Here is a roundup of SI.com's 10 most popular stories this week. Be sure to read to the bottom for a bonus story from the SI Vault.
The story behind the best story to never run in Sports Illustrated . By Chris Ballard.
Underdogs: Abraxas I
In Western Pennsylvania, residents at the Abraxas I adolescent treatment center earn the right to play football on the local high school team. This is the first episode of Season 4 of SI Films' Underdogs.
SI.com sat down with Don Garber, the MLS commissioner, ahead of this weekend's MLS Cup between the Columbus Crew and Portland Timbers. Topics included acquisitions of women's teams, and the desire to be a top worldwide league by 2022. By Grant Wahl.
When Stan Van Gundy took over as Detroit Pistons coach and president, he cleaned house to center the team around Andre Drummond, just as he did in Orlando with Dwight Howard. Eighteen months later, the move is paying big dividends. By Lee Jenkins.
“I’ve been here before, with an unbeaten team in December, but this 2015 Panthers squad is different from the 2009 Saints—younger, more unified on the field, but still learning how to handle success. We may not go 16-0, but it’s what happens in Santa Clara in February that matters.” By Roman Harper.
LeBron James has already logged more minutes in his career than Magic Johnson or Larry Bird, but he only has two championships to go with four Finals defeats. With less than a month to go before he turns 31 and with the Golden State Warriors looking unbeatable, he is feeling the pressure to finally bring a championship to Cleveland. By Lee Jenkins.
Labor unrest. The concussion crisis. Stars embroiled in scandals. Poor play. Poorer officiating. And yet, revenues and ratings keep growing. A look at some of the issues that could possibly (but probably not) slow down the NFL’s seemingly unstoppable growth. By Andrew Brandt.
Villanova guard Jalen Brunson grew up in a basketball family, as his father Rick had played ten years in the NBA for a number of different teams. After a scandal rocked his family, Rick had more advice to give to his son than just words about basketball. By Lee Jenkins.
As fiery as his red hair, the Bengals’ quarterback has finally taken a leadership role and transformed into an MVP candidate. For the nonbelievers, a postseason win will be the measure of true growth. By Robert Mays.
UNC quarterback Marquise Williams has turned the Tar Heels into one of the best football teams in the country. This weekend, he will seek his greatest highlight: an upset victory over Clemson. By Lindsay Schnell.
Former tennis star Jimmy Connors was brought up by his grandmother and coached by his mother. The confidence that those two women gave him helped him take tennis by storm in the 1970s and become one of the greatest players of all time. This story originally appeared in the Aug. 28, 1978 issue of Sports Illustrated. By Frank Deford.