Just a mere 10 days after becoming a nationwide sensation, New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin is officially a Sports Illustrated cover subject. Pablo Torre does the profile that accompanies the cover and goes in-depth on how Lin’s rose from relative obscurity to a meteoric rise.
We have other stories in this week’s issue and you can see what else is being covered below.
Jeremy Lin’s Week Has Everyone Shaking Their Heads and Loving Every Minute
The Big Ten Is the Nation’s Best Basketball Conference
Syracuse Orange: Attacking at Every Angle
Wes Leonard Left His Mark on His Community
Is Tiger On Track to Win Another Major?
Brad Marchand Agitates, Provokes and Colors Outside the Lines
(NEW YORK – Feb. 15, 2012) – After having one of the most implausible weeks in the history of the NBA, New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin is on the cover of the Feb. 20, 2012, issue of Sports Illustrated, on newsstands now. Lin is the first Knick to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated since Marcus Camby on the June 28, 1999.
Undrafted in 2010 out of Harvard and cut twice this season before signing with the Knicks, Lin has scored 136 points in his first five starts, the most by any player since the ’76 NBA-ABA merger, surpassing Shaquille O’Neal’s mark of 129 points (page 44).
Teammate Jared Jeffries spoke with writer-reporter Pablo Torre (@SIPabloTorre) after Friday night’s win at home against the Lakers. He acknowledged how things have changed since Jeremy came on the scene, “Right now, we have a rhythm, and we’re riding this kid’s coattails to the top.”
Even Steve Nash, a player with whom Lin has been compared to over the last week, is impressed; he said on his twitter account @SteveNash: “If you love sports you have to love what Jeremy Lin is doing. Getting an opportunity and exploding!!”
THE BEST DAMN BALL IN THE LAND – KELLI ANDERSON
In the Big Ten Conference, you find teams that emphasize execution, efficiency, toughness, physicality and hard-nosed half-court defense. This season many analysts are calling the Big Ten the best overall conference in the country and competitiveness is at an all-time high. Eight teams are within four games of first place and every team from the bottom half of the standings have beaten at least one team in the top half (page 34).
Says Illinois coach Bruce Weber, “You don’t get those easy transition baskets. When you have the defensive emphasis, when you have systems where they take care of the basketball and they’re not coming down and throwing up quick shots and stuff like that, it all adds up to making it difficult to win and to be consistent. To win a championship, you really have to earn it.”
VARIETY SHOW – MICHAEL ROSENBERG (@Rosenberg_Mike)
On the Syracuse men’s basketball team, which has incredible depth, a new player stars every game. The Orange’s ability to do this is a testament to coach Jim Boeheim’s philosophy. Boeheim has never altered the way he goes about coaching; he has always known the whole was more important than the sum of its parts. A case in point is sophomore guard Dion Waiters, who Boeheim says, “can get his shot anytime he wants. Here, NBA—he can get a shot.” When Waiters thought about transferring after a few run-ins with Boeheim, the coach told him he could either transfer or shut up and come off the bench (page 40).
The allegations of child molestation against 36-year assistant Bernie Fine, which led to his firing on Nov. 27 seemed as if they might bring the whole program down. Boeheim says he met with his players once to talk about Fine, “I probably said something like, ‘It’s a terrible time for us and for me personally because of a relationship of 36-50 years. It has nothing to do with you guys. This is something I have to go through, and I’ll go through it. I’ll handle it.’ “
THE LEGACY OF WES LEONARD – THOMAS LAKE (@ThomasLake)
Last March, Fennville, MI was the center of national attention. Fennville High star athlete, Wes Leonard, had died on the basketball court minutes after sinking a game-winning layup to preserve his team’s perfect regular-season record (page 54).
After Leonard, hit the game-winning shot, pandemonium broke out among the roughly 1,300 people in attendance. As Lake notes, “A boy danced and flailed with a pair of pom-poms while girls jumped around in their fleecy boots. A middle-aged woman raised her cellphone toward the ceiling and shivered, her straw-colored hair bouncing off her cheek. Maria Flores temporarily forgot about the pain in her neck. An unemployed welder named Terry Collins forgot about his daily voyage through the Help Wanted ads, and the feeling he got when his two teenage daughters asked him for spending money he didn’t have. Elsewhere in the stands, Mike George forgot about the brief period in which he lost his wife, his truck-driving job and part of his leg to cancer.”
Then Leonard collapsed. It seemed so surreal for a 16-year-old boy to die from heart failure. But despite the tragedy the team had more to games to play.
