November 29, 2022

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Kobe Bryant Makes First Sports Illustrated Cover Appearance

Kobe Bryant is one of the most accomplished players in the history of the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA as a whole. Even during his early days, well before he became a dominant force and consistent playing time was a struggle, there was always something about him.

Kobe always had a star quality and media attention always followed. Once he won the Slam Dunk contest as a rookie things were off and running. He was voted as an All-Star the following year at just 19 years old and just a couple months later he would hit another milestone.

On April 27, 1998, Kobe would make his first appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine. The tagline for the cover was simple: “Does Kobe Have the Magic?”

It was a legitimate question at the time as Kobe had become the third leading scorer on the Lakers, behind Shaquille O’Neal and Eddie Jones, despite starting just one game. The potential was obvious and the Lakers had been looking for a true star perimeter player ever since Magic retired.

Kobe would of course answer that question to the tune of five NBA Championships, 18 All-Star appearances, 15 All-NBA Teams, one regular season MVP, and two Finals MVPS. Many even believe Kobe surpassed Magic as the greatest Laker of all-time.

Throughout his career, Kobe would make 21 total appearances on the Sports Illustrated cover, showing both the good and the bad times. His final appearance came on March 24, 2016, with a special retirement edition just before Bryant’s final game.

But everyone always remembers the first, and Kobe’s first cover asked a simple question. And that was a question that he would give a clear answer to throughout 20 amazing years wearing the purple and gold.

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