A new-look LA Lakers, Championship Manager and more of the week's best sportswriting

Enjoy some of our favourite reads from the last week.

1. Most people have a vague, general idea of the life of an intercounty manager. Some liken it to being the person in charge of an SME, just without the pay (ahem, in most cases, cough, cough). Others regard it as being a bit like being a school principal, except it’s one where every kid’s homework marks are read out on the national news on a Sunday night. But essentially, unless you’ve done it, nobody really gets it.

In The Irish Times, Malachy Clerkin talks to Davy Burke and Ryan McMenamin about the all-consuming nature of life as an intercounty manager.

2. CM 01-02 was as balanced as a finely-crafted sword. Its mechanics were simple; you could play a match in five minutes, a season in six hours, a full career in a month. And the fact that there wasn’t any football action to watch didn’t diminish the game at all. If anything, it enhanced the experience. Your mind happily filled in the gaps for you, painting pictures of ferocious shots, incredible saves and, very, very rarely, your stadium being shut down by over-officious health and safety workers.

Iain Macintosh revisits one of the greatest computer games any of us have ever played, Championship Manager 2001-02, for The Athletic. (€)

3. Bridge has so many moving parts that cheating can be both easy to do and hard to detect. Good poker players watch for “tells”—such as tics, twitches, and nervous gestures—from the other players at the table. Bridge players do the same, but within narrow limits. If one of my opponents hesitates before making a bid or playing a card, I’m allowed to draw inferences; if my partner does, I’m not. Perhaps the oldest form of cheating in bridge is “coffeehousing,” which consists of attempting to fool an opponent through deceptive timing, misleading movements, and the like—forms of bluffing that are standard and unpenalized in poker. The ideal bridge player would always play at the same tempo and with the same inscrutable facial expression.

For The New Yorker, David Owen looks at bridge’s long, complicated history with the issue of cheating, after 30 teams refused to compete in a recent tournament.

4. Sugrue had drawn a slightly later start time and he playfully threatened that he would easily catch up with McCarthy to finally reconnect in person. Instead, McCarthy decided to loiter at the start line, delaying his run in order to complete the entire course with his good friend.

“We were saying to each other that if we had organised to meet up for a beer, we wouldn’t have spent four or five hours together like that,” laughed Sugrue as he recapped his 11th marathon for me on Tuesday evening.

It had been billed as a renaissance day in Boston where the 125th chapter of their beloved marathon went off without a hitch and with plenty of the joy that has always defined it.

Monday was as close to perfect as it could possibly get in that sports obsessed town.

John Riordan on the return of the Boston Marathon earlier this week, for The Irish Examiner.

5.“Cut, Russ!” James barks, with just a bit more urgency in his voice.

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Westbrook runs from the top of the key to the right wing, replacing the spot James was just in, before James goes silent and flips the switch from coach on the floor back to being a player. James sprints from one wing to the other and gets the ball from Davis.

Davis sets James a screen that allows him to dribble back toward the middle of the court, but James chooses to drive left. Kent Bazemore defends him and contains him enough to thwart a baseline path right to the rim, but it doesn’t matter. James fakes a spin move to the paint, picks up his dribble and shoots a teardrop fadeaway over Bazemore’s outstretched arm that falls through the net.

“Good s—, LB! Good s—, LB!” Davis yells as they clap hands on their way back down the floor. In this moment, nothing about the team feels old. It is new. It is fresh. It is engaged.

ESPN’S Dave McMenamin takes a look at the LA Lakers’ new star-studded roster. 

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