You can think of a photo as a collection of atoms, countless tiny, varied pixels moving at frenzied speeds before bonding to produce power and energy supercharged beyond the sum of those parts. Take this photo, perhaps the most ambitious in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's 60 years, shot on April 12, 2014, at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, where a year earlier two bombs had exploded, murdering three and injuring 264 more. In the crowd, more than 3,000 Boston Strong, there is a complex, furious swirl of emotion—heartbreak, joy, remembrance and triumph all colliding at once and bonded by the lens of photographer Gregory Heisler into a single, indelible image. It is a metaphor, writ large, for the entire Year in Sports.
Photograph by GREG NELSON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
June 12, Miami
The Spurs—with big help from Kawhi Leonard (2)—rise again. The Heat begin their descent into an uncertain future.
Photograph by JOHN S. PETERSON ICON SMI
June 25, Omaha
Vanderbilt piles it on after winning its first College World Series title.
Photograph by DAMIAN STROHMEYER FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
April 21, Boston
Meb Keflezighi is the first American male to win the Boston Marathon in 31 years.
Photograph by BRUCE BENNETT GETTY IMAGES
April 1, Uniondale, N.Y.
Ice shave and a beauty by the Panthers' Nick Bjugstad on the Islanders' Travis Hamonic.
Photograph by 1. JASON PARKHURST FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
Selfie Nation, Every Day 1.
From left: Garrald McDowell, Victor Evans and DeVante Kincade,
Oxford, Miss., Oct. 4
Photograph by 2. CARLOS OSORIO/AP
Detroit, June 8
Photograph by 3. DAVID J. PHILLIP/AP
. J.J. Watt,
Houston, July 26
Photograph by 4. PATRICK SEMANSKY/AP
Baltimore, Sept. 16
Photograph by 5. ROBERT BECK/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
Ryder Cup, Sept. 28
Photograph by 6. ROB CARR/GETTY IMAGES
Washington, D.C., Nov. 21
Photograph by 7. BRUNO MAGALHAES/AP
Belo Horizonte, Brazil, July 24
Photograph by 8. TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS
From left: Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Novak Djokovic, Kei Nishikori, Andy Murray, Milos Raonic, Marin Cilic and Tomas Berdych,
London, Nov. 7
Photograph by 9. KEVIN JAIRAJ/USA TODAY SPORTS
Didier Drogba and Ivory Coast teammates,
Dallas, May 31
Photograph by 10. AL TIELEMANS/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
Damion Square and Vinny Curry,
Philadelphia, Aug. 21
Photograph by 11. JOHN W. MCDONOUGH/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
From left: Bu Willingham, Ray Allen, Kevin Ollie and Richard Hamilton,
Arlington, Texas, April 7
Photograph by 12. ZOU ZHENG/XINHUA/ZUMAPRESS.COM
Mike Conway (in white), Will Power (black) and Tony Kanaan (red),
Toronto, July 21
Photograph by 13. IMAGO/ZUMAPRESS.COM
Mario Balotelli, with AC Milan fans,
Pittsburgh, July 27
Photograph by 14. MARK J. REBILAS/USA TODAY SPORTS
Glendale, Ariz., Oct. 26
Photograph by 15. DAVID E. KLUTHO/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
From left: Paul Rudd, Jayson Nix and Scott Downs,
Kansas City, Oct. 15
Photograph by 16. ANDRE RINGUETTE/NHLI/GETTY IMAGES
Phil Kessel and a resourceful fan,
Ottawa, Nov. 9
Photograph by 17. VLADIMIR SMIRNOV/ITAR-TASS/LANDOV
Chloé Dufour-Lapointe and sister Justine,
Sochi, Feb. 9
Photograph by 18. ETHAN HYMAN/RALEIGH NEWS & OBSERVER/MCT/LANDOV
Durham, N.C., Feb. 22
Photograph by 19. JULIAN FINNEY/GETTY IMAGES
Billie Jean King and Serena Williams,
Singapore, Oct. 26
Photograph by 20. AP
Richmond, July 25
Photograph by 21. DAVID CANNON/R&A/GETTY IMAGES
British Open, July 20
Photograph by AL BELLO GETTY IMAGES
Nov. 23, East Rutherford, N.J.
Odell Beckham Jr. suspends belief with The Greatest Catch Ever‚Ñ¢, against the Cowboys.
Photograph by JARED WICKERHAM GETTY IMAGES
March 20, Buffalo
Aaron Craft ponders his last-second miss in Ohio State's round-of-64 upset at the hands of Dayton.
Photograph by THOMAS LOVELOCK FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
Sept. 28, Gleneagles, Scotland
Why are these men not smiling? Team USA reflects on its loss in the Ryder Cup.
Photograph by JULIAN FINNEY GETTY IMAGES
July 13, Rio de Janeiro
The German national team walks the path of champions after defeating Argentina 1--0 in the World Cup final.
Photograph by DARREN MCCOLLESTER GETTY IMAGES
Sept. 21, Foxborough, Mass.
The then winless Raiders turned the Patriots' Julian Edelman, and nearly football, upside down in a 16--9 nailbiter of a loss.
Photograph by CHARLES KRUPA AP
Feb. 12, Krasnaya Polyana
Marie Marchand-Arvier of France goes headlong in the women's downhill at the Winter Games.
Photograph by DONALD MIRALLE FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
July 31, Huntington Beach, Calif.
A camera on the Goodyear blimp catches Josh Kerr letting it rip at the U.S. Open of Surfing.
Photograph by TONY GENTILE REUTERS/LANDOV
June 24, Natal, Brazil
Uruguay's Luis Suarez (in white) doth protest too much after his bite marked 'round the world against Italy and Giorgio Chiellini in the World Cup.