Automotive Holiday Deals Up to 50% Off Select Books Shop Men's Athletic Shoes Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon Prime Music Sweepstakes egg_2015 All-New Amazon Fire TV Luxury Beauty Gifts Under $50 Amazon Gift Card Offer cm15 cm15 cm15 $30 Off Amazon Echo $15 Off All-New Fire Kindle Voyage Cyber Monday Sweepstakes in Prime Music Shop Now HTL
The Art of a Beautiful Game and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Buy Used
Condition: Used: Acceptable
Comment: Fast Shipping - Safe and Secure Bubble Mailer!
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Art of a Beautiful Game: The Thinking Fan's Tour of the NBA (Sports Illustrated) Hardcover – November 3, 2009

37 customer reviews

See all 5 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$2.74 $0.01

Take an Extra 30% Off Any Book

Special Offers and Product Promotions

  • Take an Extra 30% Off Any Book: Use promo code HOLIDAY30 at checkout to get an extra 30% off any book for a limited time. Excludes Kindle eBooks and Audible Audiobooks. Restrictions apply. Learn more | Shop now

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The conventional wisdom among casual NBA fans holds that the game is an improvisational, formless shoot-a-thon played by undisciplined athletes whose abilities are the product of genetics rather than practice. To which Sports Illustrated reporter Ballard replies, “Ha!” He explores such topics as killer instinct in a chapter on Los Angeles Lakers’ star Kobe Bryant in which it’s revealed that his legendary competitiveness can be traced back to a summer league where, as a 12 year-old matched against NBAers and collegiates, he didn’t score a single point. Never again. He also explores the big man’s world by examining the games of Shaquille O’Neal, Yao Ming, and Hall-of-Famer David Robinson. There are chapters revolving around pure shooters ( Ray Allen), point guards (Steve Nash), and rebounders (Ben Wallace). In his examination of the free throw, he profiles Tom Amberry, a retired podiatrist who, in 1993 at 71, made 2,750 consecutive free throws over 10 hours in front of 10 paid witnesses. Amberry’s feat and the Steve Nash profile are worth the price of the book. Ballard’s previous foray into book-length basketball journalism was Hoops Nation, a 1999 Booklist Top 10 sports book. The titular thinking fans will find their admiration confirmed; casual fans will see the light and find themselves converted. Hallelujah! --Wes Lukowsky


" 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

Hero Quick Promo
Holiday Deals in Kindle Books
Save up to 85% on more than 1,000 Kindle Books. These deals are valid until November 30, 2015. Learn more

Product Details

  • Series: Sports Illustrated
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (November 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439110212
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439110218
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,143,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chris Ballard is a senior writer at Sports Illustrated, where he specializes in narrative longform stories. He has also written for the New York Times Magazine, among other publications, and his work has been anthologized in The Best American Magazine Writing and The Best American Sports Writing series (four times). Ballard is the author of four books: "Hoops Nation", "The Butterfly Hunter", "The Art of a Beautiful Game" and "One Shot at Forever: A Small Town, An Unlikely Coach and a Magical Baseball Season," which won an Alex Award from the American Library Association.

Ballard joined SPORTS ILLUSTRATED in September 2000. He has covered the NBA and MLB, written more than a dozen cover stories, penned the back page "Point After" column and written features on everything from pigeon racing to Jake Plummer's post-football life to the Vancouver riots. He was one of five 2012 finalists for a National Magazine Award in profile writing, is a past recipient of a National Headliner Award and was the 2011 winner of The Joanie Award for a story about Cal Berkeley coxswain Jill Costello, who died of lung cancer after her senior year. His 2010 story titled "The Magical Season of the Macon Ironmen provided the inspiration for his latest book. Four of his stories have been optioned for feature films, including "One Shot," which is currently in development by Legendary Pictures.

Before joining SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Ballard was an intern at the Courier-Post in Camden, NJ and attended Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Ballard has appeared on The Charlie Rose Show, ABC News with Dick Schaap, and Outside the Lines, among others, and speaks regularly to groups of journalism students. A native Californian, Ballard graduated from Pomona College, where he played basketball, was on the track and field team and drank lots of cheap beer. He lives in Berkeley with his wife and two daughters.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Peter J. Mcentegart on November 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
It's fashionable to say that pro athletes don't have anything interesting to say. Maybe that's because they're not being asked the right questions. Chris Ballard, who covers the NBA for Sports Illustrated, asks the right questions. Namely, he gets players to talk at length on what they're most passionate about -- the intricacies of the sport that is their life's work. These men are justifiably proud of their tricks of their trade, and they'd much rather describe how best to challenge a shooter without fouling him or block a shot from the weak side than answer the umpteenth question on where they might sign their next contract. It helps, too, that Ballard is a former college player and lifelong gym rat who can convince the players that he speaks their language, even if it turns out (SPOILER ALERT!) he may or may not be able to beat Steve Kerr in a 3-point shootout.

