COLLEGE BASKETBALL IS HERE: Check Out The Evolution Of Sports Illustrated's College Basketball Previews

Michael Jordan SI Cover


The college basketball season got underway last night with a trio of games at Arizona, St. John’s, and Mississippi State.One of the grand traditions of college basketball is the annual Sports Illustrated “College Basketball Preview” issue. In the days before the internet and wall-to-wall coverage, this issue was often our first glimpse of the college basketball season and whether my Florida Gators would be any good that season.

And with this issue came many of Sports Illustrated’s most iconic covers. On the next few pages, we will take a walk through more than 50 years of College Basketball Preview covers and take another glimpse at some of the best (and worst) the magazine had to offer…

The first preview issue in 1957 was rather uninspiring

And didn't change much in 1958

in 1959 they tried something a bit more artsy

But not nearly as artsy as 1960

1961 saw the use of marbles to illustrate an evolutionary offence

In 1962 Kentucky's Cotton Nash was the first player featured on the cover of a preview issue

Former Senator Bill Bradley was on the cover in 1964

SI went with a very bland look in 1965

And in a sign og things not-to-come, SI proposed 12-foot baskets in 1967

The 1968 cover would get an F in design class

Nice job in 1969 capturing Pistol Pete's facial expression and his frumpy socks

1973 featured David Thompson, one of the greatest college basketball players ever

Meanwhile, 1974 brought us mascots

Larry Bird's coming out party may have been this 1977 cover

The tuxedo was a fitting for Magic Johnson in this pre-Showtime 1978 cover

A patriotic 1980?

In 1981 this UNC team would go on to win the national championship with Michael Jordan who was not on the cover

Sexy Ralph Sampson gets his second preview cover in 1982

In 1983, this was the first of 57 SI covers for Michael Jordan

The 1984 cover featured Ronald Reagan? Sure, why not?

1985 saw Cheryl Miller, the first female player (there had been cheerleaders on other covers)

In 1986, it was David Robinson in his other uniform

Nothing says basketball like cowboy boots and a 10-gallon hat (1987)

In 1990, this cover probably should have raised some red flags

Christian Laettner and Duke would go on to win their second straight title after this 1991 cover

In 1994 SI added to the (over)-hype of Felipe Lopez with this cover

In 1997 the Cameron Crazies took centre stage

In 2000, Shane Battier's dunk created a lopsided cover

Luke Walton got his first cover in 2002 after his father Bill graced the cover 14 times

In 2003, UConn got double-billing, and both went on to win the national title

In 2006, SI started using regional covers, which likely boosts sales, but leads to awful, unoriginal covers

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