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ESPN The Magazine 06.23.14

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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espn’s fan hall of fame class of 2013

Pierce Wallace never dreamed a green wig would be his ticket into ESPN’s Fan Hall of Fame. “I found it in a closet and thought, Might as well take this to college,” says the 19-year-old business marketing major, whose impromptu Heath Ledger tribute turned into a staple at UGa’s Sanford Stadium. The Valdosta, Ga., native was in the front row of the student section at every home game, ringing in kickoffs with the Joker’s signature “And here … we … go.” He beat out thousands of superfan entries for a spot in our second annual HOF class, joining two others: Canaan Sandy, an Arkansas diehard (who got a surprise visit from Big Red), and Barbara Rust, the Sacramento Kings’ “sign lady,” who was unable to attend the induction ceremony. HOW TO…

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lost and found

I’m an NBA dinosaur. My religious following started in 1981, when the 3-point shot was just 2 years old and teams considered it a last resort, not a primary tactic. Offense was built from the inside, which opened up the outside shot, not the other way around. That was especially true in the playoffs, when referees rewarded an attacking offense with free throws and let aggressive defenses dictate: A regular-season 15-footer became a playoff 18-footer. The analytics say those days are dead. They say the 3 is the key. On a team with Larry Bird and Danny Ainge, the champion 1983-84 Celtics attempted 229 3-pointers. This season Kevin Durant attempted 491 3s by himself. The game resembles a long-distance shooting contest. Yet when the trophies are raised, the winning formula is…

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no tanks

After stumbling around like D-League squads for the last two months of the regular season, all the NBA teams that tanked for lottery picks will finally gather in Brooklyn on June 26 … and watch Cleveland select the player they really wanted. Which just goes to show, when it comes to the subject of tanking, supposedly sophisticated opinion has raced far ahead of actual facts. Many smart people insist noncontenders need to blow themselves to bits, hoard draftees and rebuild from scratch. But the numbers show that tanking doesn’t work. And it’s making too many games unwatchable. Many GMs fixate on making their teams worse to get better—because the Spurs famously did that, wallowing in the standings before drafting Tim Duncan in 1997. But since the NBA launched the draft lottery…

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When Jurgen Klinsmann was hired to revamp U.S. soccer from soup to nuts in 2011, the new coach’s old-school, you-are-what-you-eat approach to nutrition fell on deaf ears at first. “Early on, all I heard was blah-blah-blah,” says striker Jozy Altidore. “Now I know how you eat plays a huge part in how you perform.” So while Altidore is hoping to feast on goals at the World Cup, team nutritionist Danielle LaFata—who’ll lay out this spread after each of the U.S. team’s three first-round games—could be just as important to the Yanks’ chances of surviving the Group of Death in Brazil. —DOUG MCINTYRE 4 Number of meals the team eats on match days. “Each has a little lean protein, some carbs and healthy fats like avocado or olives, with fruits and vegetables mixed in,”…

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zo om

WHO Danish pro boxer Patrick Nielsen (near right) and Russian pro boxer Dmitry Chudinov WHAT Interim WBA world middleweight title fight WHEN June 2, 12:19 a.m. WHERE Mytishchi Arena, Mytishchi, Russia Well, that’s just plain eerie. In one corner of this WBA world middleweight title bout, there was undefeated champ Dmitry Chudinov, known as the Night Wolf. In the other corner, there was challenger Patrick Nielsen, whose tattooed upper back and neck just happened to match the fang-styled mouthguard of his opponent. The fight, part of the Russian show Golden Gloves 2: Black Energy, was won by Chudinov in a decision. And do you want to guess which legend was watching ringside? Evander Holyfield, of course. Now, that’s just plain eareey. —ANNA KATHERINE CLEMMONS…

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hit 'em where they ain’t

For much of the first 120 years of baseball, infielders treated nearly every batter the same, playing him straight up, ignoring whatever tendencies he might have to pull the ball. Then eight years ago, the Rays shifted the shortstop to the right side of the diamond when David Ortiz dug in. Now, employing advanced metrics that track every batted ball, every team uses the shift. “It’s kind of like the IRS finding different ways to find dollars,” says Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, whose club shifts more than most and ended a 20-year playoff drought last season. The shift mainly affects left-handed pull hitters like Ortiz, who often must feel like a taxpayer receiving an audit letter. But now some batters are fighting back as if their jobs depend on it.…