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READ: NBA Encyclopaedia -  Jan Hubbard (Ed.)

Publisher: Doubleday

Price: £35

The definitive NBA record book - with a foreword by Michael Jordan, this new edition follows the path of basketball from its infancy in Springfield under the bright mind of Dr. James Naismith, right through the post-war birth of teams like the Celtics and the Knickerbockers, up to today's young starS.

With features written by some of basketball's best observers, the Encyclopaedia covers a multitude of subjects - Jordan, Innovators, the ABA and the International Game to name but a few - but its genius is the manner in which they are brought to life rather than merely catalogued by the numbers.

You get an insight into the words, and minds, of the people who were there and get a feel about how and why the NBA grew into its present day incarnation.

"The great thing about basketball is that it never changes," writes Orlando coach Doc Rivers, but we see the evolution, the other leagues than didn't make it and the great players they produced. 

We learn how Earl Lloyd smashed the race barrier when he suited up for Washington in 1950 and how after that team - the Capitols folded - he won a championship on the now defunct Syracuse Nationals five years later.

We relive the first proper Slam Dunk Contest - orchestrated by the ABA - when Julius Erving let fly at the free throw line and "took off.. into basketball legend".

Plus there are in-depth biographies of the finest players and coaches ever to take to the parquet.

For those who want to pour over the numbers, there is little to be disappointed with - every point, every draftee, every achievement of note over the past 54 seasons is catalogued for posterity. Names such as Colin Irish, Jim Brandon and Alton Byrd get their one line brush with NBA fame.

Full of pictures and edited with a sure touch by Jan Hubbard, if you love the NBA, you'll want a copy.

Rating:  10/10

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