E. Jean’s Hoop Dreams

By Alex Belth Esquire Classic, 2016 This week marked the anniversary of Magic Johnson’s 1992 return to the NBA after having retired the previous fall, when he announced he was HIV positive. He turned in a triumphant, dramatic performance at the All-Star Game, scoring...

The Untouchable

By Fred Schruers 7 Days, May 31, 1989 Rickey Henderson was staring at second base as if it offended his eye in some way. He was standing in the familiar elbows-back, chin-up pointer stance he assumes anytime his feet are treading base-path dirt, but this was inside...

Summers of Love

By Glenn Stout SportBoston, May 1990 In the end, one of Tony Conigliaro’s longtime friends said it best.  “Did the guy ever have any luck at all? Any?” asked Bill Bates, a former trainer for the New England Patriots. “Never. Zero.”  From his Fenway Park debut, on...

Death of a Racehorse

By W.C. Heinz The New York Sun, July 29, 1949 They were going to the post for the sixth race at Jamaica, two year olds, some making their first starts, to go five and a half furlongs for a purse of four thousand dollars. They were moving slowly down the backstretch...

Benching Himself

By Will Blythe The New York Times, November 4, 2001 At 59, the novelist John Edgar Wideman has recently given up the game of playground basketball. His new memoir, Hoop Roots, originates in that loss, which is monumental, the terrifying and inevitable fate of every...

Down Great Purple Valleys

By John Lardner True, May 1954   Stanley Ketchel was twenty-four years old when he was fatally shot in the back by the common-law husband of the lady who was cooking his breakfast. That was in 1910. Up to 1907 the world at large had never heard of Ketchel. In the...

The Making of a Golden Boy

By Vic Ziegel Playboy, June 1996 Somehow I was not surprised when Oscar De La Hoya’s public relations rep called to reschedule our meeting in East Los Angeles. After all, this boxer is an important person. Some people call De La Hoya the finest fighter in the world,...

Dean Smith

By Will Blythe From To Hate Like This is to Be Happy Forever, 2007 Soon after I returned to Chapel Hill , I had arranged to visit with Dean Smith, the former North Carolina head coach. I dressed up for the occasion, although these days the journalist in me had become...

The Stacks Chat: Alex Wolff

By Alex Belth The Stacks, April 2018 The Library of America’s newest sports anthology, Basketball: Great Writing About America’s Game, is out and deserves a place on the shelf of any self-respecting hoops fan. We recently sat down with the book’s editor, longtime SI...