The Top 5 ESPN The Magazine Body Issue NBA Covers

ESPN announced their new body issue today, and the “Manimal” Kenneth Faried will grace this year’s iteration sans clothes. Since NBA players have been prominently featured in ESPN the Magazine Body Issue’s in year’s past, we thought we’d rank the top NBA appearances draped in nothing but their birthday suits. What we found may surprise you: it’s cursed.

First, let’s qualify this by saying we’re only going as far back as 2009. That’s the year Dwight Howard, yes—that Dwight—was on the cover. We’re pretty sure the entire city of Los Angeles would boycott the issue if that were the case this year. Dwight’s hijinks since the 2009 season earns him the bottom spot on our list.

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5. Dwight Howard
We’re not saying that Dwight’s torso isn’t chiseled from granite procured from the fountains of Hippocrene, but we’re also not saying that he wasn’t one-upped in the years since he made his appearance in 2009. Plus, the whole Orlando Magic hostage situation last summer and this year’s free agency run-around, doesn’t engender a lot of fan sympathy for Dwight these days. Could this be a curse?

4. Blake Griffin
The Los Angeles Clippers had quite the offseason this year, acquiring coach Doc Rivers from the Boston Celtics and signing free agent Chris Paul to a max deal. But it probably wasn’t as exciting as Blake Griffin getting into his skivvies, or a thong, for the 2011 ESPN the Magazine Body Issue. If he could improve on his ROY season—which came right before his appearance in the Body Issue—maybe he’d be ranked higher. But Griffin’s numbers have tapered off after that magical 2010/11 season. The curse of the body issue?

3. Tyson Chandler
Last summer, Tyson was coming off a season that saw him win the NBA’s 2012 Defensive Player of the Year award after signing a four-year $47 million contract with the Knicks as a free agent. This came after serving as the defensive and rebounding anchor on the 2011 Dallas Mavericks title team. So being asked to grace the cover of the 2012 ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue, was just a cherry on top of his remarkable year. Unfortunately, Tyson battled injuries and was largely ineffective against the Pacers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals this year. The curse of the ESPN the Mag Body Issue strikes again!

2. Amar’e Stoudemire
Amar’e Stoudemire had just completed his last season with the Phoenix Suns in the summer of 2010, and was about to sign a five-year $100 million deal to play for the Knicks after they lost out on the Chris Bosh and LeBron James sweepstakes in that year’s star-studded free agency market. He went on to have a dominant first half of the season, even garnering some MVP talk, before a second half swoon after then-coach Mike D’Antoni played him and his surgically repaired knee into the ground. He’s never really been the same since, especially after New York gutted their roster to acquire Carmelo Anthony later in his first year for New York. But Amare’s first half dominance, not to mention his brave decision to bare all, has him in the number two spot.

1. Kenneth Faried
We should note that John Wall also appears in this year’s ESPN the Magazine Body Issue, but it’s the Manimal who gets the cover. With his flowing dreadlocks jouncing up and down as he bounds towards another offensive rebound for the Denver Nuggets, it makes sense ESPN would put his tresses front-and-center for their 2013 Body Issue. The elongated hair makes for the perfect coverup for the photo shoot too (just ask SI Swimsuit models), we just hope Faried (and Wall) continue to improve this year and break the pseudo-curse of ESPN the Magazine’s Body Issue.

What do you think?

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