THE MEANING OF PEBBLE BEACH – MICHAEL BAMBERGER
This past weekend, millions of fans watched Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson play for the title at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Everything about Sunday’s round felt like a major. At the end of the day Phil shot an incredible 64, while Tiger shot a forgettable 75. It’s a different era in the world when Tiger gets out-played on Sunday but despite the loss, Tiger seems to be on the right path (page 28).
Said Mickelson about Tiger, “He’s really close. All it takes is one week.”
A LITTLE BALL OF HATE – MICHAEL FARBER
Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand agitates and provokes opponents; he hits after the whistle and is always in the opposing goalies face. He has been called every name in the book from rat to brat but he is also developing into one of the best players on one of the league’s best team. Marchand himself admits that he doesn’t have a very good filter when it comes to all his talking but his coach sees a player who is beginning to mature (page 50).
Bruins head coach Claude Julien said, “He’s a good brat when he stays within the rules and disrupts the other team. He’s a bad brat when he takes bad penalties and hurts our team. During the playoffs I was meeting with him twice a day about that. He’s not a guy who doesn’t get it. He gets it. He just slips out of it, and you have to reel him back and spell it out again.”
NHL PLAYERS POLL
Which All-Star caliber player is the easiest to intimidate? (page 15)
- Phil Kessel, Maple Leafs, RW….15%
- The Sedin Twins, Canucks, F ….8%
- Alexander Semin, Capitals, LW….7%
- Patrick Kane, Blackhawks, C….3%
- Ilya Kovalchuk, Devils, LW….3%
[Based on 145 NHL players who responded to SI’s survey]
FAST FACTS: Identical twins Daniel and Hendrik Sedin of the Canucks received votes as a pair as well as individually: Hendrik finished tied for sixth in the voting (3%) and Daniel tied for 17th (1%)…. No defenseman received more than a single vote…. Goaltenders Roberto Luongo of the Canucks and Mike Smith of the Coyotes were the only two players at their position who received votes.
SCORECARD: DON’T HATE THE PLAYER – STEVE RUSHIN (@SteveRushin)
When LeBron James appeared on of Sports Illustrated as a 17-year-old high school junior, he was billed as “The Chosen One.” Over the last few years, LeBron has experienced as much scrutiny as any player in sports history. He has never committed a crime but he continues to make one harmless misstep after another. His standing among fans and other NBA players continues to fall (page 11).
POINT AFTER: BITTEN BY THE HUMBLEBEES – ROY BLOUNT JR.
The city of New Orleans loves and admires its NFL franchise; the same can’t be said about its NBA team. The Hornets have stumbled through a tough season so far they’ve won only four games and have lost five times as many. Attendance is dropping and they are facing a crossroads as an organization. The team is short on talent and is owned by the NBA which causes fans to be even more skeptical of the team’s chances at success (page 64).
Blount writes, “A league owning a team is like a country owning one of its political parties. Unless the owner wants to crush all the other teams, neither the team nor its fans will ever believe the owner has their interests at heart.”
INSIDE THE WEEK IN SPORTS
- MLB (page 20): Training Manual – This week marks the beginning of spring training and everyone feels they have chance of reaching the World Series. Tom Verducci
- College Basketball (page 24): He Makes a Great Point – After spending the summer studying tapes of Jason Kidd and Steve Nash, Iona College’s Scott Machado has become one of the best point guards in the country and is catching NBA scouts attention. (@ChrisMannixSI)
- NFL (page 26): Decision Time – As off-season begins, teams face tough questions anext year. (@SI_JimTrotter)
- Tennis (page 26): Roger, Over and Out – The U.S. Davis Cup squad crushed Team Federer – in Switzerland, on clay. (@Jon_Wertheim)
- Olympics (page 27): Targeting Gold: Seven gold medals for the U.S. at last week’s World Archery Indoor Championship in Las Vegas has the team targeting gold in London.(Brian Cazeneuve)
THIS WEEK’S FACES IN THE CROWD (page)
- Francis Tiafoe (College Park, Md./College Park Junior Tennis Champions Center) – Tennis
- Mina Anderberg (Louisville, Colo./Louisville Middle School) – Cycling
- Tomoki Hiwatashi (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Thomas Jefferson Elementary) – Figure Skating
- Ashley Shin (Flower Mound, Texas/Shadow Ridge Middle School) – Figure Skating
- Jen Peeks (Bethel, Alaska/University of Alaska) – Sled-Dog Racing
- Rashad Wright (Agawam, Mass/Keene State) – Basketball
That’s going to do it.