In The Art of a Beautiful Game, Chris Ballard, the award-winning Sports Illustrated writer who has covered the NBA for the past decade, goes behind the scenes to examine basketball in ways that will surprise even die-hard fans. An inveterate hoops junkie who played some college ball, Ballard sits down with the NBA's most passionate, cerebral players to find out their tricks of the trade and to learn what drives them, taking readers away from the usual sports talk radio fodder and deep into the heart of the game.
Ballard talks to Dwight Howard, a prolific shot-blocker, about the enervating feeling of meeting another man at the height of his leap; challenges Steve Kerr to a game of H-O-R-S-E to understand the mentality of a pure shooter; reveals the roots of Kobe Bryant's unmatched killer instinct; and spends time with LeBron James to better understand both his mental game and his seemingly unlimited physical skills. He tracks down renowned dunkers from Dominique to Shaq to explore the impact of the dunk on the modern game, shadows Shane Battier during his preparations to defend LeBron, takes lessons from a freethrow shooting guru who once hit 2,750 in a row, and attends an elite NBA training camp to feel the pain that turns a prospect into a pro.
Packed with lively characters and basketball history, and grounded in superb writing and the reportage that is the hallmark of Sports Illustrated, The Art of a Beautiful Game is an often witty, always insightful look at the men like Steve Nash, Yao Ming, and Alonzo Mourning who devote themselves to this elegant and complicated sport. It ultimately provides basketball fans what they all want: an inside read on the game they love.
About the Author
Chris Ballard is a senior writer at Sports Illustrated covering the NBA and writing features. He has written profiles of people with offbeat professions for the New York Times Magazine and is the author of Hoops Nation, which was named one of Booklist’s Top Ten Sports Books of 1998, and The Butterfly Hunter. He lives in Berkeley, California.
" Chris Ballard has written a ten-drum honor song to the intricate blue-collar poetry of NBA basketball. You should always be inspired by an amazing assist, three-pointer, dunk, free throw, or blocked shot, but after reading this book, you should be even more inspired by the years of hard work it took any player to get to that moment. I love this book." -- SHERMAN ALEXIE, NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER
" The game has needed a smart, witty, cool-eyed deconstruction for decades. Now it's here." -- S. L. PRICE, AUTHOR OF HEART OF THE GAME
" The perfect storm -- great athletes collide with great writing. Sets the literary standard for getting inside the head and heart of greatness." -- LARRY COLTON, AUTHOR OF COUNTING COUP
" Some chroniclers specialize in breaking down the technical finer points, while others are poets and soul-searchers, explorers of the inner game. Only a precious few do both well, and Chris is at the top of that list, as he shows in The Art of a Beautiful Game." -- JACK McCALLUM, WINNER OF THE CURT GOWDY MEDIA AWARD FROM THE NAISMITH BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME
" Much has been written about the strategies of great basketball coaches. Chris Ballard tells us about the strategies of great basketball players. After reading Ballard's book, you will watch an NBA game differently -- with a new kind of understanding." -- BILL BRADLEY, FORMER U.S. SENATOR
" People love to claim that pro athletes never have anything interesting to say, but that's because they're usually asked stupid, nonessential questions. Yet ask any talented man about the details of his craft and he will inevitably tell you everything you need to know, including who that man truly is. And that's what Chris Ballard has done. This is a basketball book for people who actually care about basketball." -- CHUCK KLOSTERMAN, AUTHOR OF EATING THE DINOSAUR