Perhaps best of all, Ballard relates all this insider scoop as if he was one of your buddies sharing a beer. That's presuming that one of your pals is able to get face time with Kobe, LeBron, Yao and company and report back not just with the hard facts but the juicy nuggets and gossip that make a night at the bar so sublime. That's what this book is: the ideal virtual drinking companion for the NBA fan. Bottoms up.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. A. Walsh VINE VOICE on March 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I chose Ballard's book over Bill Simmons' better-selling tome to serve a specific purpose: introduce my wife - who has developed an obsessive rooting interest in our local five (the 17-time champion Celtics) - to some of the finer points of the NBA game.

That, it turns out well for us, is a perfect use for Ballard's work. I don't say this to imply that it was beneath me (I am no basketball maven myself), or that it was great "for the little lady," but mean it as a recommendation of the book as a very smart, very accessible look at the finer points of the mechanical and strategic points of the game.

Ballard uses access to specific well-known NBA stars to explain the mechanics of things like the jump shot (Steve Kerr) and the box out (Dwight Howard), and he is able to fit in some anecdotes that never really feel too cutesy.

Between Ballard's book and the DVR rewind feature, my wife is now appreciating the games even more thoroughly, picking out pick and rolls but also beginning to really stretch her legs by doing things like watching action off the ball. That is the way to enjoy the NBA. Ballard's book will help you do it.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. Murray on December 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I think Chris Ballard has used this book to write from a very unique perspective. The author as fan. What I love about the
book is that he doesn't just dig into questions he assumes the fan-at-large might want to know. He asks questions he as a
hoop fan would want to know. And I think that makes him more connected to the reader. I found tips on bettering my game, stats
that'll sell my hoop talk with friends, and a sympatico soul -- someone who loves the game as much as I do.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Greenstone on November 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a real insider's gem of reporting. Chris Ballard does for basketball what George Will did for baseball, in Men at Work. Ballard's tenacious reporting skills, and obvious passion for the NBA make this book a treat for NBA fans (like myself), who want to know how the best NBA players approach their craft. Additionally, Ballard has a gift for getting behind the stars' carefully groomed personas, to give us glimpses of the players' passions and fears (who knew that Eric Snow made a highlights dvd of him dunking in college, to silence the mockery of his younger teammates). I just loved how Ballard tracked down Kobe's benchwarmer hs teammate and nash's hs coach, to gain a sense of their character. This kind of shoe-leather-heavy effort makes it seem that most sports reporters are lazy. Maybe they aren't, but with this book Ballard stands out from the pack. If you like the NBA, buy this book.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Peter Demarco on November 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I've always thought that NBA players rely pretty much on god-given athleticism to go out and score 20. But this book shows just how insanely dedicated the best ballplayers are about mastering skills like shot-blocking, boxing out or shooting a trey. I mean, they really study the stuff. Each of the profiles - Kobe, Yao Ming, Reggie Miller, etc. - could be titled, "Here's exactly what I'm thinking when I'm on the court. Glad you asked." Players actually love talking about the six different foot drills they do each day, the angle they hold their hands when they push off a screen, etc. And when they open up about that stuff, you start to get a sense about who they really are as people. Well, at least a far better sense than with most of the stuff I read or see about the NBA.

The author, who played college hoops, also engages players on and off the court for some pretty funny personal anecdotes - his story about meeting Shaq on his big, bad motorcycle is priceless. There's just tons of great details in the book about locker room rituals, player rivalries, etc, too. Call it a cliche, but I don't think I'll watch an NBA game the same way again.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Marilyn Kenyon on November 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I love NBA basketball and I loved this book. Chris Ballard does an excellent job covering the quintessential areas of basketball: Pure shooting, rebounding nuances, the dunk, the paradoxes of the free throw, shot blocking and more. He has carefully selected examples about well-known players, past games, and basketball highlights worth reviewing again and again. His spin is not so much on basketball mechanics, but the mental aspect of players and how that effects their performances for better or worse. Reading this book will forever change the way I watch a basketball game. Ballard's chapter on the art of rebounding has made me pay much more attention to those like Dwight Howard, who have honed this skill. It is the kind of book that I didn't want to put down.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews