What if . . .
- . . . Alex Rodriguez had been traded to Boston?
- . . . The '94 MLB strike never happened?
- . . . Babe Ruth was sold elsewhere?
- . . . Williams and Dimaggio didn't go to war?
- . . . Michael Jordan had continued playing baseball?
- . . . N.C. State hadn't pulled off its miracle?
- . . . The Blazers had better injury luck?
- . . . Big Ben was drafted by the Giants?
- . . . Donald Trump had made the Bills great?
- . . . Drew Brees had passed his Dolphins physical?
- . . . These field goal attempts had been good?
- . . . George Halas had died in a boat wreck?
- . . . Jim Harbaugh had stuck with Alex Smith as 49ers quarterback?
- . . . The NFL map looked like this?
- . . . Peyton Manning went to San Diego?
- . . . Teddy Roosevelt hadn't revolutionized football?
- . . . Terrell Owens was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame?
- . . . LeBron James had chosen soccer over basketball?
- . . . U.S. soccer got the right call in the '02 World Cup?
- . . . Cleveland had been saved by George Steinbrenner?
- . . . These draft moments had happened differently?
- . . . Injuries had never altered these five careers?
- . . . Lance Armstrong had been whipped by cancer?
- . . . Muhammad Ali had never met Malcolm X?
- . . . PEDs had been legal all along?
- . . . Steve Bartman had never gone to Wrigley?
- . . . Things had happened differently for these four illustrious coaches?
- . . . Tiger Woods had pursued a career as a Navy Seal?
- . . . These trades had actually happened?
- . . . Wayne Gretzky hadn't been traded to the Kings?
Icon Illustrations by Martin Laksman
What If ... these five careers hadn't been altered by injury?
by Jacob Feldman
From Derrick Rose to Steffi Graf, examining the greatest injury what ifs.
WHAT IF ... Charles Martin gently downs (instead of suplexing ) Jim McMahon in '86 Packers-Bears game.
NEW ENDING: Healthy McMahon, not Doug Flutie , leads Bears (and a D that's stronger than in '85) to second SB win. Walter Payton gets title-game TD, keeps playing. Bears are contenders when Bulls start threepeat ; Chicago is Titletown.
WHAT IF ... Günter Parche, an obsessed Steffi Graf fan, is stopped by security at middling tennis event in Hamburg before stabbing Monica Seles on April 30, 1993.
NEW ENDING: It's unrealistic to imagine Seles's keeping up three-majors-a-year pace through '90s , but her on-court rivalry with Graf nonetheless elevates women's tennis years before Williams sisters arrive.
WHAT IF ... In first round of 2012 playoffs, against 76ers , Bulls guard Derrick Rose falls while jumping—but MVP-to-be gets up quickly, only slightly tweaking left knee.
NEW ENDING: Chicago lives up to advanced metrics, claims '11–12 crown, sets up rivalry between D-Rose, LeBron . Five years later Kevin Durant chooses still-dominant Bulls over Warriors.
WHAT IF ... Bo Jackson runs through 1991 playoffs unscathed, hip joint intact.
NEW ENDING: Bo leads Raiders to a couple of Super Bowls (heck, maybe all that joy keeps them in L.A.?) while building Hall of Fame baseball résumé . Future two-sporters like Russell Wilson and Jameis Winston remain twin-tracked, keeping MLB atop cultural zeitgeist.
WHAT IF ... Indians' Ray Chapman twitches the slightest bit as Carl Mays's fifth-inning fastball barrels in on his head in August 1920.
NEW ENDING: Chapman takes it in the skull but lives to see another day. MLB brass hold off on new rules that, in reality, trigger Live Ball era, preventing HR boom. Sublime bunts lead Sportscenter's Top 10 to this day.