In This Week’s SI: The Mavs, The Rangers’ Lefties Pitch Forever, The Life of A College Basketball Recruiter and More

Matchup Nightmare Dirk Nowitzki Takes Down the Lakers

The Debate Over Head Injuries in Sports Rages On

Lefty Relievers: The Men Who Pitch Forever

A Confluence of Strange Events Produces This Year’s Derby Winner

Meet the Cerebral Coach Who Saved the Lightning

Inside the Long and Lonely Grind of a College Basketball Recruiter

Jason Kidd leads the Mavericks’ fast break on the cover of the May 16 issue of Sports Illustrated, on newsstands today. It is the first cover for either Kidd or the Mavericks since the March 3, 2008, issue, when the cover story was Kidd’s midseason trade to Dallas. 

The Mavericks have emerged as the hottest team in the playoffs thanks in large part to Dirk Nowitzki—one of the toughest matchups the NBA has ever seen. At the end of every season, Nowitzki returns to a tiny gymnasium in the German village of Rattlesford and works with his mentor, 65-year-old Holger Geschwindner, to refine his game. One summer, they implemented the step-back jumper that Nowitzki used to devastating effect in Dallas’s sweep of Los Angeles.  Lakers veteran Joe Smith said (page 36): “I’ve never seen anyone else in my life take a shot like that. I don’t think anybody can block it.”  

Geschwindner, currently residing in Nowitzki’s upstairs guest room in Dallas, will not be going back to Germany anytime soon.  With a week of rest on the calendar, the two will have ample time to add another tool to his arsenal of basketball moves.

Follow Lee Jenkins on Twitter @SI_LeeJenkins. To read the full online version of It’s a Mav, Mav, Mav, Mav World, click here.

On the Tablets: Up-to-the-minute video highlights of the NBA playoffs.

Scorecard: Head Games – Ben Reiter (@SI_BenReiter)

When former NFL safety Dave Duerson took his life, he shot himself in the chest—and not the head—so his brain could be examined for medical research. Duerson was certain that his football career left him with an irreversible brain condition called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Last week, researchers at Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy confirmed Duerson’s beliefs. But since CTE cannot be tested for until after death, it cannot be proved that it plays a role in causing depression or other symptoms; there are other more likely and treatable causes of depression. And so the debate about the effect of contact sports on the human body continues (page 14).

To read the full online version of Head Games, click here.

The Men Who Pitch Forever – Ben Reiter (@SI_BenReiter)

In the last two off-seasons, Texas Rangers G.M. Jon Daniels has given contracts worth a combined $10 million to two men in their 40s, Darren Oliver and Arthur Rhodes. This seems like an odd strategy as baseball gets younger, but Oliver and Rhodes are both lefthanded pitchers, allowing them to sustain long careers and high value. For the past six seasons lefties have a .238 batting average against Oliver while they have hit .214 against Rhodes throughout his career. Says Oliver (page 54): “If you’re lefthanded and you’re breathing, you can pitch forever.”

To read the full online version of The Men Who Pitch Forever, click here.

On the Tablets: Video of Oliver’s role in a historic baseball event, plus Ben Reiter discusses his story and other MLB headlines in a Sports Illustrated audio podcast.


After riding 21–1 longshot Animal Kingdom to victory in the Kentucky Derby, jockey John Velazquez publicly promised to “take care” of fellow jockey Robby Albarado, who was originally slated to ride Animal Kingdom before a prerace injury kept him out. While a piece of Velazquez’s 10% winner’s share of $141,180 is nice, the disappointment for Albarado is still palpable. Recalling the conversation he had with trainer Graham Motion last Friday morning, Albarado says (page 44): “Graham said they were going to make a change. I took Friday off to get well for [Derby day], but I guess that backfired on me. It’s going to take some time to get over this. Very disappointing. I lost the mount on the winner of the Kentucky Derby.”

To read the full online version of Chance Meeting, click here.

On the Tablets: A multimedia look at the pageantry of Derby Week.


Mired in a deep funk after winning the Stanley Cup in 2004, the Tampa Bay Lightning is the surprise of this postseason thanks to the cerebral coaching of Guy

Boucher and his innovative 1–3–1 neutral zone trap. Starting goaltender Dwayne Roloson says Boucher’s coaching reminds him of another X’s-and-O’s innovator (page 48): Right after I got here [in a January trade], I would close my eyes when Guy was talking, and I would hear Jacques Lemaire [who popularized the neutral zone trap while leading the Devils to the Stanley Cup in 1994–95 and coached Roloson with the Minnesota Wild from 2001 to ’06]. The way Guy sees the game, thinks the game—he’s not afraid to do something that nobody’s ever done before, and Jacques was the same way.”

To read the full online version of The Brain That Saved Tampa Bay, click here.


If you’re a college basketball recruiter, your life is a series of long, lonely and often fruitless road trips. You miss your kids’ birthdays and Little League games
and recitals and are forever at the mercy of a high schooler who might have a tough time choosing what to order at Taco Bell, let alone where to spend the next few years of his life. But assistant coaches endure such trials for one important reason: A successful recruiting class gets them one step closer to being the one who calls the shots (page 60).

To read the full online version of Recruiter, click here.


To Seve Ballesteros, who died last Saturday from a brain tumor, golf was about making art and creating something unforgettable. Senior writer Joe Posnanski
  recalls a practice round during the 1997 Ryder Cup, where Ballesteros served as the European captain. Ian Woosnam’s ball was buried in the woods, with seemingly no way out—for anyone but Ballesteros, of course. Eyeing a tiny crack between the tree’s branches, he chipped out to safety. But that was Seve: He could see the opening others could not see. He could always find his way home (page 70).

To read the full online version of Spellbound by Seve, click here.

On the Tablets: A Leading Off slideshow extension of Seve Ballesteros’s memorable life.


• DaJuan Coleman (DeWitt, N.Y.) – Basketball                          • Cheryl Murphy (Jamaica, N.Y.) – Karate

• Morgann LeLeux (New Iberia, La.) – Track and Field              • Bob (Hap) Hazzard, Phil Kerr, Bill Reeve and Hans

• Chrys Jones (Harrodsburg, Ky.) – Track and Field                   Wendel (Southeast and Central Maine) – Swimming

Follow Faces in the Crowd on Twitter @SI_Faces.



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  • SI Digital Bonus: The Greatest Rap Session in Baseball History – In this Peter Gammons piece from April 14, 1986, Wade Boggs, Ted Williams and Don Mattingly rendezvous to talk about what else? Hitting.
  • Off the Record – This week’s top moments in sports video: LeBron ditching Space Jam, an inspiring first pitch, a tumble from a snowmobile and Rafael Nadal at his best.


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