While growing up in Bloomington, Minn., STEVE Rushin. SI's pro basketball reporter, felt the tug of several sports. As a youth working for. as he puts it, "what I believe was subminimum wage" in the commissary of the now razed Met Stadium, he formed permanent allegiances to the Twins and the Vikings. His maternal grandfather, Jim Boyle, had a cup of coffee with the New York baseball Giants in 1926. In 1954 Steve's father, Don, was a blocking back for Johnny Majors at Tennessee. And Steve's older brother, Jim, was a forward on the Providence hockey team that reached the Final Four in 1983.
Yet, somehow. Rushin ended up a basketball nut. That is. in fact, a big reason he's at SI. After reading senior writer Alex Wolff's feature on the annual Gus Macker three-on-three tournament in Michigan, Rushin struck up a correspondence with Wolff. He ended up writing an anthology of sports nicknames. From A-Train to Yogi, with Wolff and Chuck Wielgus. That was before Rushin graduated from Marquette and joined SI in the spring of 1988. Since his arrival he has written stories for the magazine on a variety of subjects, including aerobics instructors, malapropisms and pool immortal Willie Mosconi. all the while tending to his fact-checking duties and cultivating superb impersonations of most of our editors. In his spare time he has completed Pool Cool, a book on billiards that will be published by Pocket Books this spring.
Rushin has also supplanted the aging Wolff as the best basketball player on the staff, though he's often criticized for not venturing into the paint for rebounds. On the job he is more tenacious. For example, as we were closing a piece on Denver Nugget coach Doug Moe last year, an editor made a late insertion, which required that Rushin find out what Moe had majored in at Elon College. Rushin phoned the Nuggets, explaining his predicament. An intern in the Nuggets' publicity office, evidently brand-new, said, "I'm sorry. Coach Moe is down at practice now. Could you call back tomorrow?"
Insisting that his deadline loomed. Rushin talked the intern into going to the gym and asking Moe. She called back moments later, breathless and obviously pleased with herself. "I got the information." she said. "Coach Moe told me to tell you he got his degree in quantum physics."
Replied the resilient Rushin. "That would be his B.S., I presume."
Rushin goes through hoops to get answers.