Every year since 1998, ESPN The Magazine has recognized an elite group of emerging athletes to watch in the year ahead — athletes dubbed NEXT. They are competitors not only on the cusp of stardom, but on the verge of transcending their sports.
ESPN The Magazine’s “NEXT” issue on newsstands Friday, December 28, features profiles of young athletes on the brink of greatness, including Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving, rookie Quarterbacks Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts and Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins, Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, Premier League club Chelsea and Brazil National Team Attacking Midfielder Oscar, NASCAR’s Corey LaJoie, snowboarder Mark McMorris, LPGA’s Lexi Thompson, and WTA’s Sloane Stephens, among others.
A complete list of 2012 NEXT athletes and additional content is available at www.espn.com/next and in ESPN The Magazine.
This has nothing to do with his selection as The Mag’s annual NEXT cover athlete, but the publication date of the first ESPN The Magazine – March 23, 1998 – happens to be the day Kyrie Irving turned six. With the possible exception of his father, nobody could have predicted Kyrie’s greatness then. We did have an idea, though, of what NEXT meant: athletes who would pull us out of our seats and their sports into the future. That’s why we picked Kobe Bryant, Alex Rodriguez, Kordell Stewart and Eric Lindros 15 years ago and why we now highlight Irving among other standouts listed above. In addition to the making of Kyrie Irving and how his single father helped transform a skinny wallflower into a captivating, dominating 20-year-old star, Irving discusses how to get Cavs fans to forget about LeBron James and more in this behind-the-scenes video.
Best way to follow Peyton Manning? Have the best rookie season ever. By Michael Brendan Dougherty *(features video with Luck and ESPN’s Hannah Storm)
Rich Paul, one of LeBron James’ closest friends is now also an agent. It’s a decision that could turn that agency game on its head. By Chris Broussard
How do you contain a triple threat like RG III? You can’t. Just go after him. Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata talks about how to prepare for and contain RG III. By Kevin Van Valkenburg
The next generation is growing up with UFC aspirations. Meet “Crazy” Rayfield, 11, and the Black Widow, 7, poster children for a generation that has developed a love for Mixed Martial Arts. By Tim Keown *(features video)
Luck, Griffin, Kaepernick, Wilson, NFL coaches don’t care about age. Just results. Cary Chow and Seth Wickersham discuss the success of Russell Wilson and Collin Kaepernick along with the decision of their coaches to start young quarterbacks.
- NFL: In “Power Mad,” The Mag’s Kevin Van Valkenburg discusses how in the aftermath of Bountygate, two rival teams still wonder if Roger Goodell has too much authority.
- CFB: The Mag’s Ryan McGee sheds light on whether having more than a month to plan for the BCS Championship is a blessing or too many days of second-guessing in “The Tests of Time.”
- CFB: ESPN’s Darren Rovell explores the possibility of the Irish’s booster rules as a positive influence on college sports in “Fighting Influence.”
- NBA: The Mag’s Chris Palmer catches up with Portland’s rookie sensation Damian Lillard about his first year in the league in “Open Season.”
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Media Contact: Carrie Kreiswirth – 860-766-6042