Chris Ballard sits down with the NBA’s most passionate, cerebral players to discover their tricks of the trade and to learn what drives them. He reveals the roots of Kobe Bryant’s limitless competitiveness; shadows LeBron James to figure out how he deploys his prodigious talent; and challenges Steve Kerr to a three-point shootout to analyze the mind-set of a pure shooter. Ballard tracks down renowned dunkers to explore the slam’s impact on today’s game, follows Shane Battier during his extensive pregame preparations, gets pointers from a free-throw shooting guru who once hit 2,750 in a row, and attends an elite NBA training camp to experience the pain that turns a prospect into a pro.
Packed with fascinating characters and startling anecdotes, and grounded in the 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, Dwight Howard, and Dirk Nowitzki who devote themselves to this elegant and complicated sport. It’s an inside read on the game that will surprise even diehard fans.
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.