Jeremy Lin: 8 Better NBA Players Who Never Got a Sports Illustrated Cover

Matt ShetlerCorrespondent IFebruary 22, 2012

Jeremy Lin: 8 Better NBA Players Who Never Got a Sports Illustrated Cover

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    A month ago, very few sports fans knew the name Jeremy Lin.

    Not only has he done the unthinkable on the court, but he's done the unthinkable by gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated for a second consecutive week.

    It's been quite the rise to stardom for Lin. The love on the cover he's received from SI makes him the first athlete to grace back-to-back covers since Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki did the same last summer.

    While Lin has received the love from SI, there are quite a few NBA stars that haven't received the honor yet.

    Here's a look at some better players that have never been on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Total Covers

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    To clarify, we went back through every SI cover, and the player had to be the main cover story to qualify. Regional preview issues that have come out over the last decade didn't count, though, since there are often as many as six different covers for the same issue.

    We also counted players that appeared on the SI cover in college. For instance, Carmelo Anthony appeared on the SI cover twice while at Syracuse, but never in the NBA. That still counts as gracing the cover.

    Here's a rundown.

    Eleven Covers: Kobe Bryant

    Nine Covers: LeBron James

    Six Covers: Tim Duncan

    Four Covers: Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd

    Three Covers: Tyler Hansbrough, Kevin Garnett

    Two Covers: Steve Nash, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Rajon Rondo, Metta World Peace, Ben Wallace, Emeka Okafor, Anthony, Lin

    One Cover: Derrick Rose, Kemba Walker, Jimmer Fredette, Dwight Howard, Mario Chalmers, Kevin Love, Ray Allen, Tony Parker, Corey Brewer, Joakim Noah, J.J. Redick, Amar'e Stoudemire, Richard Hamilton, Jameer Nelson, Kenyon Martin, Vince Carter, Elton Brand, Nazr Mohammed

Deron Williams

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    Williams just had one of his better NBA games against Lin and the Knicks, a 38-point effort in a New Jersey Nets win.

    Despite a career that's seen Williams take Illinois to the NCAA National Championship Game and an NBA career that's seen him make three All-Star teams, as well as two All-NBA Second Teams, Williams has yet to grace the cover of SI.

Chauncey Billups

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    I was actually shocked to find out that throughout his productive 15-year NBA career, Mr. Big Shot has never graced the Sports Illustrated cover despite being a five-time NBA All-Star and a three-time All-NBA selection.

    Even though he was named NBA Finals MVP in 2004, the cover honors went to the Pistons' Richard Hamilton instead.

Chris Bosh

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    If Bosh hasn't graced the SI cover by now, it's going to be a long time before he gets the chance with Wade and James in town.

    The seven-time All-Star has forged a productive NBA career that's seen him average 19.9 PPG and 9.2 RPG, but all that has added up to no SI covers.

Russell Westbrook

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    Westbrook actually was in the background photo on a cover story that featured teammate Kevin Durant, but that cover goes to Durant.

    He's averaging 23.4 PPG on the Western Conference's best team and is a two-time All-Star and All-NBA team member.

    If he keeps playing at this level, it won't be long before Westbrook not only graces the cover of SI, but does so multiple times.

Pau Gasol

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    As long as Bryant and Gasol are together in Los Angeles, the love from Sports Illustrated is going to Bryant, but Gasol has had a career worthy of an SI cover.

    In addition to averaging 18.7 PPG and 9.2 RPG, he's won a pair of NBA titles (2009-10), been named Rookie of the Year (2002), appeared in four All-Star games, as well as being a three-time All-NBA member.

    Maybe if he gets traded, SI will give Gasol the love he probably has earned.

Joe Johnson

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    Johnson's put together a very good 11-year NBA career that's seen him average 17.7 points, make six All-Star teams and sign one ridiculously large contract that was new in itself.

    He doesn't get the notoriety—in part because he hasn't carried the Hawks past the second round of the NBA playoffs—but if he does, there could be a long-awaited SI cover for him.

Manu Ginobili

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    Ginobili's inclusion on this list comes with an asterisk, as he did appear on the cover of a special-order championship edition of SI, but the 10-year NBA vet has never graced the cover of a regular edition of Sports Illustrated.

    He's had a career worthy enough of doing so.

    In the last decade, Ginobili has won three NBA titles, made two All-Star teams, been named Sixth Man of the Year and was named to a pair of All-NBA teams.

Rudy Gay

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    Playing in Memphis probably hurts Gay's popularity nationally, but he's had a very good collegiate and professional basketball career that's seen him average 17.9 PPG in six NBA seasons.

    He didn't play in the Grizzlies' postseason run last season due to injury, but if Memphis can find a way to make another run this year, Gay might finally get the opportunity to grace SI.

Others

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    There have been some other pretty good players compared to Lin that have had good careers to date, but have yet to make a Sports Illustrated cover appearance.

    That group of players includes (but isn't limited to) Stephen Curry, David Lee, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, Kyle Lowry, Monta Ellis, Danny Granger, LaMarcus Aldridge and plenty of other current NBA stars.