7 sports books that inspire

From the story of a long-distance ocean swimmer to a basketball player who turned his life around after regular run-ins with the law, these new titles offer inspiration and variety. 

2. ‘Elgin Baylor: The Man Who Changed Basketball,’ by Bijan C. Bayne

As amazing as it seems, this is the first biography of Baylor, whose sensational 13-year NBA career, spent entirely with the Minneapolis and Los Angeles Lakers, is often overlooked today. Yet he is considered one of the NBA’s all-time greats, an innovative player whose aerial acrobatics and hanging, twisting shots set a high standard for such stars as Julius Erving and Michael Jordan who followed him. Baylor led Seattle University to the 1958 NCAA championship game, averaged 38.3 points a game during the 1961-62 season, and refused to tolerate racial discrimination. He once was even  the league’s Executive of the Year with the Los Angeles Clippers, in 2006, during one of the few bright spots in franchise history. 

Here’s an excerpt from Elgin Baylor:

“By the time Baylor became a less acrobatic player, basketball had become more established as a TV commodity. Baylor had played three seasons during his prime when the NBA had no national TV contract; once pro ball hit TVs throughout the country, the sporting media had shifted its reverence for the one-on-one game to such frequent flyers as the Hawks’ “Pogo” Joe Caldwell, Baltimore’s Gus Johnson, and the Virginia Squires’ Julius Erving. By 1967-1968, players like Baltimore Bullets rookie Earl Monroe were bringing the full force of the playground aerodynamics to mass audiences. Baylor’s professional numbers exceeded Monroe’s, Erving’s, and Caldwell’s best production. He played in seven NBA Finals and led his college team to a NCAA championship game. Baylor dropped 61 points in a NBA Finals game against the greatest dynasty in basketball history [the Boston Celtics], facing the best defensive player of all time [Bill Russell].

“While Baylor was never able to acquire a mass following, players throughout the decades have credited him with inspiring and teaching them.”

2 of 7

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.