- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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By Rafael Nadal, the Rogers Cup championship, with a 6--3, 4--6, 6--2 victory over Andre Agassi in Montreal on Sunday. The 19-year-old Spaniard (above) is already an experienced champion--he leads the ATP with nine titles this year--but his trademark white capri pants had never been so clean while hoisting a trophy. The Rogers was Nadal's first career hardcourt win, a sign that, with the U.S. Open approaching, he's shedding his reputation as a clay-court specialist. In their first meeting the lefthander frustrated Agassi, 35, with his speed along the baseline and wide array of shots. "I know I can play good on a hard court because I have some good scores this year," said Nadal, whose world ranking has shot from 51st to second this year. "But for me to win here is very, very nice.... That's very good for me for the U.S. Open."
By Georgia football fans, a campaign to pay for the father of a Boise State player to travel from Iraq to Athens, Ga., to watch the teams play on Sept. 3. Several members of an Internet message board for Georgia fans took up a collection to raise $2,700 for Dan Miller, the father of Boise State guard Tad Miller, after reading about him in a newspaper. (Dan is a retired police lieutenant who's training police officers in Baghdad.) But NCAA compliance officers at both schools quashed the idea because the payment would violate NCAA rules that bar athletes and their families from receiving special benefits from fans or boosters. "Makes no sense to me," said Sam Hendrix, the Georgia fan who launched the campaign. "It just hits me that ... [the NCAA has] lost touch with reality."
By a Boston judge, an injunction keeping the Hawks' ownership group from ousting part-owner Steve Belkin from his position as the team's NBA governor. A simmering feud between Belkin and his fellow owners came to a head last month when Belkin--who owns 30% of the team but as governor has final say on player transactions--blocked a trade for Suns guard Joe Johnson (SI, Aug. 15). After commissioner David Stern said he would approve Belkin's removal as governor, a judge ruled that the Atlanta owners are now free to depose Belkin, who could remain an owner and even keep his job as governor if he rescinds his trade veto. (A decision is expected by this Friday.) Either way, it appears Johnson, who shopped for houses in Atlanta last week, will soon be a Hawk.
Of lung cancer at age 73, Coo Coo Marlin (above), the father of two-time Daytona 500 champ Sterling Marlin and one of stock car racing's early stars. Coo Coo, who got his nickname as a young boy because he had trouble pronouncing his given name, Clifton, never won a NASCAR race. But he was a four-time champ at the now-defunct Tennessee Fairgrounds, where the competition included future stars such as Bobby Allison and Red Farmer. In the 1974 Daytona 500, Marlin held a half-lap lead late in the race, but he was black-flagged by NASCAR officials, who told him they thought he had a loose lug nut. The car was fine--and Marlin, an independent driver without a sponsor, became convinced that NASCAR made the call so Richard Petty would win the race. "I'm still mad," he told SI in 2001. After he retired, Coo Coo continued to live on the 700-acre farm in Columbia, Tenn., where he grew up and where Sterling and his family live. "My dad raced hard," said Sterling. "The lesson he taught me was to run every lap as if you were qualifying."
On a marijuana possession charge, Barret Robbins. The former Raiders lineman, who last played in 2003, the season after he went AWOL and missed Super Bowl XXXVII, is awaiting trial on attempted murder charges stemming from his alleged beating of three Miami police officers last January. Last Saturday, San Antonio police picked up Robbins--who is undergoing treatment for bipolar disorder--when they smelled marijuana coming from his car; as of Monday he was still in jail.