A sumo wrestling tournament. A failed coup ending in seppuku. A search for a forgotten man. How one writer’s trip to Japan became a journey through oblivion.
How a Soviet swimming champion saved passengers from a sinking trolleybus.
The bumpy rise of Saturday Night Live’s first star.
Excerpted from Saturday Night, published in 1986.
Two days in crisis.
At that moment, I didn’t feel like a journalist. There was nothing about this event that I felt the need to chronicle. There was no time to find out what the bombs actually were and what was actually coming out of the guns and what type of gas was coming out of the canisters. In this moment, there was nothing I felt the need to broadcast to the world. I didn’t even have the desire to communicate my safety or lack thereof.
I was just a black man in Ferguson.
Eddie Griffin made it to the NBA. Then his life began to unravel.
Previously: Jonathan Abrams on the Longform Podcast.
A profile of Tiny Lister, the silver screen’s half-blind villain.
How a Japanese company took over the American living room.
Excerpted from Console Wars.
An oral history of the 2002 Western Conference finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings.
Previously: Jonathan Abrams on the Longform Podcast.
Why did Anthony Gatto, the greatest juggler alive—and perhaps of all time—back away from his art to open a construction business?
Previously: Jason Fagone on the Longform Podcast.
Searching for Puddles the Clown, whose cover of Lorde’s “Royals” made him an Internet star.
Searching for the real reason why a bunch of kids partying at the empty home of an NFL player became a national story.
An open letter on Grand Theft Auto 5 and aging out of the Rockstar Games franchise.
The lost dream of Korleone Young, a high school basketball star who skipped college and flamed out after only one NBA season.
In January, the body of a 17-year-old athlete was found in his high school’s gym. The authorities ruled it an accident. His friends and family aren’t convinced.
Three days on road with former chef and current rap eccentric Action Bronson.
On the county fair and casino circuit with Huey Lewis, who at 61 is “part of a select fraternity of musicians who can draw a couple thousand people in dozens (if not hundreds) of middle-American towns … scattered throughout the country.”
An oral history of the 2003 World Series of Poker, as poker went mainstream in America and online players invaded the competition.
A drunken evening with the Primer and Upstream Color director.
Charles Pierce’s classic GQ profile of Tiger Woods, annotated.
Two decades later, unpacking a historic bust.
In February, Jerusalem’s FC Beitar, the only soccer team in the Israeli Premier League to have never signed an Arab player, signed two Chechnyan Muslims, sparking national controversy and pitting the organization against their ultras fan club La Familia.
Investigating a former NFL star’s new business: renting professional athletes to their biggest fans.
How Singaporean mobster Tan Seet Eng, aka Dan Tan, and a global network of fixers influenced as many 680 soccer matches at the highest levels.
On high school basketball star Chris Tang and the pressures of being the “Great Yellow Hope.”
The relationship between Buffalo and its team.
Dunks, drugs, and disappointment: an oral history of the 1980s Houston Rockets.
Catching up with the controversial radio host, who recently returned to the air after years away.
A profile of Mo Isom, a former goalie on the LSU women’s soccer team now trying to kick for the football team.
How Sherwin Shayegan pulled off a 3,000-mile, piggyback ride-fueled road trip.
An interview with Pavement’s Bob Nastanovich on his career afterlife as a “a clocker and chart-caller” and occasional breeder at an Iowa race horse track.
The political fight over a new football stadium in Minnesota.
On the lost pickup basketball games in D.C. between Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor, then both still in college, during the summer of 1957.
A writer’s trip home to Hot Springs, Arkansas, and the racetrack inextricably linked with the histories of his family and his hometown.
How the game gets made.
On the death of a high school basketball star in New York City.
On the enduring appeal, both amateur and academic, of man vs. dinosaur.
He rose from poverty to fame as a marathon champion at only 23. But was his fall from a balcony outside of Nairobi murder, accident, or suicide?
"At the end of the cycle of Morning Glory, I was hailed as the greatest songwriter since Lennon and McCartney," Gallagher recalls. "Now, I know that I'm not, and I knew I wasn't then. But the perception of everybody since that period has been, 'What the fuck happened to this guy? Wasn't he supposed to be the next fucking Beatles?' I never said that I was the greatest thing since Lennon and McCartney … well, actually, I'm lying. I probably did say that once or twice in interviews. But regardless, look at it this way: Let's say my career had gone backwards. Let say this new solo album had been my debut, and it was my last two records that sold 20 million copies instead of the first two records. Had this been the case, all the other albums leading up to those last two would be considered a fucking journey. They would be perceived as albums that represent the road to greatness. But just because it started off great doesn't make those other albums any less of a journey. I'll use an American football analogy since we're in America: Let's say you're behind with two minutes to go and you come back to tie the game. It almost feels like you've won. Right? But let's say you've been ahead the whole game and you allow the opponent to tie things up in the final two minutes. Then it feels like you've lost. But the fact of the matter is it's still a fucking tie. The only difference is perception. And the fact of the matter is that Oasis sold 55 million records. If people think we were never good after the '90s, that's irrelevant."
On the shift from the “triple-A video-game production cycle — the expensive development process, in other words, by which games like Halo, Grand Theft Auto, Uncharted, and BioShock are unleashed upon the world” towards the simpler pleasures of gaming on the iPad.
Live from the World Series of Poker.
A 1980 profile of Nolan Ryan by Tony Kornheiser from Inside Sports, annotated 30 years later by Michael MacCambridge and Kornheiser. The first story in Grantland’s Director’s Cut series, which “looks back at classic works of sports journalism and gives the writers, athletes, and other figures involved in making the articles an opportunity to reflect on their work and recall some deleted scenes.”
“Radically brilliant. Absurdly ahead of its time. Ridiculously poorly planned.” An oral history of the National Sports Daily.
On LA Noire and the gaming paradoxes presented by pairing nuanced storytelling with a player’s free will.
On witnessing an incredible junior college basketball game 23 years ago in North Dakota.