LEADING OFF
EDITOR'S LETTER
Inside: THE WEEK IN SPORTS
SMALL PROBLEMS
Missouri's four-guard lineup might be the shortest in the Big 12, but it's wreaking havoc in the conference by
DIRK IN PROGRESS
The Mavericks allowed free agents to depart with an eye toward reshaping their roster to give their franchise player another title run. Whom might they pursue?
RUNNING MATES
The trials in Houston produced the U.S.'s deepest team in decades—and one that will be ready for anything at the Games
BOXING
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHAMP
Five decades after his first mention in SI, the man with a total of 38 cover appearances still inspires us, especially remembering the long road he traveled from denounced rebel to beloved icon
NFL PLAYOFFS
ALEX SMITH. REALLY? REALLY
Beleaguered, battered and booed for much of his career, the former No. 1 pick did the unthinkable, outdueling Drew Brees in a postseason epic to lead San Francisco to within one game of the Super Bowl
ELI, AS IN ELITE
Quarterback Eli Manning has put to rest all questions of his leadership and clutch ability, outgunning the Packers' Aaron Rodgers to lead the Giants to their second NFC title game appearance in five seasons
A TIGHT END ONE-TWO PUNCH
Bill Belichick's most brilliant innovation yet: turning the tag team of Rob Gronkowksi and Aaron Hernandez into his most dangerous—and versatile—weapon
THE HOUR GROWS LATE
The Ravens' D is the team's heart and soul. But this might be the last, best shot at a Super Bowl for a unit that is aging—and maybe slipping
COLLEGE BASKETBALL
DRIVING FOR HOME
A hoops prodigy who had her choice of powerhouse programs, Elena Delle Donne once quit the sport. Now she's the nation's top scorer at upstart Delaware—and couldn't be happier
PRO HOCKEY
RICKY RUBIO
¬°Olé!
For two years Ricky Rubio was an NBA draft pick stewing in his native Spain. Now he is spreading joy in Minnesota with his artful passes and spirited play
POINT AFTER
Departments
The Fight of His Life
A documentary series opens up the taut world of boxing trainer Freddie Roach