Michael Jordan graced the cover of SI 49 times. This was his first and Sam Perkins' third. The North Carolina duo led the Tar Heels to the 1982 NCAA Championship, where the young Jordan, who was named ACC Freshman of the Year, hit the winning bucket against Georgetown. It was a no-brainer that the two were the most dominant pair entering the 1983 season.
2 of 25Mickey Pfleger/SI
In February 1989, Pete Rose, who seemed to be a then-shoo-in for the Hall of Fame, vehemently denied ever betting on a Major League game. However, after lawyer John Dowd interviewed many of Rose's associates, the truth came out. And it wasn't pretty.
3 of 25Gregory Heisler/SI
As this cover boldly proclaims, Tony Mandarich was the best offensive line prospect of all time. Unfortunately, he never lived up to the hype and lasted only seven mediocre seasons. He later revealed that his incredible bulk wasn't only due to countless hours in the gym, but also because of steroid use.
4 of 25Walter Iooss Jr./SI
Mary Lou Retton
Her inspiration was Nadia Comaneci, the Romanian gymnast who, as a teenager, landed the first perfect 10 in gymnastics history. But at the 1984 Olympics, Mary Lou Retton cemented her own legacy as she earned perfect scores in both the vault and floor exercise to win the all-around title by a mere five-hundredths of a point.
5 of 25Manny Millan/SI
Even before his first nationally-televised bout, Mike Tyson was already making headlines, and gracing the cover of SI. In his first two years as a professional, "Kid Dynamite" won 26 of his first 28 fights by knockout -- 16 in the first round.
6 of 25Brian Lanker/SI
Lawrence Taylor and Mark Gastineau
Like they are with the Subway Series between the Mets and Yankees, New Yorkers are torn between the Giants and Jets. And in 1986, the two defensive-minded squads put on a show for fans, thanks to Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor and the Jets' Mark Gastineau.
7 of 25Ronald C. Modra/SI
Four years after winning two bronze medals at Los Angeles, Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson became the face of doping in sports when he was stripped of both his 100M world record and 100M gold medal at the Seoul Games.
8 of 25Bill Ballenberg/SI
While at Navy, David Robinson was named the John Wooden and James Naismith award winner. He was also selected by the San Antonio Spurs as the first pick in the NBA Draft. But he would have to wait a couple years before making the leap to the pros, as he had to serve two years in the Navy -- three years short of the norm -- before he could take center court in Texas.
9 of 25John G. Zimmerman/SI
Elle Macpherson rode appearances on the covers of Elle and Sports Illustrated to international fame in the '80s. In all, she appeared on the cover of SI five times, including three consecutive years beginning in 1986.
10 of 25Walter Iooss Jr./SI
After losing an epic five-set championship match to Bjorn Borg at Wimbledon -- a match that included an 18-16 tie-breaker -- McEnroe exacted revenge on the Swede at the U.S. Open, beating Borg in five sets to win his second Slam at Flushing.
11 of 25Jerry Wachter/SI
Joe Theismann had a penchant for making big plays. After the Redskins acquired him in 1974, the star QB led Washington to two Super Bowls, setting several franchise records in the process. Unfortunately, Theismann also had a penchant for running his mouth.
12 of 25Andy Hayt/SI
Bill Russell and Larry Bird
With the new additions (through the draft) of Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish, Larry Bird led the Celtics to a championship in just his second season in the league. Bird won three titles in his career -- not quite as impressive as the 11 Bill Russell managed during his days in Boston.
13 of 25Paul Kennedy/SI
Just two seasons into his NHL career when this issue ran, Wayne Gretzky had already won two Hart Memorial Trophies (MVP), broken Bobby Orr's record for assists in a season, and broken Phil Esposito's record for points in a campaign. Gretzky started the '81-82 season on a tear, too, scoring 50 goals in his first 39 games.
