Larry Bird was still a relative no-name when he appeared on the SI Cover for the first time. He would go onto grace the cover 14 more times in his career as a player, coach and executive.
2 of 25Larry Spangler Productions
Never one to shy away from the spotlight, Broadway Joe Namath had trouble turning down acting roles after his NFL days ended. Aside from appearances on TV shows like 'The A-Team', 'The Love Boat' and 'Alf', Namath also starred in the 1971 movie 'The Last Rebel.' IMDB users give the 1979 film 3.2 (out of 10) stars.
3 of 25Lane Stewart/SI
This June 1977 cover of Mark Fidrych marks the first time Big Bird -- or any 'Sesame Street' character, for that matter -- appeared on an SI Cover.
4 of 25Lane Stewart/SI
Magic Johnson appears on 22 covers, but none as unique as his first one, in which the 6-foot-9 Michigan State forward is shooting (and what looks like missing) a layup in full tuxedo and top hat.
5 of 25Neil Leifer/SI
Muhammad Ali, Don King and Joe Frazier
The third and final bout between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier -- better known as The Thrilla in Manilla -- was marketed and broadcast worldwide by Don King. After the duo's first two bouts went 15 grueling rounds (each fighter winning one), the final bout ended in the 14th with Ali winning by TKO.
6 of 25Neil Leifer/SI
In the middle of an All-Star season, Tony Conigliaro was hit by a pitch that changed the young slugger's life. Jack Hamilton's fastball broke Conigliaro's cheek and severely damaged his retina, forcing the outfielder to miss the 1968 season. In this SI cover story, he recounts the injury and his comeback.
7 of 25John Iacono/SI
After wearing out his welcome in Philadelphia, St. Louis and Los Angeles, Dick Allen settled in with the White Sox in 1972. Under Chuck Tanner's low-key managerial style, Allen flourished, hitting 37 home runs, driving in 113 runs and leading the Sox to a surprise second-place finish in an MVP season. And as this photo indicates, he wasn't afraid to light up a mid-game cigarette either.
8 of 25John D. Hanlon/SI
After a trade from the ABA's Virginia Squires, Julius Erving not only helped establish the Nets as one of the league's better clubs, but also elevated the status of the ABA, eventually leading to the merger with the NBA. In his first season with the Nets, Erving led the club to a championship.
9 of 25Neil Leifer/SI
A Hall of Famer and one of the greatest linebackers of all time, Dick Butkus had his reputation as the most feared man in football sealed by this SI cover. During the 1970 season, Butkus recorded 132 tackles, three interceptions and recovered two fumbles.
10 of 25Lane Stewart/SI
Before a gambling scandal ended his baseball career in 1989, Pete Rose was among the game's brightest stars and recipient of the 1975 Sportsman of the Year Award.
11 of 25Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
One of the top box office draws of the '60s and '70s, Steve McQueen was a car and motorcycle enthusiast who performed many of his own stunts -- especially the driving ones. An inductee into the Off-Road Sports Hall of Fame, McQueen is pictured here atop a Husqvarna dirt bike.
12 of 25Steve Schapiro/Sygma
Charles White and Billy Sims
As the 1979 college football season began, the Heisman was a two-man race between USC's Charles White and Oklahoma's Billy Simms. By the end of the season, White, who averaged 194.1 rushing yards per game, was the clear winner, earning 1,695 Heisman votes compared to runner-up Sims, who received 773.
13 of 25Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
Bill Walton, Kareem Abdul Jabbar
After winning three Naismith Awards at UCLA, Bill Walton arrived in Portland as the savior of the Trailblazers franchise. Big Red was injured for much of his first two years in the league, but led the Blazers past Kareem Abdul Jabbar and the Lakers in the conference finals, and to an NBA championship in 1977.
14 of 25Neil Leifer/SI
Hank Aaron leapfrogged Babe Ruth and became the all-time home run king in April 1974 with a round-tripper against the Dodgers' Al Downing. One of the best-known numbers in sports, "715" was all it took to mark the occasion.
15 of 25Tony Triolo/SI
Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert
Four months before they were to be married, Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert won singles titles at Wimbledon. The pair went on to win 22 more grand slam titles, but the romance fizzled soon after this cover hit newsstands.
16 of 25Walter Iooss Jr./SI
It's tough to pick just one swimsuit cover to represent an entire decade, but Christie Brinkley's 1979 cover from the Seychelles does a pretty good job.
17 of 25Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
It took 36 years for someone to break the record Mark Spitz set in the pool at Munich in 1972: seven gold medals in one Olympic Games. The forerunner to Michael Phelps, Spitz is one of only five Olympians ever to win nine or more gold medals.
18 of 25Irving Penn/SI
Dave Cowens and Julius Erving
The landscape of professional basketball changed forever in 1976, when four teams from the recently disbanded ABA joined the NBA. No star was bigger than Julius Erving, seen here posing with Celtic star and defending NBA champion Dave Cowens.
19 of 25Lane Stewart/SI
Sir Lancelot of Barvan
20 of 25Neil Leifer/SI
Often credited as the inspiration for the character Rocky Balboa, Wepner went 15 rounds with Muhammad Ali in 1975, even knocking down the champ in the ninth round. Wepner went to his corner and said to his manager, "Hey, I knocked him down." His manager shot back: "Yeah, but he looks really pissed off now."
21 of 25Neil Leifer/SI
Frank Shorter, Leonid Mikitenko
A star distance runner at Yale, Frank Shorter notched one of the biggest upsets of the 1972 Olympics, stunning the Soviet Union's Leonid Mikitenko to win the marathon gold.
22 of 25Neil Leifer/SI
In his March 1973 bout with Muhammad Ali, Ken Norton connected with a straight right that broke the champ's jaw. Ali fought another 10 rounds after the punch, and lost a narrow decision and his belt to the former Marine.
23 of 25Raeanne Rubenstein/SI
A quarter century before Alex Rodriguez signed a $250 million contract and the term "Evil Empire" referred only to 'Star Wars,' there was a general concern that greed was ruining sports. Over 30 years later, sports are as strong as ever ... and fans still are concerned money is ruining the games they love.
24 of 25John Haynes/SI
The Changing Room
The run only lasted five months and 192 performances, but in March 1973, The Changing Room -- a play about a North England rugby team -- made its way to Broadway. Seemed like a good idea at the time ...
25 of 25Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
After a successful rookie season with the Steelers, Rocky Bleier was drafted into the U.S. Army and shipped out to Vietnam. As a member of the 196th Light Infantry Brigade, he earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. After recovering from his injuries, he returned to the Steelers, playing for four Super Bowl-winning teams. SI chronicled his journey in the June 9, 1975, issue.
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