With the NBA and NHL playoffs in full steam, daily baseball games and much more in the world of sports, there’s a chance you couldn’t get to all of the great content on SI.com this week. Inside SI has you covered. Here’s a selection of some of the top Sports Illustrated stories and video productions from the past week.
SI announced 10 finalists for its inaugural College Athlete of the Year.
Richard Deitsch reviews Fox Sports 1’s new big hires and more in his weekly Media Circus column.
Jeff Pearlman reminisces about the USFL 30 years later
Ian Thompson says Steph Curry is the latest to establish himself as a star in the playoffs.
Lee Jenkins writes that Kevin Durant can only do so much for OKC.
Rob Mahoney lists five players who have disappointed in the playoffs so far. He also notes the biggest surprises of the playoffs so far.
Do the NBA Playoffs Underdogs stand a chance? Chris Mannix and Maggie Gray discuss the Warriors and Bulls (video).
Mannix discusses how the injuries of Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Amar’e Stoudemire have affected their respective teams (video).
Sara Kwak says the Isles vs. Penguins has been the most thrilling series so far.
Allan Muir says the Senators showed their superiority over the shorthanded Habs.
While this week’s SI cover man Sidney Crosby worked his magic in the Penguins’ Game 5 Win, Eli Bernstein says the play of both goalies proved to be the difference.
Stu Hackel on how the NHL may change their policy on head shots.
Tom Verducci says expensive free agents are once again failing to meet expectations.
Jay Jaffe says Matt Harvey is fastest-starting Mets ace ever.
Cliff Cocoran provides this week’s Awards Watch.
SI.com’s Tom Verducci takes a look at the increasing strikeout rate around the MLB and asks if the Braves’ power can overcome their swing-and-miss ways (video).
The Tigers top Joe Lemire’s power rankings.
Peter King notes differing draft strategies, who will control the ’14 draft and more in this week’s MMQB.
Jim Trotter writes on how the California workers comp bill will have a lasting effect on NFL players.
Don Banks asks if betters days are coming for minority hires in the NFL?
Chris Burke on each team’s most pressing question as minicamp looms.
Micahael Bamberger writes that TV saved Tiger Woods from withdrawing from the Masters.
Gary Van Sickle says McIlroy, Stricker and Scott make TPC Sawgrass look easy
Andy Staples takes a stab at his post spring top 25.
Holly Anderson hands out her Sixth annual Switzies, which celebrate the ‘best’ of the 2013 offseason.
Stewart Mandel on how Ohio State aims to break the SEC’s title streak in 2013.
Rick Pitino talks Kentucky Derby, Final Four and 2013-14′s prospects in a Q&A with Pete Thamel.
Luke Winn gives out his second annual data-based hoops awards.
Bruce Jenkins writes that Madrid red clay is a welcome sight after 2012 left all feeling blue
In his weekly mailbag, Jon Wertheim wonders if Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens can find peace.
Grant Wahl provides updates on Alex Morgan, Frank Lampard and various MLS nuggets in his Planet Futbol Column.
Jonathan Wilsion says David Moyes is a safe choice for Manchester United, but comes with risk.
Sid Lowe writes that Jose Mourinho’s separation from Real Madrid getting messy.
Floyd Mayweather tops Chris Mannix’s Pound-For-Pound Top 15.
Floyd Mayweather talks about his title fight victory over Robert Guerrero, and looks ahead towards the rest of his multi-fight contract (video).
Jeff Wagenheim discusses Anderson Silva’s punishment, Johny Hendricks’ beard, and more in his MMA mailbag.
Lars Anderson on what we learned on a rainy, dark day at Talladega.
Carl Estes provides this week’s power rankings.
“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black and I’m gay,” begins Jason Collins the 7-foot, 12-year NBA veteran who sat down with Sports Illustrated contributor Franz Lidz and Executive Editor L. Jon Wertheim to openly discuss his sexuality and why he is now making it public. Collins’s exclusive story is part of a Sports Illustrated cross-platform editorial package on the gay athlete. The issue hits newsstands this week and Collins’ poignant thoughts can be found here now on SI.com.
Collins’s essay takes us through his decision as well as reaction from family members and close friends. “I realized I needed to go public when Massachusetts congressman Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford, told me he had just marched in Boston’s 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I’m seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy,” Collins explains. “I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, “me, too.”
Also from the piece: “The strain of hiding my sexuality became almost unbearable in March, when the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments for and against same-sex marriage. Less than three miles from my apartment, nine jurists argued about my happiness and my future. Here was my chance to be heard and I couldn’t say a thing. I didn’t want to answer questions and draw attention to myself. Not while I was still playing.”
