This is an article from the Dec. 14, 2009 issue
The hotness never stops. They've got the NBA's best record (16--3 through Monday) and longest winning streak (nine straight) and the game's most lethal scorer (still Kobe, at it again with a buzzer-beater). What can a contender like the Suns do? What they did was go to L.A. and get trounced by 20 points.
The nation's highest-paid college hoops coach is trying to temper excitement in his new gig—no mean feat at Kentucky. And if starting 8--0 and knocking off North Carolina is what Calipari means by "so far from where we need to be," well, Wildcats fans can live with that.
His 150-yard rushing days may be over, but he's still putting up six. Eight touchdowns in six games—all San Diego wins—got him to 150 TDs faster than anyone else. And after passing Jim Brown in career yards on Sunday, he met the Hall of Famer. "A perfect day," said LT.
Remember the name. U.S. skiers may be holding their own (page 38), but this Swiss didn't miss last week, becoming the first man to sweep three races at Beaver Creek since Hermann Maier in '99. Is the World Cup points leader impressed with himself? "I am just a skier," he said.
You could see it coming. Cup-minded (and forever impatient) Philadelphia had slipped to 11th in the East when coach John Stevens got fired. New coach Peter Laviolette's debut? Capitals 8, Flyers 2, and another blow to Philly's mojo: tough guy Daniel Carcillo drew a four-game ban for punching an unsuspecting Cap.
After the worst home loss of his Louisville career (87--65 to unranked Charlotte) Pitino didn't know what to do. "He couldn't even yell at us, he was so embarrassed," said guard Edgar Sosa. Once he found his voice, Pitino said of the team, "We've got a lot to learn."
Three losses in four games have dropped New England to an un-Patriotic 7--5. Tom Brady's banged up, the defense can't even tame the likes of Miami's Chad Henne (career-high 335 passing yards) and coach Bill Belichick keeps getting burned on fourth-down decisions.
Recent events have changed his fortune. The redshirt freshman QB helped Stanford go 8--4 and earn a bid to the Sun Bowl in Texas—his home state. Alas, he broke a finger in the last game and had surgery. So when the Sun comes up on Dec. 31, he'll be on the bench.
SI PLAYERS NFL POLL
WHO IS THE STRONGEST PLAYER IN THE LEAGUE?
Albert Haynesworth, Redskins DT 12%
Kris Jenkins, Jets DT 7%
Casey Hampton, Steelers DT 7%
James Harrison, Steelers LB 7%
Leonard Davis, Cowboys G 6%
Players could not vote for a teammate.... Longtime Cowboys guard Larry Allen, who retired after last season, also drew 6% of the vote.... At 6-feet, 242 pounds, Harrison is more than 80 pounds lighter than any of the other top five vote-getters.... Running backs Darren McFadden of the Raiders and Adrian Peterson of the Vikings were the only players at offensive skill positions to receive more than one vote.
Based on a survey of 296 NFL players