Book of Basketball is a great historical look at the game.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:46 AM on January 23, 2013

Best answer: Oh, The White Shadow was the Friday Night Lights of High School Basketball.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:47 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'd recommend these two titles from the crazy folks from FreeDarko:

Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac (published in 2008 it's already dated in spots, like canonizing Gilbert Arenas...whoops...but it's an amazing book with insanely awesome artwork)

Undisputed Basketball History

This is a website, but the same people are involved in The Classical, which is excellent. Especially recommended is the why we watch series, which skews heavy to NBA stuff.
posted by mcstayinskool at 6:54 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

^^^^^^ Undisputed Basketball History is amazing.
posted by RabbleRabble at 7:07 AM on January 23, 2013

Best answer: If there's a Friday Night Lights of basketball, it's Hoosiers.
posted by hydrophonic at 7:12 AM on January 23, 2013

Best answer: The Pistol: The Birth of a Legend, the story of Pistol Pete Maravich, playing varsity basketball as an 8th grader.
posted by knile at 7:22 AM on January 23, 2013

It's weird to imagine asking this question and not having seen Hoosiers, but I'll second it as the Friday Night Lights of basketball. It is the quintessential high school basketball movie.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:25 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Seconding "Hoop Dreams", obviously. Also "Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks" (which appears to have been upped to YT and "Guru of Go" - both from of ESPN's 30 for 30 series - are excellent, and I think they fit the criteria you set out above.
posted by kxr at 8:02 AM on January 23, 2013

Best answer: Book about high school girls basketball: "In these Girls, Hope is a Muscle."
posted by cushie at 8:32 AM on January 23, 2013

I'd only read Bill Simmons if you have an affinity or high tolerance for snark and cloying pop culture references.

I'm pretty sure it's impossible to post on metafilter about Bill Simmons and not have someone immediately say how Simmons' columns stink for one reason or another. I'm a huge Simmons fan but at this point in his career I generally agree. I'd bet that if you could press Simmons on this he'd generally agree that he's been more or less phoning them in on autopilot for the past few years.

So don't read Simmons. But do listen to him. His podcast has been so, so good during the same period.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:25 AM on January 23, 2013

Best answer: Phil Jackson's Sacred Hoops is interesting stuff.

Spike Lee's Best Seat In The House isn't super-insightful, but it's fun.

I've heard good things about Shoot Out the Lights.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:01 AM on January 23, 2013

Best answer: Rebound: The Legend of Earl 'The Goat' Manigault is the semi-factual story of the best basketball player never to play in the NBA.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 10:23 AM on January 23, 2013

Hoosiers for certain. I bawl like a baby every time that I see it. Dennis Hopper's character is both inspiring and saddening.
posted by DRoll at 11:07 AM on January 23, 2013

Best answer: OK, He Got Game is the definitive movie about basketball in my opinion.
Speaking of spike lee, no matter what your feelings are about him OR Kobe Bryant, you have to see Doin Work.

White Men Can't Jump is ridiculous, but captures the Streetball experience a little bit. Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot is a doc about Streetball, and much better, though neither is as good as searching youtube for "And1." Through the Fire is about High School Bball and is great. Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals is an awesome HBO doc about the two best players ever.

Don't see Finding Forrester or Above the Rim or Love and Basketball. Those are too silly.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:08 PM on January 23, 2013

Best answer: Nthing Macrophenomenal, and anything by the crew of the late, lamented Free Darko. Bethlehem Shoals is still out there (I believe with The Classical, though he moves around a lot), and I believe the website is still up, though they aren't updating anymore. If you want to read intelligently written love letters to the best sport ever, that would be the source. And the art is fantastic.

That Kevin Garnett commercial is Free Darko shutting down.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:11 AM on January 24, 2013

Best answer: To Hate Like This is to be Happy Forever by Will Blythe is a great account of the Duke-UNC rivalry in college ball. I found it a really fascinating read because I attended UNC but wasn't raised in NC, so I didn't grow up with this like a lot of folks. It is really more about fans and their relation to the game than it is about the game itself.
posted by clerestory at 10:42 AM on January 24, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks so much for all the recommendations! I'm seen and read a few of them, but the rest are new to me and I'm looking forward to diving in.
posted by Georgina at 6:55 PM on January 24, 2013

Another recommendation I just came across: The Breaks of the Game (review at the link)

And yeah, for movies, He Got Game, Hoop Dreams, and Kobe Doin' Work are all excellent.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:31 AM on January 25, 2013

Benji is a documentary about Ben Wilson, who was killed not long after being named the top high school player in the country. Here's a trailer. Here's the whole thing.
posted by hydrophonic at 2:28 PM on January 25, 2013

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