5 Classic Career Advice Books By Basketball Executives

Famous millionaires willing to spout advice about how to “make it” come a dime a dozen these days, making it hard to decide who’s guidance to follow. If you ask us, however, there are no better examples to learn from than the men and women who’ve made a living on and around the hardcourt. Some of basketball’s most powerful CEOs, presidents and other executives know exactly what it’s like going from humble beginnings to surviving in one of the least forgiving industries on earth, so it’s easy to see why their personal brand of motivation, ambition and business savvy can inspire you to take your career further. We found five classics that have stood the test of time, all from some of the NBA and college basketball’s best business minds.

How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It
By: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban
Mark Cuban is the sport’s most outspoken businessman and manages his own blog of sound career advice. He compiled a series of his best posts, edited and fixed up, to create How to Win at the Sport of Business, which takes readers from Cuban’s early days as a computer parts salesman to owning his own NBA franchise. Along the way, readers learn about taking risks, changing careers and realizing the educational value of every job and opportunity, whether you love it or it sucks. It’s also a fairly breezy read, great if you need that shot of inspiration to make the leap to whatever’s next in your career.


The Power of Negative Thinking: An Unconventional Approach to Achieving Positive Results
By: Former NCAA coach Bob Knight
Although unfailing optimism is often seen as the key to getting positive results, Bob Knight flips the script to tout the positive power of pessimism. In The Power of Negative Thinking, Knight suggests that victory is often achieved by those who screw up less—thus, by understanding and avoiding potential pitfalls, a good coach, boss, or entrepreneur sets himself up for a win. He also espouses the positives of dwelling on challenges, not successes, and how such a mindset can help you keep your business growing.


Leadership Excellence
By: Orlando Magic Senior Vice President Pat Williams
Pat Williams has written more than 70 books over the course of his career in the NBA, many of which have been dedicated to the theme that no one wins alone. In Leadership Excellence, Williams uses examples from history, business, religion and politics to highlight his seven sides of leadership: vision, communication, people skills, characters, competence, boldness and having a servant’s heart. Together, they become important tools that any boss can use to motivate his team.


Laker Girl
By: Los Angeles Lakers President Jeanie Buss
The best advice you can get comes from people who have had the odds stacked against them, which is why Jeanie Buss’ look at a businesswoman’s foray in a man’s NBA proves a must-read for anyone looking to climb the ladder themselves, male or female. Sure, Laker Girl is a memoir, but there are plenty of excellent examples of her business acumen that can be found among the pages which describe her lifetime career in great detail, from when she was thrust into the role of a top sports executive at age 19 onward.


Lead or Get Off the Pot!: The Seven Secrets of a Self-Made Leader
By: Former Philadelphia 76ers President Pat Croce
Pat Croce is one of the NBA’s most interesting stories, claiming the distinction of being the only person in the NBA to have risen from lowly team trainer to franchise owner. His leadership took the 76ers from dead last in the league to the NBA Finals in 2001, which is why you should pay attention to Lead or Get Off the Pot!. The book showcases his non-traditional approaches to team-building, service, leadership and balancing the three things no entrepreneur has a shortage of—attitude, assets and ambition.


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