Kobe Bryant’s impact on the world of basketball will be felt forever, a fact made evident in a new book from National Geographic Kids and ESPN called It’s a Numbers Game! Basketball, hitting bookstores February 4th. Perhaps his last published writing, Kobe Bryant provides the foreword for this book that walks kids through the ins and outs of the sport, breaking down the physics and geometry principals that turn good players into great players and offering real-world challenges they can practice to improve their game.
The book is broken up into seven chapters. “On the Court!” walks kids through the history of the sport and its unlikely origins, as well as the specifics of the court and how it changes between NBA, college, high school, and international regulations. Similarly, “Perfect Timing” covers a lot of the rules, including the 24-second shot clock, how that time was chosen, and how it changes depending on the rules of the organization (NBA, WNBA, NCAA, FIBA, etc…). The positions of the five players on court at a time are extensively covered in “Are You a 1 or a 5?” and the section also points out some legendary players from the NBA and WNBA.
Now that you know the history of the sport, the positions, and the specifics of the court, it’s time to learn the rules of the game. “Ball Movement” covers the specifics of dribbling and the types of it, including the double dribbling foul and how to avoid it. It also covers types of passes and dunks and some of the physics behind it like where to be on the court and what to aim for on the headboard to have a greater chance of making the shot. This section is the most like a playbook and likely the one kids will keep referring back to as they work to improve their basketball skills.
Each chapter includes at least one activity that kids can do to practice the book’s teachings in the real world, often with friends. In “It’s All About the Gear,” some science is applied to the uniforms used and how they’ve evolved, with particular detail on the shoes. But the fun activity at the end encourages kids to design their own uniform and sneakers, which is the only one that doesn’t put a ball into their hands.
The last two sections are where the numbers really come in. “Stat City” is all about how player stats are tracked along with some records held by top players throughout the history of basketball. It also goes into detail about some of the newest technologies used, including sensors in shoes and cameras throughout the court to develop heat maps for players. “Crazy Numbers” is a fun chapter that dissects some important numbers from the history of the sport.
Whether your kids are basketball fans or just sports nuts, there are a lot of fun facts and tips in National Geographic Kids It’s a Numbers Game! Basketball with a foreword by Kobe Bryant. In collaboration with ESPN, the book celebrates the history of the sport and breaks down the motor mechanics, physics, and math of the sport in an easy-to-understand way. Kids can apply the knowledge gained through this book to their practice sessions or if nothing else, will develop a deeper appreciation for the sport.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.