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Leading Off

Dec. 07, 2015
Dec. 07, 2015

Table of Contents
Dec. 7, 2015

SI NOW
INBOX
LEBRON JAMES
  • The shorthanded Cavaliers have the best record in the East, but that hasn't impressed their best player. No, King James won't be satisfied until he's won what the Warriors took from him in June. The clock is ticking, and the kid gloves are off

BACKUP QBS
HOCKEY +
COLLEGE FOOTBALL
POINT AFTER
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Leading Off

TWO PHOTOSPHOTOGRAPHS BY BRAD MANGIN FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATEDStanford Three It's the kicker's equivalent of the two-out bottom-of-the-ninth grand slam: last home game as a senior, fourth quarter, team down by one, six seconds on the clock—just enough for a make-or-break 45-yard field goal try. Stanford's Conrad Ukropina must have played out the scenario a million times in his imagination, because last Saturday it sure looked as if he had done it before. Ukropina split the uprights to give the No. 9 Cardinal a 38--36 win over No. 6 Notre Dame, knocking the Irish out of the college football playoff picture. As for the eerie calm that Ukropina displayed during the kick? It was long gone during the wild celebration in Palo Alto (inset). PHOTOPHOTOGRAPH BY MANNY MILLAN FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATEDPurple Reign It has been 20 seasons since Kobe Bryant joined the Lakers as an 18-year-old from Lower Merion High in Ardmore, Pa. In that span—which included five NBA titles, two Finals MVPs, 17 All-Star selections, 12 All-Defensive teams, two scoring titles and the 2008 MVP award—Bryant developed into one of the league's signature stars and an inspiration for a generation of players. On Sunday, with injuries rendering him a shadow of his more formidable self (right, in February 2000), Bryant announced he will retire at the end of this season (POINT AFTER). FIVE PHOTOSPHOTOGRAPHS BY BOB MARTINFresh Takes Over 30 years as a photographer, Bob Martin has seen it all—yet each of his pictures feels like a moment never witnessed before. Martin, an SI staffer from 1998 to 2009, is the rare sports shooter whose eye for emotion and drama (for example, Florence Griffith-Joyner at the 1988 Olympics, far left bottom) is matched by a knack for camera positioning (as at the European Land Yachting Championships, far left middle, and the Cheltenham UK horse race, far left top) and lighting wizardry (as with this synchronized swimmer in 2013, left). These images are among the dozens presented in 1/1000th: The Sports Photography of Bob Martin, available now.