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5/02/2008 02:21:00 PM

Top Five SI Covers of All Time

Larry Bird
Larry Bird was on the cover for Sports Illutrated for the first time in 1977.
Getty Images
By Lang Whitaker, SI.com

You can call me a company man if you like, but since SI.com launched The Vault, the overwhelming collection of every cover and article ever in the magazine, I've spent hours perusing the stacks, reading old stories. I've also loved flipping through the classic SI covers, which both inform and remind. Here are my top five SI covers of all time...

1. This one's personal, but the 1995 cover with Junior Griffey not only captured Griffey in his iconic follow-through, but the issue also featured a fiery letter from a young man in Atlanta who was furious that SI refused to rate Deion Sanders as one of the greatest cornerbacks of all-time.

2. I'll always remember this cover, Kevin Garnett's first, because it made me aware of the media's ability to change expectations. Nobody knew anything about KG when that cover came out. One week later, every NBA team wanted to draft him. Unfortunately for KG, Kevin McHale ended up getting him.

3. He might be known as the Greatest Of All Time, but even Muhammad Ali had a first SI cover. This one, back when he was known as Cassius Clay, just looks awesome.

4. Back in 1987, Brian Bosworth not only flunked a steroid test, he flunked a common sense test for getting this haircut. Luckily, since then, nobody in football takes steroids anymore.

5. Larry Bird's first SI cover came in 1977, as the Indiana State Sycamore arrived with two cheerleaders crouching oddly in front of him. I shudder to think how the blogosphere would react to this pose today.

What's your all-time favorite SI cover? Let us know below...

Lang Whitaker is the executive editor of SLAM magazine and writes daily at SLAMonline.com
posted by SI.com | View comments |

Comments:

Posted: May 2, 2008 5:11 PM   by Anonymous JFJ
I have a top fifteen and they are listed in no particular order.

1. December 14, 1987. It showcases Bo Jackson at his athletic best.

2. October 18, 1993. The perfect picture for the question everyone was asking. We later found out the heartbreaking answer.

3. March 27, 1995. The two word press release that shook up the NBA.

4. December 23, 1991. The Hologram. Quite possibly the greatest SI cover ever.

5. June 25, 2007. Silent Dignity. Sustained Dominance.

6. December 15, 2003. An Officer + a Gentleman = Champions.

7. June 23, 2003. If ever anyone deserved to go out on top, it was this man.

8. June 9, 2003. Proof that the usually stoic Tim Duncan can show emotion. The answer to the question is the same now as it was then: Nobody.

9. June 26, 2005. Tiger Woods wins the U.S. Open by a record 15 strokes. The cover caption says it all.

10. January 10, 1994. A contender's dream finally comes true.

11. November 6, 1995. Sweet Georgia Crown.

12. July 5, 1999. Nice guys can finish first.

13. August 30, 2004. Let's hear it for the girls.

14. February 18, 1991. The greatest team ever assembled.

15. September 24, 2001. Some things are bigger than sports.
Posted: May 3, 2008 10:53 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
As a Detroit Tigers fan, I liked the 1968 cover of Bill Freehan in the All Star catcher's gear. Then in 1984, SI recreated the cover with Lance Parrish.
Posted: May 5, 2008 2:22 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
June 20, 1994 - NHL is Hot, NBA is Not

Although that has changed in recent years, NHL is making a comeback
Posted: May 5, 2008 6:20 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Not only is the position of the cheerleaders with Bird odd, the caption fits right in, "Explosive Larry Bird" hahaha classic to say the least
Posted: May 6, 2008 12:45 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
For me, nothing tops the shot of David Boston upside down after taking a hit from Marcus Ray (November 1997). I was a sophomore at Michigan that year, and seeing that cover was just as great as seeing it live.
Posted: May 6, 2008 1:20 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
03/03/80. No words. Just the US Olympic Hockey team. Captured exactly the pride of a nation at that moment.
Posted: May 7, 2008 7:55 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
No contest...the Buster Douglas cover after knocking out Mike Tyson. Perfect caption: "Rocky Lives". I still get goose bumps over that one.
Posted: May 17, 2008 11:44 AM   by Anonymous Doug Urban
1. April 15, 1974 715 (Hank Aaron)
2. January 21, 2008 Brett Favre in Snow Storm
3. June 22, 1998 The Shot (Michael Jordan)
4. June 19, 1978 Affirmed and Alydar
5. March 3, 1980 Miracle on Ice
6. June 01, 1987 Great Gretzky
7. February 18, 1991 The Dream Team
8. April 16, 2001 Masterpiece (Tiger Woods)
9. July 08, 1968 Ted Williams on the Science of Hitting
10. August 16, 1954 Eddie Mathews Batting
11. October 30, 1989 World Series Earthquake
12. September 11, 1995 Iron Man (Cal Ripken)

Worst CoverJanuary 27, 1997The Missing Links Brett Favre and Mike Holmgren eating sausage links!
IMHO, the best SI cover was from February of 1978 with Sidney Moncrief descending on the basket with the b-ball tucked squarely between his shoulderblades. "High on the Hogs" was the caption. Check it out here: http://www.hognation.net/magpics/021378large.jpg
Posted: May 29, 2008 10:53 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Great cover from the 90's had the Big Bad Bills on it. J. Schrader (Raiders QB) is getting his faced wrenched around
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