"THE STARTING OVER FIVE"
Feb. 8, 1999
"If the NBA wants to win back its alienated fans [after the '98 lockout]," SI wrote, it "should promote players like this quintet, who represent the best of what the league could—and should—be." Presumably the B-team included Kobe, Shaq, Iverson, Garnett and Duncan.
Unselfish hustler? Sure. But how do you build a league's image around a journeyman who never averaged double-figure scoring and frequently played a reserve role?
One out of five ain't bad, right?
"Entertaining without being selfish," SI said of the guy who would later be known for his fallouts with Kevin Garnett, Larry Brown and Isiah Thomas. Gaudy numbers and all, Starbury only once made it to the second round of the playoffs.
Keith Van Horn
The No. 2 pick from 1997 and the Great White Hope of Y2K-era basketball was a quality scorer on some lottery-bound teams, but he never made a single All-Star team.
The captain of SI's squad (for his moral compass) suffered a career-ending leg injury in April. Later jailed for 26 months after accidentally killing his limo driver and driving drunk.
A gem from the SI Letters vault. In July 1955, after an article on the art of bird-watching ran in the magazine, one reader wrote in about his own hobby: girl-watching. SI printed it.
"... The only point over which girl watchers and bird watchers sometimes disagree is the place each holds in the hierarchy of hobbies. Naturally, or I should say personally, I contend that the unexpected observation and quiet contemplation of a Late-Rising Pubthrush (for example) is a more rewarding experience than the sight of a Blue-Billed Barnswallow (if there is such a bird) rising from a thicket.... I believe further that there is very little reason why girl watching should be compared with bird watching in the first place. For one thing, bird watchers are concerned primarily with bird identification and only secondarily with the bird as a bird. The opposite is true of girl watchers. Whether the species is an Argyle-Ankled Classcutter or a Wide-Eyed Culturebug is of less importance than whether she is beautiful. In other words, a bird watcher may be crushed and demoralized when he fails to identify a purple bird with a yellow spot between her eyes, while a girl watcher will be both delighted and fulfilled by the vision of a beautiful redhead (even though he may not have the slightest idea whether she is a Carrot-Topped Minkmiser or a Flame-Tressed Tablehopper)...."
—DON SAUERS President, American Society of Girl Watchers, Inc., Tuckahoe, N.Y.
"THE BEST INFIELD EVER?"
Sept. 6, 1999
Maybe the best at the time. But ever? You decide
Defensive whiz hit .188 before breaking his left arm in 2000. Lasted two more mediocre years in New York, then petered out.
On-base machine won three Gold Gloves in four seasons, but his bat was lost in the shuffle of the era's inflated slugging numbers.
Hit .243 in 2001 amid a slew of injuries. Three poor seasons (.723 OPS) got him shipped to the Angels, who axed him after 18 games.
His .235 average over the next two seasons got him traded to the Yankees, then the Dodgers, where he platooned at first base before retiring in 2004.
WHO APPROVED THIS?
Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity
There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity
He always has an alibi, and one or two to spare
At whatever time the deed took place—MACAVITY WASN'T THERE!
—From "Macavity: The Mystery Cat," one in a series of feline-themed T.S. Eliot poems that ran alongside a January 28, 1957, story on New York's Empire Cat Club show ("Some Gentlemen Prefer Cats") and a collection of kitty watercolors by Andy Warhol
Some odd SI fixations through the years, and the number of times they graced our pages
That's 29 SI hits for every time she made it to the fourth round of a singles event
SI milked his moment, in 2012, for two straight covers (neither Magic nor Bird got that) and a cover nod the next week: "Marlinsanity"
She won Olympic gold in Athens in 2004, but that's still a lot of attention for a softball pitcher
OFF ON THE WRONG FOOT
Our very first issue—Aug. 16, 1954—contained one of the most jaw-dropping strings of sentences ever printed in SI. Early on, the magazine ran a column, Jimmy Jemail's Hot Box, that polled readers with sports-centric queries—many of which led to awkward revelations about postwar domestic life.
Here's Philadelphia "barmaid" Helen Brown, on "What sport provokes the most arguments in your home?"
"Swimming. On the beach he'd eye every dame in a swim suit. Even auntie in a Bikini. And what arguments! Then I learned why. He couldn't help it. When he married me he had four other wives. And when I was getting an annulment he married another girl."
"The character of O.J. Simpson will endure. It will be his legacy."
—From a Nov. 26, 1979, story just before the Juice retired
... Fifteen years later he was tried for the murder of his ex-wife.
WALTER IOOSS JR./SPORTS ILLUSTRATED/CONTOUR BY GETTY IMAGES (KOURNIKOVA)
HEINZ KLUETMEIER FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (LIN)
JOHN BIEVER (FINCH)