Like any past-its-prime institution that's still doing solid enough work on a regular basis to necessitate constant drives for attention, Sports Illustrated has become impressively skilled at calling attention to itself. (When's the last time you even remember noticing who was on the cover of ESPN: The Magazine?) Whether it's Kate Upton's ubiquity, Brad Pitt in an A's cap, or a cover about its own covers, SI has always understood the power of its own real estate. Which is why it's amazing, really, that Jeremy Lin is going to appear on the SI cover for the second consecutive week.
The Lin story has gone huge and global, obviously, but it's still sort of astounding that Lin could appear on two straight covers playing for a team that's a game under .500. And it's particularly crazy when you compare Lin to legendary characters in New York sports history.
Using SI's handy SI Covers search function, you can actually see which players from which teams have made the covers throughout history. With this week's cover, Lin becomes only the second Knick to make the cover twice: Patrick Ewing made it four times. Other Knicks cover subjects, all of whom just made it once: Dave Debusschere, Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Marvin Webster, Bernard King, John Starks, and Marcus Camby. Last week, Lin became the first Knick to make the cover since June 1999. This week, he becomes the first to make it since last week.
Carmelo Anthony, if you're wondering, has been on the SI cover three times, twice as a Nugget and once as a member of the Syracuse Orangemen. Amar'e Stoudemire was on once, as a Phoenix Sun.
How about other sports? Let's take a gander, with some listings of all-time covers while wearing a New York uniform. (We are not counting special issues like end-of-season championship retrospectives.) Let's just say Lin is in some rarified air.
Oliver Perez (!)
So, what have we learned? Jeremy Lin is a bigger New York icon than Dave Winfield, Casey Stengel, Phil Simms, Mike Piazza, Whitey Ford, and Tino Martinez. And Jeff Weaver and Oliver Perez were on the cover of Sports Illustrated. And MAN has Derek Jeter been on that cover a lot.