Howard Beck. Marc Stein. Jonathan Abrams. Chris Broussard. Ira Berkow. George Vecsey. Mike Wise. Selena Roberts. Lee Jenkins. All have graced the pages of The New York Times, entertaining readers with their probing coverage of the N.B.A.: a stage on which spectacular athletes perform against a backdrop of continuous social change. Now, their work and more is collected in a new volume, edited and annotated by Hall of Fame honoree Harvey Araton, tracing basketball’s sustained boom from Magic and Bird to the present.