41 THE CONSPIRACY ISSUE Every conspiracy theory revolves around a simple tenet: Nothing is ever quite as it seems. Yes, the truth is out there. You just have to know where to look. 42 NO SUCH THING AS A BAD CONSPIRACY Why does the NBA ignite more conspiracy theories than any other U.S. sport? It’s not always easy to separate the crazy from the implausible. By Pablo S. Torre 50 THE WHISTLEBLOWER’S LAST STAND To some, Mike McQueary is a hero who took down a monster. To others, he’s a liar who forced out JoePa. The truth is somewhere in between. By Don Van Natta Jr. 60 THE GREATEST SPORTS CONSPIRACY IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE It took five brackets and more than 8,000 votes, but SportsNation has finally spoken on the one conspiracy theory that trumps all. By Ty Wenger and LaRue Cook 62 THIS IS THE WAY THE CASE CRUMBLES With no eyewitnesses, no murder weapon and no motive, Aaron Hernandez could very well walk away from murder charges a free man. By L. Christopher Smith 68 #BELIEBITORNOT No, Blake Griffin didn’t actually slap Justin Bieber (at least not to our knowledge). But everyone wishes he did. And that’s all that matters. By Sam Alipour 72 PORTRAIT OF A POINT SHAVER Brandon Johnson wanted to help rebuild the University of San Diego’s hoops program. Instead, he got entangled in a point-shaving scheme. By Shaun Assael
INSIDE 8 THE TRUTH The fragility of hype. By Howard Bryant 10 THE NUMBERS The platoon is back, baby! By Peter Keating 12 ZOOM The painstaking process of installing Dale Jr.’s wraps.
PLAYBOOK 14 ZOOM Not even beard icicles— yes, you read that right— could stop this crosscountry skier. 80 THE FIX Celebrating (read: mocking) the optimism sprouting from every MLB clubhouse. By Chris Jones
cover illustration by SEAN M c CABE THIS PAGE: ILLUSTRATION BY EDDIE GUY; LOGO BY MATT LEHMAN
17 COLLEGE BASKETBALL Our Giant Killers model finds the teams primed to pull off a tournament shocker.
27 SURFING John John Florence on his quest for the No. 1 ranking and his first Masters Pro title.
24 NBA Is the Greek Freak for real? We put him under our scout’s microscope to find out.
28 TECH The goal-line technology that’ll leave nothing to chance at the World Cup.
26 BODY SHOT Stars center Tyler Seguin gives the details on his chiseled core.
30 TRENDING Rockets sharpshooter Chandler Parsons talks his traveling must-haves.
32 "I HOPE THEY GO 0–162" Ian Kinsler—the overlooked guy in baseball’s biggest offseason trade—has his sights set on a new beginning in Detroit. And if he sticks it to the Rangers in the process, then so be it. By Robert Sanchez
03/17/2014 ESPN The Magazine