T-Will on the SI cover (again)

He hasn’t been THE cover guy, but University of Louisville senior Terrence Williams has done something with regard to Sports Illustrated cover appearances that not even Louisville native Muhammad Ali (37 cover appearances) or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (29 covers) or Magic Johnson (22 covers) ever did.

With his appearance in the upper right corner on the current SI cover under the heading, The Best Player on the Best Team That No One is Talking About, Williams has appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated in consecutive weeks.

I couldn’t find any stats on this, but I did a little research of my own (that is far from exhaustive).

Appearing on back-to-back SI covers is, as you might guess, pretty rare. Though in recent years, apparently, it happens far more than it used to. SI used to feature a greater variety of sport on its covers. In addition to the big three, you’d see more outdoor sports, boxing, horse racing, golf.

Here’s a list of others I could find who have been on back-to-back covers (and there undoubtedly are more than these):

— Michael Jordan (who did it eight times, including being the only person I could find on the cover in three straight issues)
— Brett Favre
— Tom Brady
— Michael Phelps
— Lance Armstrong
— Mark McGwire

Jordan, with 49 appearances, has been on the cover more than any athlete. Ali, Abdul-Jabbar and Magic are next in line, followed by Jack Nicklaus (22) and a fast-closing Tiger Woods (21).

Anyway, it’s some good company, and certainly a cool thing for Williams, probably any athletes dream to be on the cover of SI.

If you have some time to kill, SI’s archives section, “The Vault,” is good stuff. You can look at all past covers and articles by clicking here.

SI writer Luke Winn’s piece on Williams is a good one. I haven’t seen it online, but here’s an excerpt. Will post a link if I find one . . .

There is beauty in what Williams has done this season, leading the Cards (25-5, 16-2) to the Big East regular-season title with grace and ebullience. Louisville coach Rick Pitino knows that the two logical candidates to run the offense, 5’10” senior Andre McGee and 6’1″ junior Edgar Sosa, “would rather score than assist, whereas T-Will would rather assist than score,” and that Williams’s court vision is second to none on Louisville’s roster. At his height he can see over perimeter defenders; he can rebound and start fast breaks without the delay of an outlet pass; he can take ball-handling pressure off the guards or simply slide over from the wing and initiate offensive sets.

A handful of other college forwards can do this most notably, Tennessee’s Tyler Smith and LSU’s Garrett Temple but none do it as well as T-Will. It is the role that fits him and fulfills him because, he says, “the feeling I get when I make a pass for an assist is like the one you’d get if you had a baby brother and every time he tried to walk, he fell down, until one time, he finally walked and you were there to see it. That’s the kind of happiness I get from seeing other guys score.”

The last line of Williams’s pregame monologue is a request for all his dead relatives his father, Edgar; his grandparents Mary Jackson and Bobby Perkins; and two cousins to “watch over me as I have fun.” Their names are tattooed on his left arm and concealed by a compression sleeve that he says he wears to keep connected to them, spiritually. Williams may well be the only player to wear a sleeve solely for that reason, but he has always been sartorially idiosyncratic. He often wears custom-made photo T-shirts as tributes to teammates and coaches (his Pitino shirt has a shot of his coach playing point guard at UMass in the early ’70s), and he sometimes shows up for practice wearing two different-colored shoes. At Seattle’s Rainier Beach High he would wear socks emblazoned with childhood icons (from Barney to Big Bird to SpongeBob) during games and carry his books in a Barbie backpack, just to be different. He wore a rotation of Mitchell & Ness throwback basketball jerseys that were in vogue then, but he would add his own curious touch by printing a picture of the player from the Internet and Scotch-taping it over the number on the front.


24 thoughts on “T-Will on the SI cover (again)

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