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.
'The City Game'
Before the arenas, the big crowds, the stadium lighting, and the hardwood, basketball was often played on concrete slabs in questionable urban areas. In this book, Pete Axthelm follows the New York Knicks' 1969–1970 season while also looking back on the period when the game was played mostly in the black neighborhoods of New York City by small-scale street stars like Earl "The Goat" Manigault.
"The story of street basketball is of guys who had the talent to make it big as players, but didn't have the discipline or the wherewithal or they got sidetracked by whatever distractions," Davis says. "This is all they had left: Dominating pickup basketball."
Second-hand accounts of Manigault, like "The City Game," are all the world has to gauge The Goat's prowess. There is no footage of him as a young player. He never played in the NBA and only briefly played in college, leaving room for artistic license in terms of his legendary leaping ability: He allegedly pulled a dollar bill off the top of the backboard and left change. Believed to be between 5-foot-11 and 6-foot-1, Manigault would have had to jump at least 60 inches to reach the 13-foot-high top of the backboard.