According to the Wall Street Journal’s Hannah Karp, mostly the ones who weren’t born in America. Andrei Kirilenko, Adonal Foyle, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Emeka Okafor are all among the league’s most avid readers. Of those four, only Okafor was born in America, and Emeka is a first-generation American of Nigerian descent.
Many of the NBA’s 83 foreign-born players say reading was always the main form of entertainment in their home countries. Cleveland’s Mr. Ilgauskas says he grew up with no videogames and a TV that had only two channels. Nenad Krstic of the Oklahoma City Thunder says his basketball coaches in Serbia probably gave him as many books to read as his schoolteachers did when he was a child. “People are just brought up with more technology here,” says Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut, who grew up in Australia. (Mr. Bogut says he’s such a bookworm he can’t bring himself to use a Kindle. “I get more of a thrill out of going through the actual book like you’re supposed to,” he says.)
The NBA players who do read have diverse tastes. Ilgauskas is a military history buff. Okafor has read books like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Pau Gasol is 100 pages into the five-book, 893-page 2666, which Phil Jackson gave to him. The NBA game has become more and more influenced by the international style of play. We’ll see if pre-game reading catches on as well.