Kentucky Basketball Has a Long History With Sports Illustrated’s Cover


Looking back at the history of Kentucky Basketball and wondering about the (cover relationship) with Kentucky and Sports Illustrated magazine. I own a few of these magazines myself, but how many Sports Illustrated magazines has Kentucky been on the cover? What college basketball team is on the cover the most? Who was the first player or players from Kentucky to be gifted that honor? I have questions.


Kentucky has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated 21 times, 4 of those covers are Commemorative Issues. There are 7 Issues that are Regional Issues, that are not counted in that 21, and there is 1 cover that Sports Illustrated doesn’t recognize today as the first Issue. That one Issue was the very first Sports Illustrated Issue, in 1949 with Ralph Beard on the cover. The reason is that the company was owed by Dell at that time, in a time of a lot of sports publications, so in the beginning it was short lived. Dell then sold the rights to the name Sports Illustrated to Henry Luce of Time-Life Magazine. Sports Illustrated was revived and recognizes the August 16, 1954 Issue as the very first Sports Illustrated today. If you have a copy of that Ralph Beard, Dell series Sports Illustrated Issue, you have a very nice collectable.



Jamal Mashburn was set to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated February 19, 1990, but Mike Tyson getting knocked out by Buster Douglas interrupted that.


There are 262 Sports Illustrated covers for college basketball. Kentucky (21), UNC (21), Duke (22), Kansas (20), Uconn (15), UCLA (14), Indiana (11), these are the leaders with the most covers.


The last cover that Kentucky was on was April 6, 2015 which was the night of the championship game in 2015, was Kentucky jinxed? Or is the Sports Illustrated jinx just an urban legend?


I can see this years Kentucky Wildcats basketball team, or at least one of their star players making the cover(s) at some point this year. I am hoping it is at the very end of the year after the Championship! Do you have a favorite Kentucky Sports Illustrated cover? Mine would have to be Anthony Davis, “Block Party”.


Sports Illustrated

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