Seth Davis was fated to cover basketball, which is exactly what he's been doing for the last 20 years. He attended Duke University during the school's era of domination in the late Eighties and early Nineties and befriended Mike Krzyzewski. Conversations with the legendary coach and all those Final Fours only deepened his obsession. That's why he now scribbles a constant stream of stories for 'Sports Illustrated,' provides analytical insight for CBS Sports, hosts "The Seth Davis Show" on CampusInsiders.com (where he sits down with legends like Phil Jackson and Mack Brown), and is about to release his third book, 'Wooden: A Coach's Life.'
"You would think that, after all of these years in the business, I would become jaded or I would become less of a sports fan, but I feel like as I'm getting older I'm becoming more of a sports fan," he says.
His obsession with sports and writing – "In my heart, in my soul, I am a writer" – has made Davis something of an expert on his own competition: journalists who write about basketball. He gave 'Men's Journal' a peak into his library, highlighting the greatest books about sports ever written.
'Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich'
Davis calls Kriegel "my biography coach" for good reason. Kriegel has authored three acclaimed ones, the first about Joe Namath and the most recent about Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini. But "Pistol" is a tale of obsession and basketball, of fathers and sons, that weaves several archetypal characters in a way more reminiscent of a Faulkner novel than of a sports biography.
"A vibrant character bought to life by an enormously, enormously gifted writer," Davis says of Maravich. "He was more of an almost Globetrotter type guy. He never played in the NCAA tournament, never won big, and then died young. He just fuckin' dropped dead on the basketball court playing pickup. I mean, it's really odd."
Maravich revolutionized the game in the 1960s, wearing floppy socks and shaggy hair and playing with a showy, quick-dribbling and unorthodox style. In averaging 44.2 points a game at Louisiana State University, he established records that are unlikely to ever be broken. He was basketball's answer to Elvis, a white Southerner who sold Middle America on a black man's game. And like Elvis, he paid a terrible price, becoming a prisoner of his own fame. Tortured by an embattled relationship with his father, Maravich was, in retrospect, trotted out more as a circus act than a great player.