You can think of a photo as a collection of atoms, countless tiny, varied pixels moving at frenzied speeds before bonding to produce power and energy supercharged beyond the sum of those parts. Take this photo, perhaps the most ambitious in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's 60 years, shot on April 12, 2014, at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, where a year earlier two bombs had exploded, murdering three and injuring 264 more. In the crowd, more than 3,000 Boston Strong, there is a complex, furious swirl of emotion—heartbreak, joy, remembrance and triumph all colliding at once and bonded by the lens of photographer Gregory Heisler into a single, indelible image. It is a metaphor, writ large, for the entire Year in Sports.
PHOTOPhotograph by GREG NELSON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
1 June 12, Miami The Spurs—with big help from Kawhi Leonard (2)—rise again. The Heat begin their descent into an uncertain future.
PHOTOPhotograph by JOHN S. PETERSON ICON SMI
2 June 25, Omaha Vanderbilt piles it on after winning its first College World Series title.
PHOTOPhotograph by DAMIAN STROHMEYER FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
3 April 21, Boston Meb Keflezighi is the first American male to win the Boston Marathon in 31 years.
PHOTOPhotograph by BRUCE BENNETT GETTY IMAGES
April 1, Uniondale, N.Y. Ice shave and a beauty by the Panthers' Nick Bjugstad on the Islanders' Travis Hamonic.
PHOTOPhotograph by 1. JASON PARKHURST FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
Selfie Nation, Every Day 1. From left: Garrald McDowell, Victor Evans and DeVante Kincade, Oxford, Miss., Oct. 4
PHOTOPhotograph by 2. CARLOS OSORIO/AP
2. Justin Verlander, Detroit, June 8
PHOTOPhotograph by 3. DAVID J. PHILLIP/AP
3. J.J. Watt, Houston, July 26
PHOTOPhotograph by 4. PATRICK SEMANSKY/AP
4. Adam Jones, Baltimore, Sept. 16
PHOTOPhotograph by 5. ROBERT BECK/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
5. Lee Westwood, Ryder Cup, Sept. 28
PHOTOPhotograph by 6. ROB CARR/GETTY IMAGES
6. Adam Silver, Washington, D.C., Nov. 21
PHOTOPhotograph by 7. BRUNO MAGALHAES/AP
7. Ronaldinho, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, July 24
PHOTOPhotograph by 8. TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS
8. From left: Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Novak Djokovic, Kei Nishikori, Andy Murray, Milos Raonic, Marin Cilic and Tomas Berdych, London, Nov. 7
PHOTOPhotograph by 9. KEVIN JAIRAJ/USA TODAY SPORTS
9. Didier Drogba and Ivory Coast teammates, Dallas, May 31
PHOTOPhotograph by 10. AL TIELEMANS/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
10. Damion Square and Vinny Curry, Philadelphia, Aug. 21
PHOTOPhotograph by 11. JOHN W. MCDONOUGH/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
11. From left: Bu Willingham, Ray Allen, Kevin Ollie and Richard Hamilton, Arlington, Texas, April 7
PHOTOPhotograph by 12. ZOU ZHENG/XINHUA/ZUMAPRESS.COM
12. Mike Conway (in white), Will Power (black) and Tony Kanaan (red), Toronto, July 21
PHOTOPhotograph by 13. IMAGO/ZUMAPRESS.COM
13. Mario Balotelli, with AC Milan fans, Pittsburgh, July 27
PHOTOPhotograph by 14. MARK J. REBILAS/USA TODAY SPORTS
14. Jon Dorenbos, Glendale, Ariz., Oct. 26
PHOTOPhotograph by 15. DAVID E. KLUTHO/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
15. From left: Paul Rudd, Jayson Nix and Scott Downs, Kansas City, Oct. 15
PHOTOPhotograph by 16. ANDRE RINGUETTE/NHLI/GETTY IMAGES
16. Phil Kessel and a resourceful fan, Ottawa, Nov. 9
PHOTOPhotograph by 17. VLADIMIR SMIRNOV/ITAR-TASS/LANDOV
17. Chloé Dufour-Lapointe and sister Justine, Sochi, Feb. 9
PHOTOPhotograph by 18. ETHAN HYMAN/RALEIGH NEWS & OBSERVER/MCT/LANDOV
18. Jay Bilas, Durham, N.C., Feb. 22
PHOTOPhotograph by 19. JULIAN FINNEY/GETTY IMAGES
19. Billie Jean King and Serena Williams, Singapore, Oct. 26
PHOTOPhotograph by 20. AP
20. RGIII, Richmond, July 25
PHOTOPhotograph by 21. DAVID CANNON/R&A/GETTY IMAGES
21. Rory McIlroy, British Open, July 20
PHOTOPhotograph by AL BELLO GETTY IMAGES
Nov. 23, East Rutherford, N.J. Odell Beckham Jr. suspends belief with The Greatest Catch Ever‚Ñ¢, against the Cowboys.
PHOTOPhotograph by JARED WICKERHAM GETTY IMAGES
1 March 20, Buffalo Aaron Craft ponders his last-second miss in Ohio State's round-of-64 upset at the hands of Dayton.
PHOTOPhotograph by THOMAS LOVELOCK FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
2 Sept. 28, Gleneagles, Scotland Why are these men not smiling? Team USA reflects on its loss in the Ryder Cup.
PHOTOPhotograph by JULIAN FINNEY GETTY IMAGES
3 July 13, Rio de Janeiro The German national team walks the path of champions after defeating Argentina 1--0 in the World Cup final.
PHOTOPhotograph by DARREN MCCOLLESTER GETTY IMAGES
1 Sept. 21, Foxborough, Mass. The then winless Raiders turned the Patriots' Julian Edelman, and nearly football, upside down in a 16--9 nailbiter of a loss.
PHOTOPhotograph by CHARLES KRUPA AP
2 Feb. 12, Krasnaya Polyana Marie Marchand-Arvier of France goes headlong in the women's downhill at the Winter Games.
PHOTOPhotograph by DONALD MIRALLE FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
3 July 31, Huntington Beach, Calif. A camera on the Goodyear blimp catches Josh Kerr letting it rip at the U.S. Open of Surfing.
PHOTOPhotograph by TONY GENTILE REUTERS/LANDOV
4 June 24, Natal, Brazil Uruguay's Luis Suarez (in white) doth protest too much after his bite marked 'round the world against Italy and Giorgio Chiellini in the World Cup.