Did I mention things are a little slow in the sports world right now? Don't believe me? Just ask Jack White, who can't even go to a Cubs game in peace.
Thankfully, The New Yorker – as part of a site redesign – has unlocked its archives (or at least the shoebox marked "2007-2012") revealing a wealth of amazing pieces previously hidden behind their paywall. They'll be available for the next three months, which means now is a good time to dig in the vaults.
I'll admit, their longform approach can be intimidating, but there are a lot of sports stories that deserve that word count. I've recommended a few of my favorites below…because you might as well get some culture while you're waiting on Ray Allen to make a decision.
A Dentist, a Scientific Study and Kobe
If there's one sports related piece you should read, it would be "Marathon Man" by Mark Singer. It's the complicated story of Kip Litton, a dentist from Michigan who seems to go through painstaking details to cheat his way to the top of the marathon runner rankings.
Singer spends the piece building up the evidence again Lipton, exposing a pathological liar with the desire to keep things secret from everyone. The marathon community was in an uproar over Lipton, and there are even blogs tracking his whereabouts and suspicions stemming from photographic evidence from the marathons he supposedly participated in.
My second recommendation would be "The Yips" by David Owen. When an athlete falters in a high stakes environment, we like to say that they choked, that the pressure of the situation got to them. But what if the entire equation is much more complicated than that? It's an eye-opening look at what we should think about the next time we blame someone for blowing it.
Third, take the time to read "The Fourth Quarter" by Ben McGrath. It is, arguably, the definitive profile on Kobe Bryant as he nears the end of his basketball life. There are some wonderful quotes in this piece, from both Kobe and those who have watched him throughout his time in the NBA. A wonderful superstar in the twilight of his career piece.
In case that's not enough, here's a few more suggestions: Lauren Collins on Novak Djokovic, before he emerged from the shadows of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling discussing his passion for video gaming. This was before his company eventually went bankrupt.
And lastly, read about the cult of Aaron Sorkin's "Sports Night", a profile of Nancy Lieberman – trail blazer and first female coach in the NBA developmental league – and this 2001 conversation with O.J. Simpson.