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At age 85 of natural causes, Dick Miles, a Cold War--era table tennis stalwart who was once considered the biggest American threat to the giants of Europe and Asia. Miles employed his signature underhand-gripped forehand (often played, daringly, down the middle of the table) to win a record 10 men's national championships from 1945 to '62. Internationally, he was a contender for the world title, and in '59 he became one of three Americans ever to reach the world championship semis. Later in life Miles (above) wrote about his sport in a book, The Game of Table Tennis, and as a contributor to SI; dealt in imported table tennis equipment; and put on exhibitions, including one at the invitation of a group of Chinese delegates in '71, as part of a Cold War ice breaker dubbed "Ping-Pong diplomacy."
In the rescue of two passengers whose car overturned on a highway near Pittsburgh, Jamie Dixon, head coach of the Pitt basketball team. Dixon was driving home around 10 p.m. on Saturday after a film session at the Panthers' Petersen Events Center, when he witnessed the car crash into a barrier on Interstate 279 and flip. The first person on the scene, Dixon pulled one of the women out of the vehicle through a broken windshield. Firemen later helped in extracting the other woman, whom Dixon had found unconscious. (The driver fled, according to police.) "It was one of those things where you just react," said Dixon, whose hands were bandaged after being gashed by the car's windshield. "A lot of people would have done the same thing."
For sale by the New York auction house Sotheby's, Dr. James Naismith's two-page typescript of the original 13 rules of basketball (SI, Nov. 25, 2002), which includes the inventor's handwritten notation, "Hung in the gym that the boys might learn the rules—Dec 1891." For more than a decade Naismith's grandson Ian Naismith, 72, has taken the rules on tour—carrying them in a hard-shell briefcase and once misplacing them in a Kansas City Hooters—as he and his Naismith International Basketball Foundation stumped on behalf of sportsmanship, participation, healthy living and other values espoused by Naismith, a minister who believed in "muscular Christianity." During that time, Ian told SI, the family has received a number of offers for the document, including one for $2 million in 1973 and another for $5 million 15 years ago, but the rules were never for sale. Now, with the Foundation's receipts plummeting in the recession, the Naismiths are finally looking to unload. Sotheby's expects the document to fetch at least $2 million at the Dec. 10 auction.
By relative newcomer Cain Velasquez in the main event of UFC 121 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., last Saturday, heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar. A former NCAA and WWE titlist who'd made two successful defenses since capturing the UFC crown from Randy Couture in November 2008, Lesnar took the challenger down twice in the opening round. But Velasquez used a sharp jab to open a gash under his foe's left eye and turned the tide with a takedown of his own at the 2:48 mark. From there, Lesnar (above, left) mostly fled, and referee Herb Dean stopped the fight 4:12 into Round 1. "What can I say? He was better than me tonight," Lesnar said afterward. Though its star of two years no longer holds a belt, it is believed UFC might benefit from Lesnar's loss, which leaves two viable superstars (including Velasquez, who will face undefeated Junior Dos Santos next), instead of one.
To be wed, Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic and three-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova. Since the Slovenian groom-to-be and his Russian fiancée first met, at a friend's barbecue in 2009, the couple have been paparazzi fodder around L.A. Vujacic, 26, has credited his time spent training with Sharapova, 23, at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., this past summer, with preparing him for his 2010--11 season. "As two pro athletes in different sports we both understand what the other is doing and going through, and what it takes to do well," he said. "She's working hard. I'm working hard. It's good together." On Oct. 19, on the one-year anniversary of their meeting, Vujacic ensured their continued union with what he described as an "old school" proposal at his Manhattan Beach home. Now, he said, "we can focus on other things."