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January 19, 2009
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January 19, 2009

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Ice Capped
Alex Ovechkin for MVP? As the NHL season crashes to the midway point, check out SI.com for its comprehensive midseason report, including analysis of the biggest issues of the first half, Allan Muir's Awards Watch and Michael Farber's predictions for the rest of the season.

> Check out SI.com's photo galleries at SI.com/photos.

SI VAULT
YOUR LINK TO SPORTS HISTORY

FROM SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
DECEMBER 13, 1976

Despite injuries and off-court controversy, Trail Blazers center Bill Walton emerged as the NBA's best all-around player, averaging 21 points per game and leading the league in rebounds and blocked shots. SI writer Curry Kirkpatrick profiled the quirky star.

IT SEEMS only yesterday that Walton was wearing a ponytail, burning incense in airport terminals, answering questions from the FBI and leaving himself open to charges of faking every sort of illness this side of schistosomiasis. But it was not just yesterday, it was two long years ago. Ever since he began this season by not only devastating all competition but also actually looking joyful again, the Portland center has been subjected to sundry psychological investigations intended to explain "the new Bill Walton." But aside from shearing his fiery orange locks and abandoning his exotic woodchopper getups, Walton says he has not changed. He basks in the same counterculture lifestyle, believes in the same political theories, eats the same cucumbers. What's so different?

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PHOTOGRAPHS BY BILL FRAKES (CARDINALS, OBAMA); JOHN BIEVER (ROETHLISBERGER, STEELERS, TEBOW)

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