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ESPN The Magazine March 2019

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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nice to see you again …

What was it like shooting future NBA champion Kevin Durant back in 2005? Photographing him in high school, I didn’t really know the extent of his ability or potential. I was a year out of college. My skills at that time were not like they are now. So I was just excited to photograph an athlete who could be something big. What was the set like that day? I had my father assisting me on the shoot so I could take the situation in. We did a couple of different setups, including some on a yellow backdrop to go with his green uniform, which in hindsight looks absolutely ridiculous. That was bad. How did that shoot compare to this issue’s shoot with Durant’s AAU team? Being almost 15 years apart, there were some differences. At…

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the history of fixing isn’t history

One line of research I pursued for this story was the deep history of American sports-fixing. What I found was amazing: Only after news of the 1919 World Series conspiracy broke did baseball crack down on its fixing problem. When the O.K. Corral’s Wyatt Earp began working as a boxing ref in his later years and allegedly threw a bout for gamblers, it sparked national outrage. Point-shaving schemes rocked college hoops in the 1950s. In the decades following, the FBI pursued multiple investigations of Mafia corruption in major U.S. pro sports. J. Edgar Hoover himself once wrote in a memo, “I want to bear down on these fixes in football.” And perhaps the most famous NBA ref of all time, Mendy Rudolph, was a gambling addict who was once propositioned by…

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the numbers

Predictive analytics get better all the time, but every now and then, it’s essential to take a breath and appreciate the uncertainties that remain with us in sports. Competition always involves both skill and luck, and our greatest joys and deepest agonies as fans usually come from watching them collide. In the case of the Daytona 500, coming up on Feb. 17, I mean that literally. Daytona truly is a place where anyone can win. In 2013, Tim Chartier, a professor of mathematics and computer science at Davidson College, and Brian McGue, then a Davidson student and now a software engineer, studied the order of drivers at various points in a series of NASCAR events. They found that where drivers ranked during Daytona races had essentially no bearing on where they…

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1. romo’s crystal (golf) ball

TIGER WOODS wins a major this year. He won’t be starting the year wondering how his body will react to his new feels and technique. He knows his swing now. I think his practice sessions will be much more systematic in nature. Instead of getting his feels down for his swing each week, he’ll be practicing shots for a particular course or layout. JORDAN SPIETH finishes in the top five on tour in strokes gained on approach shots. His stats will show how fantastic his iron play is. MATT KUCHAR finishes the year with the most top-10s on tour, and he wins four times. SOMEONE will make a winning putt with the flagstick still left in on the 72nd hole of a tournament. The Players Championship tees off March 14-17 on the Golf Channel…

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2. games of the weak

It’s been a looong, frigid winter filled with losses for Chicago and Detroit. But they can at least celebrate two things. First, spring training for the Cubs, White Sox and Tigers starts on Feb. 18! And second, these head-to-head matchups will produce one jubilant fan base. Uh, unless there’s a tie—wait, there aren’t ties in hockey anymore? NHL Blackhawks at Red Wings (Feb. 20, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) An NHL Original Six matchupcool! A 2018-19 Bottom Six of the NHL matchup—much less cool. NBA Bulls at Pistons (March 10, noon ET, NBA League Pass) Remember when this rivalry was MJ vs. the Bad Boys, featuring eight future HOFers? Now it’s a rivalry-ish. As in Ish Smith. As in the fifth-leading scorer for the Pistons, who you perhaps didn’t even know was a person. All Big…

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3. how to save the nba’s asg

Editor’s note*: Over the past year, we’ve received nonstop letters to “The Ragazine” from someone identifying as “The Fixer.” His ideas for overhauling sports, mailed from a P.O. Box in Pennsylvania, are equal parts revolutionary and scary for our interns to read. So, obviously, we have decided to publish them—including this one about the All-Star Game. *Editor’s-note note: None of this is real. (Except for the no defense part. That’s, like, way too real.) Succumb to the joy and defenselessness of the All-Star Game , Feb. 17 at 8 p.m. ET on TNT.…