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On Newsstands Friday: ESPN The Magazine’s Entertainment Issue

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ESPN The Magazine’s Entertainment Issue is back, with two stars who lit up the pop culture landscape this weekend, each paired with an NBA phenom, on the eve of the league’s All Star Weekend. Leslie Jones slayed on Saturday Night Live to record ratings with her recent sketch—and Knicks star big man Kristaps Porzingis learned what it’s like to post up against her, in The Mag’s hilarious cover Q&A with the pair. In our second cover story, Chicago’s own Jimmy Butler and Chance the Rapper—who brought home 3 Grammys Sunday night, including best new artist—took the conversation in a much more serious direction, tapping into the deep connection each star feels to his hometown community.

And with Oscar season fast upon us, don’t miss the Warriors season reimagined as a Hollywood script in three acts, by award-winning screenwriters David Kohan, Adam McKay and Cheo Hodari Coker.

ON THE COVER: 

We bring together Chance the Rapper and Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls to talk about sports, music, culture and how authenticity factors into success or failure in those worlds. Chicago has been at the center of many discussions in 2016, from politics to violence to sports (perhaps you’ve heard of the Cubs), so there’s no better time to talk to two guys who represent the city. By Justin Tinsley, in collaboration with The Undefeated

If Leslie Jones Ran the Knicks.

Saturday Night Live’s Leslie Jones is a huge New York Knicks fan, often seen courtside (and on Twitter) yelling and cheering her team on. She’s also a former college basketball player, so she knows basketball and has a lot of opinions on what is wrong with the team. In a conversation with the Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis, Jones explains how she would fix the team. By Alison Glock, in collaboration with espnW

DON’T MISS:  Dale Earnhardt Jr., sidelined since July with a concussion, thinks he’s found himself and become a better man during his time off from racing. As he prepares to return at Daytona, his focus is on slowing down and becoming a better person while still keeping the edge it takes to survive on the track. By Tommy Tomlinson

LeBron: The Sequel

LeBron James’ first act, becoming one of the greatest basketball players in history, is all but settled as a success. His second act—to become a global media icon, with his team and friends from grade school around him—is just beginning. And it’s arguably equally difficult in scope and ambition. This is the behind-the-scenes tale of how LeBron’s management team was formed, bucking decades-long trends at the intersection of sports and Hollywood. It is a story of power, race, underestimation and unrivaled ambition. By Pablo Torre, in collaboration with TrueHoop

Issue highlights and features:

Damian Lillard’s The Letter O: An Oral History

The oral history is a track-by-track recalling of events leading to the release of The Letter O, the debut album from Dame D.O.L.L.A., stage name for Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard. By Justin Tinsley, in collaboration with The Undefeated

Jolene Van Vugt: From Action Sports Star to Stuntwoman

Motocross rider Jolene Van Vugt is a Canadian national champ, X Games competitor and the first woman to backflip a full-sized dirt bike. In 2011, Hollywood came calling when The Dark Knight Rises director Christopher Nolan’s crew asked if she could ride the Batpod, a one-of-a-kind motorcycle previously ridden by only one man. (Her answer: yes.) Afterward, Jolene returned to performing with Travis Pastrana’s Nitro Circus, promising herself that she’d make a go at stunt work when she was ready to put the live show in the rearview. But a near-fatal accident last September, a day before her 35th birthday, changed everything. By Alyssa Roenigk, in collaboration with espnW

Warriors Instant Script

We asked three Hollywood screenwriters to imagine what a Warriors movie would look like. The result? Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, a divorce; Inside the Warriors’ locker room; and what happens when Draymond Green gets a lesson in anger management from Luke Cage. By David Kohan, Adam McKay and Cheo Hodari Coker

Additional issue highlights and features:

The Numbers: Analytics tell us a lot about sports, but their principles can also be applied to the larger world. To show this, we take the obvious next step, applying the tactics we use in Giant Killers to The Bachelor. We statistically analyze past contestants to see which variables correlate most closely with success on the show, then look to see which of the current contestants share those characteristics most strongly. By Peter Keating

Voices: In 1998, 15-year-old Ian Rawn watched Tara Lipinski at the Olympics and wanted to be a skater like her. Now he’s representing Team USA in ice skating at the Special Olympics. Steve Wulf writes about Ian, who has Down syndrome, and how Tara Lipinski and a Pennsylvania fire department inspired him to train and compete in the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria. By Steve Wulf

The Truth: In his latest column, Howard Bryant writes from a personal perspective about watching the Williams sisters’ triumph together at the Aussie Open, on the heels of the women’s marches and the charged climate we’re in now. He explores the meaning of their legacy and how their talent and their presence—questioned early on—have thoroughly changed the game.

NFL: Insiders debate the scouting report on projected first-round pick Christian McCaffrey. Coaches and teammates rave about McCaffrey’s work ethic and tireless motor. His ability to make defenders miss, because of an elite combination of vision, lateral agility and acceleration, is what makes him special despite his lack of ideal size.

NBA: Any fans headed to New Orleans for the All-Star Game? We’re here to make sure you get the local experience. We asked players and coaches from the Pelicans, Saints and more to share their favorite spots in town.

College Basketball: Amid college basketball’s most exciting season in recent memory, we drop in on college basketball’s most exciting team. UCLA is high-flying and high scoring. Lonzo Ball, Bryce Alford and TJ Leaf are stars led by a coach—Steve Alford (Bryce’s dad)—whom many Bruins fans wanted fired last season. Now he’s got celebrities like Vince Vaughn and Jessica Alba in the stands and is a contender for coach of the year. How’d he turn it around? Will an admittedly fickle fan base find the fever for the hottest game in town? By Hallie Grossman

Zoom: When Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin netted his third goal in a November win over St. Louis, 210 hats (and one bandanna) came raining down from the stands. We capture the diverse collection of headwear. By Ben Arledge

Food: Josiah Citrin, the two-star Michelin Chef behind Dave’s Doghouse, tells us why he uses Stouffer’s on his Mac ’n’ Cheese Hot Dog at LA’s Staples Center.

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