Another good one—Rick Reilly's 1986 SI tribute to the columnist Jim Murray—"King of the Sports Page":
Since 1961, a Jim Murray column in the Los Angeles Times has been quite often a wonderful thing. (He's carried by more than 80 newspapers today and at one time was in more than 150.) Now 66, Murray has been cranking out the best-written sports column this side (some say that side) of Red Smith. But if a Smith column was like sitting around Toots Shor and swapping stories over a few beers, a Murray column is the floor show, a setup line and a rim shot, a corner of the sports section where a fighter doesn't just get beaten up, he becomes "sort of a complicated blood clot." Where golfers are not athletes, they're "outdoor pool sharks." And where Indy is not just a dangerous car race, it's "the run for the lilies."
In press boxes Murray would mumble and fuss that he had no angle, sigh heavily and then, when he had finished his column, no matter how good it was, he would always slide back in his chair and say, "Well, fooled 'em again."
Murray must have fooled all the people all the time, because in one stretch of 16 years he won the National Sportswriter of the Year award 14 times, including 12 years in a row. Have you ever heard of anybody winning 12anythings in a row?
After a Lakers playoff game against the SuperSonics in 1979, Muhammad Ali ran into Murray outside the locker room and said, " Jim Murray! Jim Murray! The greatest sportswriter of all time!"
Which leaves only one question.
Was it worth it?