Essential Books on Kobe Bryant
There are countless books on Kobe Bryant, and it comes with good reason, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, won five NBA championships, and spent his entire 20-year career with the storied Los Angeles Lakers.
“The mindset isn’t about seeking a result – it’s more about the process of getting to that result. It’s about the journey and the approach. It’s a way of life. I do think that it’s important, in all endeavors, to have that mentality,” he remarked.
In order to get to the bottom of what inspired one of history’s most consequential athletes to the height of his craft, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 best books on Kobe Bryant.
The Mamba Mentality by Kobe Bryant
In the wake of his retirement from professional basketball, Kobe “The Black Mamba” Bryant decided to share his vast knowledge and understanding of the game to take readers on an unprecedented journey to the core of the legendary “Mamba mentality.” Citing an obligation and an opportunity to teach young players, hardcore fans, and devoted students of the game how to play it “the right way,” The Mamba Mentality takes us inside the mind of one of the most intelligent, analytical, and creative basketball players ever.
In his own words, Bryant reveals his famously detailed approach and the steps he took to prepare mentally and physically to not just succeed at the game, but to excel. Readers will learn how Bryant studied an opponent, how he channeled his passion for the game, how he played through injuries. They’ll also get fascinating granular detail as he breaks down specific plays and match-ups from throughout his career.
The Rise by Mike Sielski
In The Rise, readers will travel from the neighborhood streets of Southwest Philadelphia – where Kobe’s father, Joe, became a local basketball standout – to the Bryant family’s isolation in Italy, where Kobe spent his formative years, to the leafy suburbs of Lower Merion, where Kobe’s legend was born. The story will trace his career and life at Lower Merion – he led the Aces to the 1995-96 Pennsylvania state championship, a dramatic underdog run for a team with just one star player – and the run-up to the 1996 NBA draft, where Kobe’s dream of playing pro basketball culminated in his acquisition by the Los Angeles Lakers.
In researching and writing this hallmark among books on Kobe Bryant, Mike Sielski had a terrific advantage over other writers who have attempted to chronicle the legend’s life: access to a series of never-before-released interviews with him during his senior season and early days in the NBA. For a quarter century, these tapes and transcripts preserved Kobe’s thoughts, dreams, and goals from his teenage years, and they contained insights into and told stories about him that have never been revealed before.
This is more than a basketball book. This is an exploration of the identity and making of an icon and the effect of his development on those around him – the essence of the man before he truly became a man.
Showboat by Roland Lazenby
Eighteen-time All-Star, scorer of 81 points in a single game, MVP, and one of the best shooting guards in NBA league history: Kobe Bryant is among basketball’s absolute greatest players, and his importance to the sport is undeniable. Third on the NBA career scoring list and owner of five championship rings, he is an undisputed all-time great, one deserving of this deep and definitive biography.
Even within the flashiest franchise in all of sports – the Los Angeles Lakers, where he played his entire career – Bryant always took center stage, and his final game captivated the basketball world, indeed the country. Roland Lazenby delves deep to look behind this public image, using classic basketball reporting and dozens of new interviews to reveal the whole picture, from Bryant’s childhood through his playing years.
Three Ring Circus by Jeff Pearlman
In the history of modern sport, there have never been two high-level teammates who loathed each other the way Shaquille O’Neal loathed Kobe Bryant, and Kobe Bryant loathed Shaquille O’Neal. From public sniping and sparring, to physical altercations and the repeated threats of trade, it was warfare. And yet, despite eight years of infighting and hostility, by turns mediated and encouraged by coach Phil Jackson, the Shaq-Kobe duo resulted in one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history. Together, the two led the Lakers to three straight championships and returned glory and excitement to Los Angeles. In the tradition of Jeff Pearlman’s other bestsellers, Three-Ring Circus is a rollicking deep dive into one of sports’ most fraught yet successful pairing.
The Gold Standard by Mike Krzyzewski
In his previous bestselling books, Coach K has guided readers to success the way he has guided his teams at Duke University – with the power of his inspirational words and phenomenal leadership skills.
But that was with college kids. Now, Coach K has stepped up to take on an entirely new challenge: volunteering to coach the US Olympic Basketball team.
Comprised of some of the biggest NBA stars, Coach K had to work with huge egos and personal rivalries in order to create an American team that could win against the best competition in the world and restore Team USA to the gold standard of basketball.
This is more than a celebratory book – it’s Coach K’s first-hand account of how he dealt with such stars as Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, and all the rest to buy into his “total team” play.
