Great Works of Fiction by Great American Athletes

The Winter Olympics are underway, bringing with them threats of terrorism, institutionalized bigotry, wild dogs, and finally world class athleticism. While many great authors have tackled the sporting world, and many great athletes have written memoirs, we thought we’d take this opportunity to reflect on some of the best fiction ever produced by professional athletes.

Michael Jordan

Mack Bolan, The Executioner #347 The Explosion Device

It’s widely known that in 1994 Michael Jordan left Basketball behind to pursue his dual passions for Minor League Baseball and gambling; lesser known is that Jordan, under the penname Don Pendelton, also penned an entry in the long-running Mack Bolan series during that time. The novel finds Bolan hunting a femme fatale named Maxie Teets across the slums of Eugene, Oregon, in order to prevent her from using the titular Explosion Device to destroy the porno theater where Bolan’s parent’s met. Jordan’s prose flows with unstoppable momentum, mimicking the movements of the man himself during his best years on The Bulls.

Orenthal James Simpson

If I Did It

In one of the most audacious displays of imagination in the history of fiction, Simpson’s postmodern epic follows a character named OJ Simpson as he plots and carries out a brutal double murder. Released in 2007, critics at the time found it difficult to get past the graphic nature of the material; it remains to be seen whether future audiences eventually embrace this work as the subversive masterpiece that it is.

John McEnroe

Jericho’s Notion: Fist of the Guardian part I

The notoriously hot-headed McEnroe penned the first entry in this never completed trilogy in 1989 out of pure spite after being ejected from a Waldenbooks for ripping the centerfolds out of Playboy Magazines and hiding them inside of comic books. “I’ll write the best book ever,” McEnroe told reporters, “an all-time classic, and it’ll be in my contract that Waldenbooks won’t be allowed to carry it!” The story, as much as there is one, is a blend of fantasy tropes, to-do lists, and speculation about the sex lives of McEnroe’s high school teachers.

Shaquille O’Neal

Goodnight, Soon

This unlicensed prequel to Goodnight, Moon got Shaq in a whole heap of legal trouble upon it’s initial release, but the sheer oddity of the book (as well and its scarcity, most copies were ordered burned as a result of the lawsuit) has made it a cult hit. Goodnight, Soon features all the same illustrations as the original, only with the words ‘Soon it will be time to say…’ written before the original text on each page. In an interview with Vanity Fair in 2011, Shaq explained that the inspiration for the project came from his lifelong curiosity about what people do while getting ready for bed.