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The Art of a Beautiful Game

The Art of a Beautiful Game

The Thinking Fan's Tour of the NBA

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.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 240 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439141175 | 
  • November 2009
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Read an Excerpt

Introduction

Some years ago I had the unenviable task of guarding Mark Aguirre in a pickup game. I’d like to say I held my ground as he posted me up, absorbing each of the bargelike blows he delivered with his hips and prodigious backside, holding strong against the Nor’easter of Ass he unleashed upon me. But I did not. Like so many opponents during Aguirre’s NBA days, I slid and stumbled and shuffled backward until he was essentially standing under the basket and I out-of-bounds. At which point he could merely reach up and lay the ball into the basket.

How I came to be guarding Aguirre was a matter... see more

About the Author

Chris Ballard
Gene Lower/Sports Illustrated

Chris Ballard

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.

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