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ESPN The Magazine 05.11.15

ESPN The Magazine is for the NEXT generation of sports fans who want to stay on top of the athletes, teams, topics and upcoming events in their own sports world. The Magazine celebrates not only sports, but the cultures and lifestyles that are an integral part of them - all with ESPN's unique personality and authority.

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access_time3 min.
overpaid college coaches

KIRK FERENTZ, $3.7M Iowa fans are rolling their eyes. Sure, Ferentz (above) makes only about half of Alabama coach Nick Saban’s $7.2 million salary, but his contract is still one of the worst handcuffs in college football. If not for a buyout that once approached $20 million, Ferentz likely would have been long gone. Instead, due to an unheard-of 10-year deal he signed after going 11–2 in ’09, Iowa still pays top-10 money for a coach who has gone 34–30 over the past five years. KEVIN SUMLIN, $5M After three seasons, Sumlin admits that the next few years will be a defining time in his tenure at Texas A& . A year ago, his salary was bumped by $2 million when A&M feared losing him to USC or the NFL, and even Steve…

access_time3 min.
most valuable rabbit

It was a big deal when ESPN acquired the rights to Monday Night Football in 2005. Because MNF was history’s longest-running prime-time series, the conservative approach would have been to leave the program alone. But our production team wanted to put our stamp on it. So for the first time, MNF was covered on all media across all ESPN platforms, and the television audience soared to the point where our Week 7 regular-season broadcast between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys (Oct. 23, 2006) set the record for the largest audience in the history of cable television at the time. Problem was, when we gained Monday Night Football but lost Sunday Night Football, all of a sudden we had two very gifted talent and production teams but only one…

access_time1 min.

Officer Gronk, reporting for duty! During an offseason for the ages, Rob Gronkowski hasn’t exactly avoided the spotlight, celebrating the Pats’ Super Bowl win at concerts, watering holes and sporting events across the country. Here on set, the lights are still bright, but the 25-year-old football star is just a role player, portraying Weadon, a plainclothes detective dispatched to a rowdy bar. Gronk admits that this part requires a flip from his typical script; normally he’d be on top of the bar, shirtless and twerking. “It’s cool to be the cop going in this time,” he says. “When it happens in real life, I’ll know how to play it off.” Way to stay in character, Gronk. WHO Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and brother Dan, scuffling with actors WHAT Filming a bar-fight scene for…

access_time5 min.
how do we spell mvp? s-t-e-p-h

Naming the league’s MVP was never all that hard. It was the guy who scored a bajillion points, like Allen Iverson in 2000-01. Or the one whose overall stats were unimpeachable, like Kevin Garnett in ’03-04. Or simply the world’s best player, like LeBron James in ’09-10 ... ’11-12 ... and ’12-13. Then this season happened, with an MVP race so crowded it’s like the stage at an Iowa primary debate. There was Anthony Davis, the big man with the guard’s fluidity. Chris Paul, overcoming the 15-game loss of the NBA’s best 4. Russell Westbrook, proving that a high-usage iso player can still dominate. James Harden, exploiting a glitch in the NBA matrix that lets him travel without “traveling.” Stephen Curry, redefining the art of playmaking. And LeBron, offering a…

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cold hard facts

30.8 ANTHONY DAVIS 2014-15 PER for Davis, tops in the NBA and the 11th-highest mark in history. 20 LEBRON JAMES Win increase for the ’14-15 Cavs. LeBron’s former team, the Heat, won 17 fewer games and missed the playoffs. 12.9 CHRIS PAUL Offensive win shares contributed by CP3 to the Clippers in ’14-15, the league’s highest. 4 RUSSELL WESTBROOK Players to top 28 ppg, 7 rpg and 8 apg in a season: Oscar, Michael, LeBron and Russ. 715 JAMES HARDEN Free throws made by Harden this year, 61 more than any other player attempted. 286 STEPHEN CURRY Number of 3s Curry hit this season, breaking his own record from 2012-13.…

access_time2 min.
bringing the bash

44.6% Opponent FG% on shots within 6 feet of the rim with Bogut on the floor. Opponents’ typical rate: 59.4 percent. 31.1 Three-point attempts per 48 minutes that Golden State takes when Bogut is in the game. When he’s on the bench, that number drops to 24.2 attempts. 28.3% Percentage of shots opponents take within 5 feet of the rim when Bogut is in. With Bogut out: 35.3 percent. 56.3% The Warriors’ effective FG%, which accounts for both 2s and 3s, with Bogut on the court. That’s 4 percentage points higher than when he’s a spectator. 16.6 NET RATING The Warriors’ net rating (offensive rating minus defensive rating) when Bogut is on the floor. That’s more than double what it is when he’s on the bench and is the top mark among NBA centers this season. 5.83 Bogut’s defensive real plus-minus, No.…