Collins’s decision to go public causes his family trepidation. “My maternal grandmother was apprehensive about my plans to come out publicly,” he says. “She grew up in rural Louisiana and witnessed the horrors of segregation. During the civil rights movement she saw great bravery play out amid the ugliest side of humanity. She worries that I am opening myself u up to prejudice and hatred. I explained to her that in a way, my coming out is preemptive. I shouldn’t have to live under the threat of being outed. The announcement should be mine to make, not TMZ’s.”
Also included in this package will be:
- First person reaction from Jarron Collins – Jason’s twin brother and former NBA player
- “Inside the Room” from Executive Editor, Jon Wertheim
- Editor’s Letter from SI Managing Editor Chris Stone – How this piece came together.
- Agent Arm Tellem on his inspiring client.
The Sports Illustrated cover has a legacy of leading ground-breaking conversations in sports including: a 1982 interview with Don Reese, the former NFL defensive lineman, who discussed the proliferation of cocaine in the NFL; SI’s 2002 cover calling LeBron James, “The Chosen One,” which is seen as his arrival on the national stage; a 2002 interview with NL MVP Ken Caminiti discussing steroids in Major League Baseball; Michael Phelps displaying his eight Gold Medals from the 2008 Beijing games; and the 2010 confession of former sports agent Josh Luchs discussing paying players during his 20+ year career.
As college basketball enters the pinnacle of its season and the madness of March begins to ensue, fans and media alike commonly reminisce on tournaments of the past, memorable games and players both loved and hated. One of these players is Benny Anders, also appropriately known as the Outlaw, the eccentric swingman of the famed University of Houston Phi Slamma Jamma era. In this week’s issue, senior writer Jon Wertheim attempts to answer the annual question of what happened to Benny Anders?
On the court Anders embodied sheer athleticism with his ferocious dunks, however his playing style was riddled with overtly selfish and over the top behavior. So while players like Clyde Drexler and Akeem Olajuwon bloomed in the light of Houston’s basketball program and in the NBA thereafter, Anders was dismissed from the Houston basketball team following an altercation with another student that ended in Anders being arrested for possession of a firearm on school property.
Wertheim found that Anders then fell off the map after brief stints of professional basketball in South America and the Philippines.,. And despite being armed with Google and even a private investigator, Wertheim’s continual trail on Anders always seemed to run cold. No listed residential address, no criminal record, no connection to former teammates, nothing. A record showing a Benny Anders as employed in Flint, Michigan in the late 90’s seemed to be the only proof of his existence at all, and even that was riddled with holes.
After a disappointing trip through Anders hometown of Bernice, Arkansas, some brash words from a distant relative, and even more wasted research, Wertheim came across a mention of Anders and his family in an old newspaper. The brief article noted Anders and his “father” truly originating from Flint, Michigan. With several leads pointing towards Flint and a suspicious phone conversation with an unidentified woman nipping at his conscious, Wertheim headed to Flint with the hopes of ending the Benny Anders mystery. But after failing to receive any contact with the residence of the suspected Anders household and finding no confirmed sighting of the allusive character, Wertheim found himself coming to terms with the fact that no amount of journalistic skills or resources were going to help him solve this mystery. Some people just don’t want to be found, and that’s ok.
Other journalists and authors can keep on searching, but Wertheim considers the frozen in time portrait of Benny Anders dunking on Charles Jones of Louisville during a final four game to be the ideal way to remember him. Maybe it is better to let Benny Anders slip away into obscurity than taint his memory with the present.
“As it stands, Benny exists as a series of brazen quotes, a flash of pink cummerbund, and astounding dunks, one in a pivotal game—a fleeting vision of athletic perfection and personal cult,” explains Wertheim (PAGE 78).
In this week’s Sports Illustrated, “The Power 50 List” ranks the top 50 men and women who occupy the thrones in the sports landscape. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell earned the top spot on the list and sits atop a thrown on this week’s SI cover, drawing on a parallel to the popular HBO show “Game of Thrones.”
View Steve Rushin’s opening essay “The Kingdoms of Sport,” and the entire Power 50 list here.
SI’s team of L. Jon Wertheim (SI Executive Editor), Adam Duerson (SI Senior Editor and project editor for this package) and Richard Deitsch (SI writer/reporter and SI.com Senior Editor) sat down with us to discuss the process of putting together such an extensive list.
How do you even start a project like this?
RD: We sent notice that we were going to do this package to every editor and writer who works on specific beats at both the magazine and SI.com. They weighed in with their thoughts on who should belong on such a list and why. That was the initial batch of information we used.JW: We started months ago. Part of the challenge was defining power, especially in a sports context. We tinkered with a sabermatric or algorithm-type formula….but realized that was not realistic. So we polled our colleagues, talked to experts outside the company and came up with informed opinion from great debate.
