42 Why Not Us?
Written off (along with the rest of the East), the Pistons are showing signsthat they're better than the 2004 championship team
by Jack McCallum
48 Lefty Gets ItRight
Phil Mickelson is striking the ball better than ever, as evidenced by hisPlayers win
by Alan Shipnuck
52 Third Man In
Just the third Steelers coach in 38 years, Mike Tomlin, 35, is a no-nonsensemotivator—as the players have learned
by Peter King
58 Chaos in theCrease
The conference finals may be decided by the goal scoring of fearless netpests
by Michael Farber
BONDS AND THEBAY
"HE'S BARRY BUTHE'S OUR BARRY"
The national perception is that San Francisco is solidly behind Barry Bonds inhis chase for the home run record. Like most things in this city, it's not thatsimple
by CHRIS BALLARD • page 62
8 Leading Off
• First Person: Utah's Carlos Boozer
• Why Dale Jr. left the family biz
• Roger Federer cans his coach
• Floyd Landis's defense begins
• Comparing top boxing purses
• Big leaguers' glove stories
40 Faces in theCrowd
84 Life ofReilly
That's right, Ray Lewis, I called you a wuss—and other phrases you'll neverhear
by Rick Reilly
• Why the NL West is best
• Scout: James Shields grows up
• The inequity of interleague play
• Will the new trey have an impact?
• A look at where the arcs fall
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY SI IMAGING: ROBERT BECK (BONDS); TANJAGEISSLER/FSTOP/GETTY IMAGES (BRIDGE); BRAD MANGIN, JOHN BURGESS, JEDJACOBSOHN/GETTY IMAGES (FAN REFLECTION)
INSET PHOTOS: BobRosato (Billups); David E. Klutho (Holmstrom)
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> The SensibleChoice
Can Street Sense win the Preakness? After Funny Cide won the Derby in '03, Iremember calling trainer Bob Baffert. "The horse that wins the Derby shouldwin the Preakness," he said. "He was the best horse in the Derby, andit's only two weeks later."
> Read more of this column at SI.com/layden.
> Fishing forAnswers
"That Patriots game still bothers me," says LaDainian Tomlinson, as heplays with the reel on his fishing pole. "I'm already thinking about ourgame against them this season. Even if we kick their butts, I want to see themagain in the playoffs."
> Read more of this column at SI.com/markazi.
1. Photos: Alltime most intimidating pitchers
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. decides to leave DEI
3. First Impressions: a gallery of NFL rookies
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Trade Favre forMcNabb
> Any ideathat was once floated by Terrell Owens is usually bad, but this makes sense:Exchange these two disgruntled quarterbacks and make everyone happy.
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JONATHAN DANIEL/AFP/GETTY IMAGES (WALLACES)
42 UPAGAINST THE WALLACE
The Pistons' Rasheed (right) had a handle on former teammate and fellowWallace, Ben of the Bulls, in Game 3 of their Eastern semifinal.
BRAD MANGIN (BONDS)
DAVID E. KLUTHO (NHL)
BILL FRAKES (STREET SENSE)
PETER READ MILLER (TOMLINSON)
NIGEL KINRADE (EARNHARDT)
CLAY PATRICK MCBRIDE (ORTIZ)
DAVID BERGMAN (MCNABB)