5 of the Coolest NBA x GQ Covers of All Time

Maybe living in a pandemic for almost two years has warped our brains in many different ways, but I find myself getting nostalgic about the ‘90s more than ever before. I yearn for the days of Bill Clinton and Al Gore in short shorts, the golden era of The Simpsons, my Monday nights growing up watching the WWF’s Attitude Era and whichever Jerry Springer episode happened to be on when I was up past my curfew, when the most stressful part of my life was raising a Tamagotchi. I picked this 1996 GQ cover because it perfectly captures a particular moment in time, a freeze-frame that explains a lot of ’90s pop culture. You’ve got Michael Jordan, the most famous athlete in the world who somehow squeeze in a year of minor league baseball in between two separate NBA three-peats, Jerry Seinfeld, the front man of the definitive television sitcom of the decade, and Mel Gibson, coming off the success of Braveheart at the time of this cover shoot. Also, in general, my favorite magazine covers feature odd sports and pop culture pairings (the following year, GQ paired Grant Hill with Tom Cruise and David Duchovny; another classic). This one ranks up there.

Dennis Rodman and Rebecca Romjin (1997)

I picked this cover perhaps solely because I still vividly remember a two-year period when Dennis Rodman was the most talked-about basketball player on the planet. From his Demolition Man-inspired hair-do, to his high-profile relationship with Madonna, to his New York Times best-selling autobiography Bad as I Wanna Be, to Double Team with Jean-Claude Van Damme, no one got more press than Rodman (And I haven’t even mentioned him joining the Chicago Bulls, the most popular team in the world at the time, the time he disappeared to Las Vegas with Carmen Electra in the middle of an NBA season, or that other time he showed up on WCW’s Monday Night Nitro during the Finals). His popularity was also reflected on the newsstand. Rodman graced the covers of seemingly every major sports and pop culture publication, including Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, and of course, this 1997 GQ cover with model Rebecca Romjin. Subscribers to GQ received a much racier version which you can find for a fairly reasonable price on eBay these days.

Jeremy LinPaola Kudacki, GQ, November 2012.

Jeremy Lin (2012)

I still remember running to the local bookstore and grabbing every single magazine cover featuring Jeremy Lin in 2012. This GQ cover came a bit after the hype around Linsanity had died down but was just as important nonetheless. Seeing an Asian on the cover of Sports Illustrated (twice!), Time, and GQ reminded me of the power of a magazine cover. An Asian basketball player on the cover of GQ was just such a surreal sight to come across on a newsstand. Jeremy could have bricked his fit and it wouldn’t have mattered.

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