EXCERPT | Oct. 15,1984
Mario Lemieux putthe Penguins on the winning path
The success of thePenguins traces to one man: Mario Lemieux. From his first scrimmage he liftedthe last-place team—as E.M. Swift reported—and went on to score 1,723 points in915 games, leading Pittsburgh to its only two Stanley Cups. He rescued the teamfrom bankruptcy in 1999 by becoming principal owner and now has the club in itssecond straight finals.
Let posterity notethat the light at the end of the tunnel that is Pittsburgh Penguins hockey wasglimpsed at 2:29 p.m. (EDT) on Sept. 20, 1984, when Mario Lemieux scored hisfirst goal in an intrasquad scrimmage. True, Lemieux's goal came against theNHL's most inept defense—the Pens allowed a league-high 390 goals lastseason—but from the reaction of the 400 Pittsburgh diehards who came to see theNHL's top draft choice, the most highly touted rookie since Guy Lafleur, youwould have thought Lemieux had just scored the game-winning goal in a StanleyCup finals.
Taking a pass inthe slot, the 6'4", 200-pound Lemieux, 19, tapped the puck through adefenseman's skates, sidestepped deftly, then swept up the puck and shot itpast startled goalie Michel Dion. The arena went bonkers—"Our savior hasarrived!" screamed one fan—and for minutes the crowd buzzed as if witnessto a miracle, a penguin taking flight, say. In the next hour Lemieux drew gaspsfrom the crowd half a dozen more times, snaking the puck away from defensemenwith his amazing reach, stickhandling in maddening circles, slithering perfectpasses. "Mario did some great things today, scary things," gushedPenguins scout Bruce Haralson. "He did things only Gretzky can do. That'swhat's scary—to think there might be another one."
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From SteveAschburner's column on how Dwight Howard and the Magic advanced to the NBAFinals
It's important notto overlook Orlando's utilization of pick-and-rolls to free its primaryoffensive weapons. Or, for that matter, the flappable but effective Stan VanGundy's knack for adjusting and attacking mismatches—even if it leads to anover-reliance on the heretofore erratic Rafer Alston. Defensively, the Magichave become masterful at funneling penetrating opponents into Howard, who ismore adept than your average 7-footer at altering or blocking shots withoutfouling.
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On the Cover
This Week in SI
Willie Mays helped the Giants get off to a customary fast start, but would theydo their usual fade? No. They'd go to the World Series, then lose to theYanks.
Michael Jordan, in his seventh season, led the Bulls past the Pistons to theirfirst NBA Finals. Next, they would vanquish the Lakers.
Anna Kournikova hadn't won a WTA title, but at 19 she was No. 15 in the worldand, as Frank Deford wrote, maybe the most photographed woman on earth.
Stanley Cup finals
Photograph by LANE STEWART
EMPEROR PENGUIN Lemieux had 100 points as a rookie in 1984--85, was league MVP in '87--88 and three years later took Pittsburgh to the Cup.
HY PESKIN (MAYS)
MANNY MILLAN (JORDAN)
WALTER IOOSS JR. (KOURNIKOVA)
BOB ROSATO (HOWARD)
ASTRID STAWIARZ/GETTY IMAGES (MCMAHON)
DAMIAN STROHMEYER (FAVRE)
JESSICA KLUETMEIER (WILLIAMS)
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (BRYANT)
DAVID E. KLUTHO (OSGOOD)
ITSUO INOUYE/AP (CANSECO)