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.
'Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior'
The only book on Davis's list authored by a non-writer is by the greatest basketball coach in history. Phil Jackson had only won the first three of his record 11 NBA titles when he wrote 'Sacred Hoops,' a book that is part biography and part coaching bible.
"Phil Jackson came from a . . . unique environment," Davis says. "He grew up in North Dakota and Montana, and was around Native American culture, and both of his parents were Presbyterian ministers, so it's just a unique starting point for somebody who became, you know, the most decorated coach in basketball history."
Famous for his unorthodox coaching methods, Jackson explains how he adapts the precepts of Zen Buddhism, the ways of the Lakota Sioux, and other alternative styles to the task of coaching the Chicago Bulls. They range from group meditation sessions, to hanging Lakota warrior items on the locker room shelf, to splicing segments of the movie 'Wizard of Oz' into game films to make a point.
Davis suggests that 'Sacred Hoops' is like the beginner's class into the Tao of Phil Jackson and that his most recent book, 'Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success,' which examines his entire career from a Knicks forward to the best coach in history, is the graduate course.
"He's got 11 titles as a coach and also two as a player – I said to him, shouldn't it be 13 rings?"