The Last Season by Phil Jackson
For the countless basketball fans who were spellbound by the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2003–2004 high-wire act, this book is a rare and phenomenal treat. In The Last Season, Lakers coach Phil Jackson draws on his trademark honesty and insight to tell the whole story of the season that proved to be the final ride of a truly great dynasty. From the signing of future Hall-of-Famers Karl Malone and Gary Payton to the Kobe Bryant rape case/media circus, this is a riveting tale of clashing egos, public feuds, contract disputes, and team meltdowns that only a coach, and a writer, of Jackson’s candor, experience, and ability could tell. Full of tremendous human drama and offering lessons on coaching and on life, this is a book that no sports fan can possibly pass up.
The Soul of Basketball by Ian Thomsen
The Soul of Basketball tells the story of an NBA prodigy, his league and their sport in the throes of crisis during the pivotal 2010-11 season. It began with The Decision, that infamous televised moment when uber-star LeBron James revealed that he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers – thereby distancing himself from his role model Michael Jordan – to pursue his first championship with his former opponents on the Miami Heat.
To the great fortune of LeBron, the NBA, and basketball itself, the mission didn’t work out as planned. Veteran NBA writer Ian Thomsen portrays the NBA as a self-correcting society in which young LeBron is forced to absorb hard truths inflicted by his rivals Kobe Bryant, Doc Rivers, and Dirk Nowitzki, in addition to lessons set forth by Pat Riley, Gregg Popovich, Larry Bird, David Stern, Joey Crawford and many more.
This is about the making of a champion. Brimming with inside access, The Soul of Basketball tells the inspiring story of LeBron’s loneliest year, insecure and uncertain, when his ultimate foe was an unlikely immigrant who renewed the American game’s ideals. From Miami to Boston, Los Angeles to Dallas, Germany to the NBA’s Manhattan headquarters, the biggest names in basketball are driven by something more valuable than money and fame – a quest that will pave the way for Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and future generations to thrive.
Relentless by Tim S. Grover
Direct, blunt, and brutally honest, Grover breaks down what it takes to be unstoppable: you keep going when everyone else is giving up, you thrive under pressure, you never let your emotions make you weak. He details the essential traits shared by the most intense competitors and achievers in sports, business, and all walks of life.
Relentless shows you how to trust your instincts and get in the Zone; how to control and adapt to any situation; how to find your opponent’s weakness and attack. Grover gives you the same advice he gives his world-class clients – “don’t think” – and shows you that anything is possible.
One of the few books Kobe Bryant has ever written an editorial review for, Bryant tells readers, “Tim Grover is the master of mental toughness. This book is the blueprint for discovering what you are capable of achieving, getting results you never imagined, reaching the highest level of success – and then going even higher.”
Remembering Kobe Bryant by Sean Deveney
When he entered the NBA in 1996 as a high-school star from Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, Kobe Bryant faced enormous expectations. No one can deny that he rose to the challenge. Today Bryant’s status as a future Hall of Fame player is assured. During his stellar career, Bryant won five NBA championships; was a seventeen-time All-Star, NBA MVP, and two-time NBA Finals MVP. He led the league in scoring in 2006 and 2007.
Now for the first time, hear stories from opponents, teammates, and players about what it was like to go against The Black Mamba in this absolute gem among books on Kobe Bryant.
Legacy and the Queen by Annie Matthew; Created by Kobe Bryant
GAME. SET. MAGIC.
Game – Tennis means life and death for the residents of the magical kingdom of Nova, and for twelve-year-old Legacy, it’s the only thing getting her through the long days taking care of the other kids at the orphanage. That’s all about to change when she hears about Silla’s tournament.
Set – Silla, the ruler of Nova, hosts an annual tournament for the less fortunate of her citizens to come and prove themselves and win entrance to the Academy, where they can train to compete at nationals. The prize is Silla’s favor and enough cash to keep open the orphanage, and Legacy has her heart set on both.
Magic – What Legacy has yet to know is that the other players have something besides better skills and more money than she does. In Nova, tennis can unlock magic. Magic that Silla used to save the kingdom long ago and magic that her competitors have been training in for months already.
Now, with the world turned against her and the orphanage at stake, Legacy has to learn to use her passion for the game to rise above those around her and shine.
If you enjoyed this guide to essential books on Kobe Bryant, check out our list of The 10 Best Books on Michael Jordan!