Over the days he spent with 2002 Sportsman of the Year Lance Armstrong reporting the story for this issue, senior writer Rick Reilly frequently saw Armstrong's soft side. People who probably didn't know much about cycling but recognized Armstrong would approach to ask if they might simply touch the inspiring cancer survivor. Armstrong always obliged. But once Reilly and Armstrong got onto the road for a little cycling, Reilly found out that when it comes to competition Armstrong isn't so affable. The two were riding side by side one morning when Reilly challenged Armstrong to race about 100 yards to a car. "Suddenly," says Reilly, "he was in a Lamborghini Diablo and I was in cement shoes." Of course Reilly shouldn't have been surprised; Armstrong has made a habit of whipping the world's elite cyclists, winning the Tour de France the last four years—arguably as dominant a performance as any by any athlete in any sport ever. Reilly, who had never before been on a bike with toe clips on the pedals, ended up falling over when he stopped. "It was like Arte Johnson used to do on a tricycle on Laugh-In," says Reilly. "Lance delighted in that. He said, 'I told you to never stop pedaling,' which is sort of a motto for his life."
Though he's had many accomplished subjects in his 20 years as a professional photographer, Jonas Karlsson seized the chance to shoot Lance Armstrong, heading out immediately from his home in Stockholm to Austin for the assignment. Karlsson was a natural choice to photograph the cyclist he so admires. Some of his finest work for Vanity Fair has focused on athletes from outside mainstream sports, be they pioneers such as Sir Edmund Hillary or the Generation X hero Tony Hawk.
The summer before his senior year at Williams College, reporter Pete McEntegart became, he believes, the first person to read Sweet Lou, the Lou Piniella story, and Louie: In Season, a biography of St. John's basketball coach Lou Carnesecca, in succession. Neither of those lulus made our list of the greatest sports books, but 100 others did. Says McEntegart, who wrote the synopses for most of them, "One of the best things about this assignment is that my desk now qualifies as the fourth-best sports library on the East Coast."