The Capital of Basketball:

A History of DC Area High
School Hoops

By John McNamara,
Andrea Chamblee, and David Elfin

Forward by Coach Gary Williams

As reviewed by

About the Book

The celebration of Washington, DC basketball is long overdue. The DC metro area stands second to none in its contributions to the game. Countless figures who have had a significant impact on the sport over the years have roots in the region, including E.B. Henderson, the first African American certified to teach public school physical education, and Earl Lloyd, the first African American to take the court in an actual NBA game. The city’s Spingarn High School produced two players – Elgin Baylor and Dave Bing – recognized among the NBA’s 50 greatest at the League’s 50th anniversary celebration. No other high school in the country can make that claim.


These figures and many others are chronicled in this book, the first-ever comprehensive look at the great high school players, teams, and coaches in the DC metro area.


Based on more than 150 interviews, The Capital of Basketball is first and foremost a book about basketball. But in discussing the trends and evolution of the game, McNamara also uncovers the turmoil in the lives of the players and area residents as they dealt with prejudice, educational inequities, politics, and the ways the area has changed through the years.



About the Authors:

John McNamara spent the last 14 years of his life writing this book. Andrea Chamblee, his wife of 33 years and David Elfin, a co-worker over the same time, helped finish it after his murder at the Annapolis Capital on June 28th 2018, along with four other colleagues: Wendy Winters, Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, and Rebecca Smith.

John McNamara


John was a staff writer for the Annapolis Capital newspaper. He earned a degree in Journalism from the University of Maryland and spent over 30 years covering local, college, and professional sports. He won several awards from the Maryland-DC-Delaware Press Association for his writing. McNamara was one of five employees of the Annapolis Capital who were gunned down in a mass shooting at the newspaper on June 28, 2018. He was 56 years old.

Andrea Chamblee


Andrea, John McNamara’s widow, covered high school basketball for her community paper and attended more than 500 college and high school games in the D.C. metro area often with her husband, the best play by play man she ever met. She has barked from the stands for a switch from zone to back to man-to-man, much to his dismay.

David Elfin

(@David Elfin)

David, who has called D.C. home since 1965, has covered local sports for most of the last four decades while writing seven books on Washington sports and serving on the D.C. Sports Hall of Fame selection committee.

Editorial Reviews

The finished product is a great basketball book, filled with details of big games, powerful high school basketball programs and insightful stories about the top players and coaches who, at least at one time, called Washington home. The chronicle begins in 1900, when a local newspaper first mentioned a high school basketball game, and continues through the 1990s, when DeMatha High School was dominant.

- New York Times

The Capital of Basketball provides important details on players and coaches that made Washington D.C. famous…those of us at Duke and around the country know a trip to D.C. during basketball season is a chance to see some of the country’s best talent on the court.

- Mike Krzyzewski

Men's Basketball Head Coach,
Duke University

The Capital of Basketball highlights [the DC area’s] impact on the area and many other key moments, players, games, and coaches in Washington, DC’s storied high school basketball history.

- James Brown

Host of "The NFL Today" on CBS

It’s a story of civil rights heroes and NBA legends. It’s [more than 300] pages of history few others could have accomplished, but John, who was born in Washington and never left the area, dedicated his life to it.

- Washington Post

In The Capital of Basketball, John McNamara has crafted fascinating and revealing insights into a pivotal time in the history of basketball and the city of Washington. John’s reporting was always first-rate. No one saw the game like he did…this is a must read for anyone who wants to know about the game of basketball.

- Morgan Wootten

Basketball Coach,
DeMatha Catholic High School

News and Articles

Catch the interview with local legend James Brown!

Catch the interview with local legend James Brown!

Local high school player turned sportscaster, mentor, and national TV star James Brown remains friendly, humble, and fascinating. He sat down to talk to me about sports, journalism, and the role of the DC Metro area in the history of sports. Interview with James Brown

Now in Paperback!

Now in Paperback!

The Capital of Basketball is now out in paperback! Get yours here! Use GiftCode TGUF for 30% off!

The Capital of Basketball for everyone on your holiday list

The Capital of Basketball for everyone on your holiday list

Whether you’re shopping for fans of sports, history, education, or just good writing, The Capital of Basketball needs to be on your shopping list. Order The Capital of Basketball now! Signing events are on hold for the public health crisis, but you can still order your copy now. Buy it, read it, and bring it […]