For basketball fans, “Basketball’s Greatest Stars” by Michael Grange with a Foreword by Wayne Embry is a fun, large size coffee table type book with plenty of full color photographs, interesting write ups, fun career highlights, statistics, and trivia. The book contains fifty profiles of those the author chose as the greatest basketball players of all time. Regardless of who is on your list of top players, most if not all are included in this book.
In the Foreword by Wayne Embry, who has spent over 50 years in the professional basketball business, including being a Celtic in the 1967-68 championship season, he states that he doesn’t really like to say one player is better than another, but you can’t blame Michael Grange for comparing them, because that’s what basketball fans do. And that is why this book will appeal to fans of the game. It’s fun to see who Grange picked, read about your own favorites, and compare his list with your own. The book also provides you ammunition for when you are with your friends comparing the greats and why you believe them to be so.
After the introduction and foreword, there is a short chapter on moments that shaped the NBA, such as the merge of the BAA and NBL, widening of the lane, the shot clock, the ABA-NBA merger and the appointment of David Stern to name a few. Not to mention some great photographs, including one of my all time favorites, Julius Erving, soaring toward the basket.
Next comes a section called Best of the Best. The twenty-five players profiled here include: Abdul-Jabbar, Barkley, Barry, Baylor, Bird, Bryant, Chamberlain, Cousy, Duncan, Erving, Frazier, Garnett, Havlicek, James, Johnson, Jordan, Malone, Mikan, Olajuwan, O’Neal, Pettit, Robertson, Russell, and West. Great photos, profiles, career highlights, and facts are included for each. The profiles are only two pages each, but they are enough to remind us of these great players and what they did.
Next comes a chapter called The International Game. It’s a short section illustrating how basketball really is a global sport.
Next comes the Best of the Rest. The second half of Grange’s top fifty include: Archibald, Cowens, DeBusschere, Drexler, Ewing, Greer, Hayes, Howard, Iverson, Jones, Kidd, Maravich, Nash, Nowitzki, Paul, Payton, Pippen, Robinson, Reed, Sharman, Stockton, Thomas, Wade, Wilkins, and Worthy. The profiles are laid out just like the first twenty-five.
Next comes a short section on new math and how to look at what makes a player great beyond just what the numbers may show. Next is a brief look at the franchises. One page per team, and included are the team origins and the glory years or glimpses of glory for each team. There are also a couple of interesting facts about each team in a side box as well as one photo of a team player.
The book concludes with a chart of NBA Finals history and an index so you can find your favorite player easily. The back of the book says “Basketball’s Greatest Stars will be a slam-dunk for any fan.” I agree!