Know the guy who checks his phone every five minutes for the latest sports scores? Or the one who wears the same, stinky, “lucky” jersey to the bar every weekend to watch his football team play—and refuses to shave his beard until his beloved Red Sox clinch the World Series? ( Yep, that happened.) We know that guy and a bunch of sports-obsessed ladies too, so we’ve gathered a list of books we thought they might like for Christmas this year. From revealing player memoirs to splashy coffee-table books, they’re all here. Score big with your friends and fam by giving these books as gifts this holiday season.
Of all the sports memoirs to come out this year, Mike Tyson’s long-awaited “Undisputed Truth” has to be the most explosive. Right out of the gate (literally on page one), the former boxing champ addresses the alleged rape he served jail time for in the ’90s—and doesn’t back down from there. Another great pick: tennis legend Jimmy Connors’s equally candid “The Outsider,” which covers Connors’s star career and his rocky romance with fellow tennis phenom Chris Evert (bombshell alert). Finally, for the basketball nut in your life, pick up NBA legend Julius “The Doctor” Erving’s “Dr. J.” Younger fans might not know it, but Erving basically created the “slam” dunk, changing the game forever.
What’s new in baseball
The season may be over, but baseball fans don’t have to turn the page on their favorite sport. Veteran Sports Illustrated scribe Steve Rushin delivers a comprehensive history of the game in his quirky, cool “The 34-Ton Bat,”which tells baseball’s story through tchotchkes: bobble-heads, trading cards, pennants and more. Fans will also appreciate Ben Bradlee, Jr.’s “The Kid,” a new biography due out in December about Red Sox legend Ted Williams, as well as retired catcher Mike Piazza’s “Long Shot” and former Yankees star Reggie Jackson’s “Becoming Mr. October.”
3. Eleven Rings
Coaches’ words of wisdom
Two of the winningest coaches in basketball released memoirs this year: Retired NBA coach Phil Jackson and the University of Louisville’s Rick Pitino. Before he stepped away from the game in 2011, Jackson led the Chicago Bulls and the L.A. Lakers to a collective 11 NBA championships, a winning streak he relives in his aptly titled “Eleven Rings.” In “The One-Day Contract,” Pitino—who brought his Louisville Cardinals to another NCAA Division I championship last March—also reveals how he turns out such great players. The trick? Teaching guys to forge contracts with themselves every day, for every task—and fulfilling them to the last.
The best ice hockey stories
In the 1970s, before Larry Bird rerouted the city’s attention from the ice to the hardwood, Bobby Orr was Boston’s most beloved export. For 10 years, the speedy Canadian-born defensemen played for the Boston Bruins, leading the team to two Stanley Cup championships in 1970 and 1972. Famously press-shy, Orr rarely sits for interviews, but tells all in his new memoir, “Orr.” For fans interested in the history of the sport, also check out Stephen Harper’s love letter to hockey, “A Great Game” (click on the book link for a fascinating video clip). North of the border you’re practically born with a hockey stick in your hands. Through the story of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Harper—who, if you didn’t know it, happens to be Canada’s prime minister–discusses the sport’s fixed place in Canadian culture while also recounting how the National Hockey League was born.
For football fiends
One of the most buzzed-about books of the fall, “League of Denial,” by journalists (and brothers) Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, is a not-to-be-missed investigation into the handling of chronic brain injury within the NFL. Fainaru-Wada and Fainaru claim the NFL covered up evidence linking hard, repeated hits to chronic brain disease; through dozens of interviews with doctors, league officials, current and former players and their friends and families, the brothers craft a damning picture of what the league may have known and how they allegedly hid it from view. For another window into the game, pick up David Sheinin’s “RG3,” about Washington Redskin quarterback and preposterously gifted athlete Robert Griffin III—or check out more great football books here.
Golf books galore
What’s life as a caddie really like? In his highly entertaining, sometimes raunchy “Loopers,” former caddie John Dunn recalls the 20 itinerant years he spent traveling the country and world toting golf bags for the rich and famous. “18 in America” tells the story of another roaming golfer: Dylan Deither, who deferred college for a year at the age of 18 to play golf in each of the lower 48 states. Deither recruits strangers to play with him, spending hours on the course with veterans, autoworkers and others from all four corners of America. Over the course of his journey, he learns a lot—about the game and, as you’d expect, also about himself.
A bike guide and some coffee-table eye-candy
Not gonna lie: This might be my favorite gift of the lot. “City Cycling: Europe,” a boxed set of guides to eight European cycling-friendly cities, is about the coolest thing you can give a bike geek this Christmas short of a shiny new Trek. Filled with colorful fold-out maps, illustrations and tips on places to visit, each guide is as attractive to look at as it is handy. If biking isn’t your favorite sports fan’s thing, scope out one of these lush coffee-table photo books: “Fifty Places to Ski and Snowboard Before You Die”and “Incredible Waves,” a gorgeous surf photography folio featuring pictures from big curl hotspots around the world. (Sadly, hot surfers not included.)