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This is an article from the March 9, 2009 issue
This week, as Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and Team USA prepare to light up the competition in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, check out SI.com for complete coverage of the games, including a group-by-group preview of all 16 teams and Tom Verducci's reasons why the WBC is a true gem. Plus ...
• Daily analysis of all the tournament action
• Ted Keith: Why Team USA is lacking in star power
Inside the NBA
A few things the Pistons have learned from their failed experiment with Allen Iverson
Inside the NFL
Snap Judgments and the latest news and signings from the free-agent market
Special report on how MLB verifies the identities and ages of players from the Dominican Republic
Can UConn's Hasheem Thabeet and the top-ranked Huskies win the Big East and remain No. 1 down the stretch? SI.com has everything you need to know about college basketball as conference tournament action heats up, including Andy Glockner's Bubble Watch and Luke Winn's list of the 10 things that still need to be decided before the NCAA's big dance begins.
> CHECK IT ALL OUT AT SI.COM/MAGAZINE.
YOUR LINK TO SPORTS HISTORY
FROM SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
MARCH 9, 1981
SI writer John Papanek described the return of Los Angeles Lakers point guard Magic Johnson, who in his second NBA season was sidelined for 100 days after tearing cartilage in his left knee.
JUST AS injury is an inevitable adjunct to sport, so is the clichéd comeback. But there are comebacks and there are comebacks. Mickey Mantle folded his leg over his knee backward and came back. Tommy John had his pitching arm reconstructed and came back. All Magic Johnson did was have a small piece of cartilage removed from his knee—a relatively minor procedure as knee operations go—and he is only 21 years old, for heaven's sake. But the severity of the injury wasn't The Forum crowd's yardstick; it was responding to the persona of Johnson, the man-child who has never failed to live up to his nickname. Last year, his rookie season, he received most of the credit for nudging Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Lakers to the NBA championship. He is a great basketball player and has never been anything but a winner, but beyond that he is as appealing as any public figure, perhaps more so.
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PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY SI IMAGING; PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOHN BIEVER (MEMPHIS); JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (MICHIGAN ST.); ANDY ALTENBURGER/ICON SMI (UCONN); ANDY LYONS/GETTY IMAGES (UNC, LOUISVILLE); NICOLE SWEET/GETTY IMAGES (DUKE); FRED VUICH (PITT); J.P. WILSON/ICON SMI (OKLAHOMA); BACKGROUND BY BOB ROSATO
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