To download cover: http://bit.ly/1N8WVFN
How do we frame the coming NBA season? Who’s NBA is it? Is it LeBron James’ NBA, the plaything of a prodigiously powerful team builder? Is it James Harden’s NBA, the hardwood stage for an aggressively weird piece of human performance art? Is it Kevin Durant’s NBA, a yearlong final exam on the future of a franchise? Is it Brandon Armstrong’s NBA, an amusing little thing to be parodied and commodified? Or is it the Warriors’ NBA, an experiment in discovering if pace-and-space 3-jackers can win multiple titles? Regardless of framing, if we know anything about the NBA, it’s this: The distance between winning and losing a title can reside in the space between finger and thumb.
- Team previews, projections and power rankings: NBA experts Bradford Doolittle, Amin Elhassan, Tom Haberstroh and Kevin Pelton help readers navigate the standings, and Grantland’s Kirk Goldsberry maps out each team’s offense, identifying the amount of space each requires an opposing defense to cover.
- ESPN The Magazine NBA Season Preview Special airs Thursday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2: The show features host Cassidy Hubbarth, analysts Brad Daugherty and Chris Broussard along with guests Pablo S. Torre and Dave McMenamin covering the key storylines throughout the issue.
ON THE COVER: In “A Mystery Wrapped Inside an Enigma Shrouded in a Beard,” senior writer Pablo S. Torre takes us into the world of James Harden’s aggressively weird persona, including his ability and desire to draw fouls—which makes his games sometimes hard to watch. It also says everything you need to know about the most enigmatic man in the NBA. Using this quirky on-court strategy as a window in, The Mag profiles the man behind the beard, revealing his master plan to rule the world.
NBA Preview Issue features and highlights
LeBron Will Take Your Call Now
The unseen, off-court power plays of King James. The Mag tells the story of how LeBron James helped build the Cavaliers organization to his liking—in the form of a graphic novel! By Brian Windhorst and Dave McMenamin
An inside look at the drama brewing in Oklahoma City, where Kevin Durant, a soon-to-be free agent, has one more season to prove that he and Russell Westbrook can win together. A league MVP just two seasons ago, Durant is entering the final year of his contract. If he leaves Oklahoma City in the summer of 2016, the Thunder go from title contenders to rebuilding. If he stays, everything they’ve built there has a chance to endure. By Ramona Shelburne
The Great Pretender
Brandon Armstrong is the king of NBA impersonations—from Russell Westbrook and Kobe Bryant to James Harden, LeBron James and others—that have made him a viral star. Armstrong, who has played in the D-League and overseas, says his current gig is actually better than being in the NBA. By Kent Russell
Also in this issue:
- COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Essayist and novelist Kiese Laymon grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, and is in Oxford this fall as a writer-in-residence at Ole Miss—a completely different world from the one in which he was raised. In “How They Do in Oxford,” Laymon shares a first-person essay on Mississippi’s heritage seen through the prism of his first Rebels football game, set against the larger experience of being a black man in a state and in a town still struggling to reconcile their painful history.
- The Truth: Columnist Howard Bryant highlights Padres pitcher Bud Norris’ thinly veiled words about foreign players needing to respect “baseball’s codes” as being rooted in sanctimony and racism. He also cites the recent Jonathan Papelbon-Bryce Harper generational feud as another example of baseball’s outdated sanctimony. It’s time to see the codes for what they really are—and let those codes go.
- NFL: com senior writer Jeremy Fowler interviews Antonio Brown about headphones, the wideout’s awesome hairstyle and working with quarterback Michael Vick after Ben Roethlisberger’s injury.
- COLLEGE FOOTBALL: With Cal QB Jared Goff rising up draft boards, The Mag’s Tim Keown sizes up the fractured state of college quarterbacking and explores the offensive disconnect between NFL coaches and college coaches in “Searching for Aaron Rodgers.”
- VOICES: In an excerpt from his autobiography 12-time NFL Pro Bowl linebacker and ESPN NFL analyst Ray Lewis shares the story of being named after a stranger.
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Carrie Kreiswirth – (646) 547-4686 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Jen Cingari – (646) 547-5840 or email@example.com