14 of 25Raeanne Rubinstein/SI
Mark Aguirre, Ralph Sampson and Albert King
It had been four years since the NBA's hardship draft rule had been eliminated and players had free reign to enter the draft after graduating from high school. Yet, more and more college players decided to reject the pros and stay on campus anyway. Among them were Maryland senior Albert King, Virginia sophomore Ralph Sampson and DePaul junior Mark Aguirre -- three reasons why the 1980-81 college hoops season was projected to be one of the most exciting yet.
15 of 25Walter Iooss Jr./SI
In the mid 80s, professional wrestling took the nation by storm and few athletes were as recognizable as 6-foot-8, 300 pound Hulk Hogan. This shot marks the only time a pro wrestler has graced the cover of SI.
16 of 25Manny Millan/SI
Just the fifth player to jump from high school to pro basketball, Moses Malone grew into one of the NBA's best big men as a Houston Rocket. After winning his second MVP award with the Rockets, Malone was traded to Philadelphia, where he joined Dr. J and Maurice Cheeks on a squad that went on to win the 1983 Finals. Malone won his third MVP that season, becoming the first player to win back-to-back MVPs with different teams.
17 of 25Jacqueline Duvoisin/SI
By the summer of 1989, Michael Jordan was already on top of the basketball universe. But as this cover demonstrates, M.J. also had an affinity for golf and contemplated a post-NBA career on the links.
18 of 25Lane Stewart/SI
Boston College Point Shaving Scandal
Rocco and Tony Perla thought they had it in the bag -- literally. The two small-time gamblers thought they could use Boston College as the vehicle for a massive point-shaving scheme that would land them thousands of dollars from bettors. However, one of their accomplices, Henry Hill, spilled the beans to SI in an exclusive tell-all.
19 of 25Jerry Wachter/SI
How the times have changed! In March 1985, Mike Schmidt topped the list of baseball moneymakers with an annual salary of $2.13 million. Nearly a quarter-century later, the average annual salary of an MLB player is over $3 million.
20 of 25Manny Millan/SI
In 1985, the NBA instituted the draft lottery, knowing teams would be jockeying for that year's No. 1 pick and the chance to draft Georgetown center Patrick Ewing. Although he never won a championship, Ewing was an 11-time All-Star and was selected as one of the league's 50 greatest players.
21 of 25Manny Millan/SI
After winning the Heisman Trophy, sports fans were wondering whether Georgia RB Herschel Walker would remain in Athens for his senior year or leave early and play professionally in the upstart USFL, which didn't require players to complete four years of college as the NFL did. Walker answered by joining the New Jersey Generals, where he stayed for three seasons before joining the Dallas Cowboys.
22 of 25Marcia Rules/SI
Inside pitching is often a handy tool for a pitcher, brushing back a batter who hovers over the plate. Unfortunately, when those high and tight, 90-mile--per-hour fastballs go off track, the results can be brutal. Just ask Andre Dawson.
23 of 25Lori Grinker/SI
Mike Tyson and Robin Givens
By the summer of 1988, Mike Tyson was the world's best boxer. However, he was making more headlines for his marriage to actress Robin Givens. The couple barely lasted two years, but thanks to this cover and a memorable interview with Barbara Walters, the couple's marriage remains one of the most memorable unions between a sports figure and an actor.
24 of 25Lee Crum/SI
Flashy as he was, Deion Sanders was a sports anomaly, competing in three sports at Florida State and playing professionally in two. In 1989, he was drafted by the NFL's Atlanta Falcons and Major League Baseball's New York Yankees. He played in both leagues, hitting a homerun and scoring a touchdown in the same week -- the only man to do so. Sanders went on to become the first to play in both a World Series and Super Bowl. Now, if that's not "Prime Time," what is?
25 of 25Lane Stewart/SI
Los Angeles Lakers
After his squad beat the Celtics in the 1987 NBA Finals, Lakers' coach Pat Riley guaranteed a repeat in 1988. Led by James Worthy and Magic Johnson, the Lakers edged Joe Dumars, Isiah Thomas and the Pistons in seven games.
You May Like
More More Sports
Sign Up for our Newsletter
Don't get stuck on the sidelines! Sign up to get exclusives, daily highlights, analysis and more—delivered right to your inbox!