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ESPN The Magazine 05.26.14

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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the league of extraordinary buffaloes

At Colorado’s spring game on April 12, fifth-year senior Nick Shearon (aka Buff Man, second from left) soaked up his final hours of leading cheers as an undergrad. “I may wear the suit to graduation,” says the mechanical engineering major from Denver. Either way, it’s been a good run. Despite growing up in a family of Michigan grads, Shearon fell hard for Ralphie—as well as fiancée Courtney Benejam (aka Buff Girl, far left)—and started this motley crew, channeling his inner engineer to build Buff Man (based on Halo’s Master Chief) in 2011. Since arriving at CU, Shearon hasn’t missed a men’s home hoops game; he even helped cut down the nets at the 2012 Pac-12 tourney. “Of all my moments as Buff Man, that sticks out the most.” HOW TO BECOME…

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[ out with the old ]

Now that NBA Nation has recognized that Donald Sterling is, to use a Bill James phrase, the north end of a southbound brontosaurus, the fun can begin. The league will need to find new owners who can transform the Clippers from scurrilous bottom-feeders to a community franchise worthy of its fans. It’s a huge opportunity, and the forthcoming christening reflects the evolving nature of NBA ownership. Five years ago, when The Mag’ Ultimate Standings called the Clippers the worst team in pro sports, the NBA had more than its share of basket-case franchises: Seven of the bottom 14 clubs in our rankings belonged to the NBA. The Clippers, Knicks, Kings, Timberwolves, Nets, Bucks and Warriors—these were teams for which “organization” was too kind a descriptor. They did make their owners rich…

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WHO Mike Taylor, Nike Golf’s master model maker WHAT Shaping Tiger Woods’ iron with a grinding wheel WHEN April 3, 11:49 a.m. CT WHERE “The Oven,” Nike Golf’s Research and Development center, Fort Worth, Texas When creating clubs for Tiger Woods, every detail counts. Mike Taylor, whose craftsmanship has graced the bags of Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan, will spend countless spark-filled hours at the grinding wheel to shape and fine-tune Tiger’s irons. “I can modify a club so players can hit certain shots in certain conditions on any course,” says Taylor. But the wheel is just one step of an exhaustive process at Nike. The workers at the Oven use military-grade shot-tracking software and 3-D prototyping for every custom job. It’s hard work, but Taylor never sees it that way: “I’m just the guy who makes tools.” —MATT…

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WHO Jason Grilli, Pirates closer WHAT Perfecting the Grilli Cheese sandwich WHEN April 15, 9:50 a.m. ET WHERE Tom+Chee, Cincinnati “Today I was at Tom+Chee, a grilled cheese and tomato soup franchise founded in Cincinnati, making and flipping their new Grilli Cheese sandwich. The president contacted me through Facebook because he’s a big Pirates fan, and he knew my Twitter handle, @GrillCheese49. The nickname was originally my dad’s when he played for the Tigers, and now people know me by that. The owner gave me equity in the company, and they’re looking to open up a store in Pittsburgh this summer. I mean, who doesn’t love a grilled cheese? To me, it’s comfort food.”—JASON GRILLI, as told to Stacey Pressman Ingredients for the Grilli Cheese Sourdough bread, mascarpone cheese, fresh mozzarella, Roma plum tomato, fresh spinach, fresh basil, balsamic vinaigrette…

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the nil of victory

Heading into the World Cup, most of the focus has been on the tournament’s large group of elite goal scorers: Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar, Suarez. All told, 14 goal mongers expected at this year’s Cup scored at least eight times in qualifying—and that doesn’t include the best from Brazil, which qualified automatically as host. But history shows it’s the team with the stingiest defense that hoists the trophy. Of the past five champions, all but one had the best goals-against average among the quarterfinalists. (Brazil was second to runner-up Germany in 2002.) So when teams report to World Cup camps this month, defenders must ready themselves for players the likes of whom they rarely face in their leagues. By finding a teammate who can mimic—at least to a limited capacity—the movements and…

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former u.s. open champ sam stosur, 30, on how she heeds the call to arms.

“Ladies in the gym will say, ‘Sheesh! How do you get those arms?’ There’s no secret. I don’t spend much time lifting weights. And I never do biceps curls. But I’ve hit millions and millions of tennis balls in my lifetime. When I do go to the gym, it’s for a head-to-toe workout. I arch my back when I serve, which puts strain on my core. So I make sure to stretch and strengthen my back and stomach muscles. I’ll do push presses, dumbbell flies and seated rows for the rotator cuff and the little muscles inside my shoulders. But I’m not there all day. My gym workouts don’t last more than an hour. The hardest part is coming up with new exercises so that I don’t get bored. I…