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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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balance beaming

What was the vision when it came to shooting Simone? First and foremost, we wanted to celebrate Simone’s power, strength and talent. We decided to use really bold colors to help convey her immense natural energy. Did the vision come to life? It ended up being a fantastic shoot. All the pieces came together. We only had a few days to organize and set up everything before shooting Simone in a Houston studio. We had to rush in props, like the balance beam, as well as find a prop stylist, hair stylist, makeup artist and wardrobe stylist. The day of the shoot, it all worked out. What was the most unexpected part of the shoot? For the last setup, we used colored powders and had the stylists, writer and a couple assistants throw them up…

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a brief history of total domination

Dominance is challenging—and fun—to measure because it doesn’t mean “above average” or “value over replacement level.” Dominance means “better than the very best.” I figured out a way to rate all-time rivals across sports on one scale for The Mag’s 20th anniversary this past spring, and the greatest athletes of 2018 are even more eye-popping given some historical context: At her current pace, Simone Biles is within three years of joining Tiger Woods and LeBron James as the most dominant athletes of the past two decades. Three years! Then there’s Daniel Cormier. He was the only athlete other than Biles whose year was the most dominant in his or her sport since 1998. And when it comes to fifth-ranked Katie Ledecky, her 2018 rating includes multiple events. By itself, her best time…

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the truth

When LeBron James returned to Cleveland in November wearing a visitors jersey for the second homecoming of his career, the narrative was ostensibly one of reconciliation. It was of a mission accomplished, a hungry fan base reconsidered, having turned on him once but now appreciative of what he has done on the court, amplified by the unimpeachable good works he’s done off of it. Invariably, discussion of him concluded with a question intended to be teasing but which in actuality was insulting: What will be LeBron’s legacy? Think for a moment not about James but the other primary actors in this drama, what they’ve accomplished and how they’ve conducted themselves, and the insult of focusing on James becomes obvious. Think about the Cavaliers, a moribund franchise that without LeBron has never…

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1. good juju

ESPN: You joked on Instagram that people are always telling you to focus on football. SMITH-SCHUSTER: Always. They’re always saying, “Stop playing video games. Go to bed early.” I get those, man, but YOLO. … A lot of guys who are top players say, “You have to wake up at 6 a.m. You have to go to bed at 9 p.m. You have to read this.” Don’t get me wrong. Those guys are amazing. But I’m young. Like, it’s fine to go out and have fun and be yourself and then boom, show up on game day and ball out. Don’t miss Patriots-Steelers on Dec. 16 (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS). All Big Ticket stats through Dec. 2.…

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2. games of the weak

NBA Hawks at Knicks (Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m. ET, MSG) Do they stink? Yep. But do they top the NBA in bench minutes per game? Yep! On Dotson, on Dedmon, on Bembry, on Hezonja! NFL Bengals at Browns (Dec. 23, 1 p.m. ET, CBS) We all know how this drama must end: with a Hallmark Channel–worthy reconciliation of Baker Mayfield and Hue Jackson. NHL Blues at Kings (Jan. 21, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN) Why do these two Western Conference rivals reside in the basement? Not because of faceoff win percentage—both rank top five. So the answer is … everything else. Glorious!…

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3. fitted for a king

How would you describe your style? Well-dressed and with a little edge. I wear suits a lot but jeans and leather jackets too. I love music and rock, so that’s influenced me a bit. How do you keep up with the latest trends? I don’t. When I was younger, I definitely did, but in the last 10 years I figured out what I like and I just trust what I like. If it’s not trendy, it’s not really a concern of mine. How long does it take you to decide what to wear on a game day? One minute. Wow, that’s fast. Well, you have all the suits, and you just pick one you haven’t worn in a while or one you like. I have a few colors I like—black, gray, blue. I don’t like brown. So…