Several good pieces in the latest Sports Illustrated about topics I didn't expect to be that drawn into.
The cover image has Lebron and Shaq and the most compelling writing within is about... a 38 year old trainer who never played nor coached basketball at a high level. Idan Ravin is profiled by Chris Ballard as being the go-to physical trainer for star players from Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony to Lebron James.
The piece titled "The Hoops Whisperer" is excerpted from Ballard's book "The Art of a Beautiful Game: The Thinking Fan's Tour of the NBA" and provides a really interesting look at an inner working aspect (and guy in that) of the game.
One thing to note is this continues in the line of great book excerpts I've posted on from SI... with the first being that from "Heart of the Game" by S.L. Price and the second an excerpt from "The Machine: A Hot Team, a Legendary Season, and a Heart-stopping World Series: The Story of the 1975 Cincinnati Reds" by Joe Posnanski.
Also of interest as a sports fan was "The Rich Get Richer" about how stacked the top teams in the league are for this upcoming NBA season. Between the Lakers and Spurs in the West and Celtics and Cavs in the East, there's potential for some great Conference Finals matchups.
Finally, it's not basketball related, but compelling was Joe Posnanski's "Joe Paterno Top Of The World, Pa!." About the longtime Penn State football coach, it's written as a piece to Paterno's (presumably very proud) late father and is just really solid writing.