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Russell Westbrook Featured on Cover of ESPN The Magazine’s ’Tis the Season Issue, on Newsstands Friday


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Cover shoot photos and videos:

ESPN The Magazine is celebrating the “most wonderful time of the year” with its ’Tis the Season Issue, featuring Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook across two holiday-themed covers. The magazine, which hits newsstands Friday, Dec. 15, is packed with NBA content and broken into three sections: “’Twere the Nights Before Christmas,” “’Tis the Night of Christmas,” and “’Twill be the Nights after Christmas.”

In the ‘Tis the Season cover story, ESPN’s Royce Young sits down with NBA star and new dad Russell Westbrook to talk holidays and family traditions as his upcoming Christmas home game approaches. Additional photos of Westbrook from his photo shoot are featured throughout the issue. Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder will visit the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m. ET in a nationally-televised game on ESPN.

Christmas came early in the NBA before the 2009 season, when the league relaxed a longtime rule and started allowing more creative footwear. Kobe Bryant soon sparked a Christmas Day tradition—a festival of outlandish kicks. Since then, no star has released more Christmas sneakers than LeBron James. “Tied Up in a Bow,” written by Nick DePaula, looks at how the King kick-started a movement.

In “The Greatest Story Ever Trolled,” senior writer Ramona Shelburne delves into how Joel Embiid has turned the Sixers’ famed Process into performance art, and everyone is feeling merry and bright—for now. (Video: “The Passing Fancy of Lonzo Ball,” written by Kevin Arnovitz, explores whether a pass-first player like the Lakers’ Ball can be an NBA superstar. Additionally, the issue includes flowcharts for all the Christmas Day matchups, providing viewers a guide to their rooting interests.

Additional content highlights:

2017: Well, That Was Different

The Mag presents a timeline of the people and moments that became a permanent part of the sports conversation in 2017.

The University of Adidas at Louisville

How former AD Tom Jurich leveraged big deals and big-time basketball to build Louisville into a powerhouse, only to watch it burn down amid charges of excess, exploitation and corruption. By Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada, in collaboration with Outside the Lines

The Walk-in

Just a few months since his Sept. 17 LA debut, Chargers running back Melvin Gordon is proving he more than just looks the part. By Stacey Pressman

Forward Progress

After a terrible rookie season, Rams QB Jared Goff was marked as a failure. Now he’s completely turned his fortunes around, and his partnership with first-year coach Sean McVay is paying dividends. The Mag attempts to capture the spirit around the team right now. By Tim Keown

Fancy Meeting U Here

Four gridiron behemoths square off in pairings both familiar (Alabama vs. Clemson) and brand-new (Georgia vs. Oklahoma) to see who will rule in Year 4 of the College Football Playoff. By Hallie Grossman

The Third Revolution of Scotty James

Australia’s two-time Olympian had gone from wonderkid to almost quitting the sport. Now, at X Games, he’s out to prove he’s the best halfpipe snowboarder in the world. By Alyssa Roenigk

Also in this issue:

Numbers: Columnist Peter Keating on how the NFL’s decision to move touchbacks to the 25-yard line in 2016 gave a surprising leg up to Bill Belichick’s very special teams.

The Truth: Columnist Howard Bryant explores how even though tanking can be a winning strategy, it can still take a toll on fans and players.