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This is an article from the April 2, 2012 issue
At age 75 following a long battle with lung cancer, colorful boxing writer Bert Sugar. Recognizable ringside or on a red carpet with his trademark brown fedora and cigar, Sugar (above) wrote more than 80 books, mostly about boxing history; published and edited Boxing Illustrated and The Ring; and appeared as himself in fight movies such as The Great White Hype and Rocky Balboa. Originally planning a career as a lawyer, Sugar graduated from Maryland and got his JD and MBA at Michigan, but he changed course once he got to New York City and fell in love with the sweet science. Ever a slave to sports, he got the call about his election to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2005—but he asked Hall director Ed Brophy to call back because he was watching his Wolverines in the Rose Bowl.
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At age 89 of pneumonia following a battle with lymphoma, Mel Parnell, the winningest lefthander in Red Sox history. Spending his entire 10-year career in Boston, for whom he threw a no-hitter in 1956, Parnell (right) was 123--75 with an ERA of 3.50 (including 71--30 and 3.40 at Fenway Park, which is notoriously difficult for lefty pitchers because of the Green Monster). His finest season came in '49, when he went 25--7 with a 2.77 ERA, started the All-Star Game and led the league in wins, complete games and innings pitched. Despite a formidable array of teammates, led by Ted Williams, Parnell's Red Sox never overcame the Yankees to win a pennant—but that was no fault of his own. He beat the Bombers 15 times from '49 to '53, earning himself the nickname Yank. An elbow injury ended Parnell's career in '57, and he managed in the minors before becoming a Red Sox broadcaster, where he helped popularize the term Pesky Pole for Fenway's rightfield foul marker.
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By NASCAR, a 25-point penalty levied against Jimmie Johnson and a six-race suspension issued to his crew chief, Chad Knaus, for what had been deemed an illegal modification to Johnson's number 48 Chevrolet before Daytona on Feb. 17. Officials had taken issue with Johnson's C posts, which connect the car roof to the top of the rear quarter panel and decklid (an alteration of which might have lent an aerodynamic advantage). An appeals panel initially upheld NASCAR's penalties on March 13. But chief appellate officer John Middlebrook overturned the ruling a week later without giving a reason. Restoring the points catapults Johnson, who races for Hendrick Motorsports, from 17th to 11th in the Sprint Cup standings.
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At age 56 of mesothelioma, likely brought on by exposure earlier in life to asbestos, Australian climber Lincoln Hall, who was famously rescued in May 2006 on Mount Everest the morning after his team left him for dead. Hall had reached the summit but was overcome by altitude sickness shortly after he began his descent. Sherpas dragged him down the mountain, but as night fell and he showed no signs of life, the expedition leader told the group by radio to leave him and save themselves. Hall's family was notified of his death. The next morning, however, another group of climbers discovered him at 28,000 feet, sitting up and saying, "I imagine you are surprised to see me here." They abandoned their summit attempt and rescued him. "My Christian and Muslim friends call it a miracle, my climbing friends say I am a lucky bastard, and my Buddhist friends say I must have more to do on this Earth," Hall said afterward.
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From a heart attack, former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian. According to family members, Tarkanian, who led the Runnin' Rebels to their first national title, in 1990, was at a dermatologist's appointment on March 20 when he began wheezing. Tarkanian, 81, was taken to MountainView Hospital in Las Vegas, where an EKG confirmed that he had suffered the attack; he was expected to be released the next day, at which point doctors discovered a partially collapsed lung. A hospital spokeswoman later reported that Tarkanian was doing "very well" and that he was moved from intensive care.
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At age 80, Ron Erhardt, former Patriots head coach and offensive coordinator under Bill Parcells when the Giants won Super Bowls XXI and XXV. In 1956, following two years in the Army, Erhardt (left) began his coaching career at the high school level in North Dakota. Staying in-state, he took NDSU's head coach job in '66 and led the Bison to two college division titles before departing for New England in '73. (Explaining why he fired Erhardt in '81, after he'd gone 21--27, Pats owner Billy Sullivan said, "He was just too nice a guy.") Eventually his run-heavy style jelled with the Giants as well as with the Steelers, for whom he was the coordinator in their run to Super Bowl XXX.
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By the Raptors when they hosted Canadian Forces Appreciation Night against the Bulls at the Air Canada Centre on March 21, camouflage uniforms, including matching kicks for PG Jose Calderon. Following Toronto's late-game collapse and 94--82 loss, The Globe and Mail poked fun at the NBA fashion first: RAPTORS DISAPPEAR IN FOURTH QUARTER. Well ... not quite disappear. As these past camo-clad teams have learned, it's tough not to notice the military garb, regardless of the setting.
Southern Mississippi students kicked out of the Golden Eagles' band and stripped of their scholarships for chanting, "Where's your green card?" at Kansas State PG Angel Rodriguez during a March 15 NCAA tournament game.
Time from the first face-off that it took the Canadiens' Erik Cole to score a natural hat trick in a win over the Senators last Friday, the fastest since Calgary's Brian MacLellan's in 1990.
Cost of the two-foot-long Champion Dog that will be sold at Rangers Ballpark this season. The frank, which will be served on a cutting board, is meant to feed four.
Points scored, respectively, by the Thunder's Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant in a win over the T-Wolves last Friday—the second time this season that each scored at least 40. No other teammates had ever done that more than once.
Enrollment at D-I Union College (N.Y.), whose men's hockey team advanced to the Frozen Four. By comparison, Butler, Cinderella of the last two men's basketball tournaments, claims twice as many students.
NBA PLAYERS POLL
Who is the league's best ball handler?
CHRIS PAUL, CLIPPERS PG 50%
STEVE NASH, SUNS PG 11%
JAMAL CRAWFORD, HAWKS SG 11%
DERON WILLIAMS, NETS PG 8%
DERRICK ROSE, BULLS PG 6%
Crawford was the only non-point guard in the top seven.... Paul and Nash topped the same poll when SI asked five years ago, but in reverse order.... Nash got more respect from his contemporaries: Only 6% of players under 30 named him, but he got 27% of the over-30 vote .... Nash also ruled on Facebook, where in a similar poll he tallied 54%. Celtics PG Rajon Rondo (sixth on the players' list) edged Paul for second, 19% to 17%.
BASED ON 146 NBA PLAYERS WHO RESPONDED TO SI'S SURVEY