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This is an article from the Jan. 19, 2009 issue
As the Steelersprepare to chase Ravens QB Joe Flacco for the third time this season, check outSI.com for full coverage of the NFL conference championships, including reportsfrom Don Banks and Lee Jenkins, and a breakdown of each game. Plus ...
• Photo galleriesof key players and top plays
• Peter King's picks for both games
• SI mobile's live scores and game tracker
FOR THE LATESTNEWS AND NOTES FROM AROUND THE NFL, GO TO SI.COM/NFL.
How the Cardinals went from mockery to potential NFC champs
Inside the NFL
Monday Morning Quarterback and the Tuesday Mailbag
Inside the NBA
A bigger, stronger Kevin Durant is on the verge of stardom
Alex Ovechkin for MVP? As the NHL season crashes to the midway point, check outSI.com for its comprehensive midseason report, including analysis of thebiggest issues of the first half, Allan Muir's Awards Watch and MichaelFarber's predictions for the rest of the season.
> Check outSI.com's photo galleries at SI.com/photos.
YOUR LINK TO SPORTS HISTORY
DECEMBER 13, 1976
Despite injuriesand off-court controversy, Trail Blazers center Bill Walton emerged as theNBA's best all-around player, averaging 21 points per game and leading theleague in rebounds and blocked shots. SI writer Curry Kirkpatrick profiled thequirky star.
IT SEEMS onlyyesterday that Walton was wearing a ponytail, burning incense in airportterminals, answering questions from the FBI and leaving himself open to chargesof faking every sort of illness this side of schistosomiasis. But it was notjust yesterday, it was two long years ago. Ever since he began this season bynot only devastating all competition but also actually looking joyful again,the Portland center has been subjected to sundry psychological investigationsintended to explain "the new Bill Walton." But aside from shearing hisfiery orange locks and abandoning his exotic woodchopper getups, Walton says hehas not changed. He basks in the same counterculture lifestyle, believes in thesame political theories, eats the same cucumbers. What's so different?
> Check outthe latest classic SI story at SI.com/classic.
> for yourfavorite stories and covers, go to SI.com/vault.
PHOTOGRAPHS BYBILL FRAKES (CARDINALS, OBAMA); JOHN BIEVER (ROETHLISBERGER, STEELERS,TEBOW)
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