AD: The process speaks to the whole idea of why you make lists. Nobody will come to a consensus on any sort of list like this, but it sparks smart debate. We struggled throughout the entire process, but had a lot of fun with it.
AD: Steve Rushin’s piece which opens the power package does a great job of defining what we meant by power. It’s why we use the “Game of Thrones” analogy because the show is all about different interpretations of power. Ten different people can think they have power at the same time. Power is in the eye of the beholder. All of the people on this list can change the sports landscape with a single decision. Money, titles, properties, etc. all weigh into it.
JW: It’s programming decisions, acquisitions, player signings, and success. President Obama even made the list. His comment on not wanting the sons he doesn’t have to play football due to his concerns over safety is very powerful. People listen when the President talks and he spoke on the future and safety of our country’s most popular sport.
How does one attain power in sports?
RD: Some inherit it. Some develop it from their brain power, hard work and innovation. Everyone’s power originates from a different type of source. For instance, Roger Goodell started as a lawyer and climbed the ranks at the NFL. Michael Jordan became powerful from his athletic greatness. Everyone on this list has a different story.
AD: These origins of power can continue this parallel to the “Games of Thrones” world, where you have a child (King Joffrey Baratheon) as the king, a woodsmen who rose to leadership and a knight who wins power on the battlefield (like athletes).
What type of position is most represented on the list?
RD: Heads of leagues are very prominent on this list, whether it’s commissioners of the major sports leagues or those that run NCAA conferences. And we are ascribing a lot of power to television and media.
Why are leaders in media so well represented on this list?
RD: The people who control the airwaves in this country have massive power. Take John Skipper at ESPN. He and his team can control the sports dialogue on any given day. What ESPN decides to put on their network just has so much resonance among the sports world. All his counterparts at the other networks—Mark Lazarus at NBC, Sean McManus at CBS, Eric Shanks at Fox—these guys are the gatekeepers to how we view sports in America. Their power is immeasurable.
Why is Roger Goodell number one?
AD: He’s the leader of the most popular sport in America and he demonstrates his power on a daily basis. Everyone knows he’s in charge.
JW: He’s also leading the NFL at a pivotal moment. The sport has never been more popular—revenues are at an all-time high, but there’s now this concussion issue hanging over the league that could jeopardize its future.
What surprised you about this year’s power list?
AD: We found it difficult to incorporate athletes amongst the executives. That’s why we did a separate top 10 list solely devoted to athletes. It isn’t to say that some or all of them wouldn’t fit into the top 50 either.
RD: What surprised me during the process of putting this together is how everyone’s definition of power is so vastly different. Had another media outlet worked on the same type of list, it would be different. This sort of project sparks debate since it’s not an exact science.
JW: Something that surprised me a bit was how much power the commissioner’s of NCAA conferences now have relative to the NCAA. Realignment, conference TV networks and contracts have completely changed the landscape.
How do you guys see this power list changing next year?
AD: If we do this list again next year, there could be over 20 new names. It’s a snapshot of who has the most power now.
JW: You have leaders that will change positions and some will simply lose power. For instance, Philip Anschutz aims to sell all of his properties soon. David Stern will be retired, as will Jacques Rogge. Then there’s NCCA President Mark Emmert. He holds a lot of power today, but people are calling for his head due to the controversial University of Miami investigation.
RD: The only thing that we can predict surely is that the list next year will change.
Visit SI.com/power throughout this week for the complete Power 50 list, new daily power lists, a ranking of the least powerful people in sports and an exclusive podcast with “A Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin. Click here to view a Q&A with the editors behind the Power 50 list.
Enter the Australian Open or the Uninhibited Open. With sombreros, body paint, costumes, flags and beer galore, one would think they had found themselves in the middle of a college football tailgate. However, this is grand slam tennis down under. In this week’s Sports Illustrated, senior writer L. Jon Wertheim explores the culture of the Australian Open and its stark contrast to how its northern hemisphere partners entertain its patrons. Somewhere between the Wimbledon garden party, the fashion forward French Open and the bustling U.S open, Aussies mom-and-pop tournament had transformed itself into a global party.
Tournament Director Craig Tiley says:
“Look, go have a good time…Buy yourself a drink, sit out on a [public] beanbag. You want to shout for a player? Shout. You’re hot? Go stand in the mister (PAGE 58 ).”
Fanatical fans and cooperate sponsors are all welcome in the blistering heat of a Melbourne summer. It is here that all tennis stereotypes are broken—the Australian Open has embodied its countrymen’s culture and has successfully brought together the game of tennis and the people who love it most.