ALI: A Life BY JONATHAN EIG
For the generations that knew Muhammad Ali only in his later years and wondered what made him the Greatest, Eig's biography will provide that answer and much more. This book is not short—640 pages—but it also never drags. There have been countless tomes about the iconic fighter, of course, but Eig's is the definitive work to date.
THE STREAK: Lou Gehrig, Cal Ripken Jr., and Baseball's Most Historic Record BY JOHN EISENBERG
Aside from the title's slight to Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, this book, weaving together two gripping stories, reveals so much about Gehrig, Ripken and baseball.
GAME CHANGE: The Life and Death of Steve Montador and the Future of Hockey BY KEN DRYDEN
Dryden, a Hall of Famer and best-selling author, tells the story of an NHL defenseman who died at age 35 in 2015 with CTE, and suggests ways to fix the sport.
BATTLE OF THE SEXES starring Emma Stone, Steve Carell. Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
The story of the upstart WTA and its fight for gender equality in the 1970s—centered on the epic '73 match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs—has just as much relevance today.
TOUR DE PHARMACY starring Andy Samberg, Orlando Bloom. Directed by Jake Szymanski
A ridiculously star-studded cast joins Samberg in HBO's latest foray into sports mockumentary (7 Days in Hell), spoofing the widespread doping culture in pro cycling.
SOMETHING TO WRESTLE
Hosted by Bruce Pritchard, a longtime pro wrestling producer, and Conrad Thompson, an Alabama mortgage broker, each show examines a figure or time period from pro wrestling in great depth, with stories from an insider with historical perspective. The three-hour, nine-minute episode on the late "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, one of the sport's most charismatic stars, was a highlight.
PARDON MY TAKE
Last year's top pick in the category, Barstool Sports staffer Dan Katz and PFT Commenter continue to entertain with a loud and irreverent show that's grittier than Marshall Faulk.
30 FOR 30
ESPN's longform narrative podcast, which debuted this year, is audio storytelling at its highest level. Two episodes stood out: "The Trials of Dan and Dave" (on the 1992 Reebok campaign of decathletes Dan O'Brien and Dave Johnson) and "A Queen of Sorts" (on poker star Phil Ivey and "Kelly" Cheung Yin Sun's scheme to beat the house).
ICARUS Directed by Bryan Fogel
If you're at all familiar with the current events surrounding Russia's doping program, the revelations won't be shocking. But the film soars in portraying the Sisyphean challenge of fighting for truth against a power that can create its own.
DISGRACED Directed by Pat Kondelis
Even those who remember the scandal around the 2003 murder of Baylor basketball player Patrick Dennehy will be disgusted anew by the coach then, Dave Bliss, who gallingly used the death to cover up his own NCAA violations.
WHAT CARTER LOST Directed by Adam Hootnick
Retelling the story of the 1988 Carter High Cowboys, best known as the juggernaut from Friday Night Lights, the doc explores the fraught racial, social and educational dynamics of Texas football.