Bode Miller's folk-hero status grows, Daron Rahlves keeps winning (page 72) and top skiers outside the U.S. also rock: Italy's Giorgio Rocca and Croatia's Janica Kostelic--darling of the 2002 Games--both had record-making runs. Three weeks till Turin!
The upset in Indy (page 40) isn't all that has Steel City sports fans stompin'. Pitt's men's hoops team is 14-0, and the Pirates have had an uplifting off-season, signing bats Jeromy Burnitz and Sean Casey. And, oh, yes, Lynn Swann announced he's running for governor.
Two days before his debut on NBC's NHL Saturday the ferocious Rangers captain was teary-eyed while feted at the Garden. ("Welcome to Mark Messier night, sponsored by Kleenex," said fellow 1994 Cup winner Mike Richter.) Even puckheads in the blue seats got misty seeing Mess at center ice, toddler son in arms, as his number 11 rose to the rafters.
Oklahoma center--her twin Ashley is a key Sooner as well--is averaging 21.4 points, 14.7 rebounds and challenging Vols' Candace Parker as the NCCA's top woman freshman.
With Eli done, Peyton took the big hits: Now 3-6 in his playoff career, he saw a season that began 13-0 evaporate when he led the Colts to three first-half points. Peyton attacked his teammates ("Let's just say we had problems with protection," he said) more effectively than he did the Steelers.
It's not just the loss to Carolina (page 44) that has Windy City sports fans bummed. The Bulls have lost 10 of 13, the Blackhawks are out of contention, and Cubs manager Dusty Baker (79-83 last year) got booed at the annual Cubs convention.
Ten years as Islanders G.M., eight coaching changes, zero times winning a playoff round and a 18-22-2 record this year before he announced plans to step down. Those "Mike must go" chants finally sank in; said Milbury of Islanders fans and his exit, "There's a good part of the population that has been ... looking forward to it, I dare say."
Poor guy. Panthers running back's broken ankle is his third season-ending injury in four NFL seasons. This one comes when he's about to become a free agent.
SI PLAYERS NFL POLL
What team in another sport would you pay to watch?
Miami Heat ............... 21%
New York Yankees ....13%
Los Angeles Lakers .... 8%
Detroit Pistons ........... 6%
Boston Red Sox ..........5%
FAST FACTS Two other baseball teams--the Cubs and the Braves--also received more than 1% of the vote.... Among NBA teams the Suns, Bulls, Cavaliers, Rockets, Spurs and 76ers all drew more than 1%.... Nearly 76% of defensive players chose a basketball team, as opposed to just 51% of offensive players.... Only 8.4% of respondents said something other than an NBA or MLB team--including the 1.6% who named a volleyball team.
[ Based on a survey of 357 NFL players ] • For an expanded version of the poll, go to SI.com/Players.