Sports Illustrated's cover shot of Kawhi Leonard features him 'merely' getting to the free throw line (Video)

The foul in question. (Getty Images)


The foul in question. (Getty Images)

The attentive minds over at Deadspin noticed something on Wednesday, when Sports Illustrated released an issue commemorating San Antonio’s gorgeous run to the 2014 NBA title. Tom Ley noticed that the Kawhi Leonard play pictured on the cover of SI …

(Courtesy Sports Illustrated)
(Courtesy Sports Illustrated)

… didn’t exactly result in a wallop of a dunk over Chris Andersen’s dome:

(Watch that whole video, if you have time. That truly was, as SI notes, a masterful turn from the San Antonio Spurs, and Kawhi Leonard.)

To Sports Illustrated’s credit – and to Deadspin’s credit, it wasn’t as if they were teeing off on SI, just having a bit of harmless fun as we are – this is nothing new.

Scroll back to hundreds of NBA-related SI covers or search your way through the trillions of NBA photos available online, and you’re presented with scads of shots of star players seemingly just a foot off the ground, ball in the wrong hand, a phalanx of defenders with arms outstretched and ready to block things into the 18th. You view these and wonder, “how in the hell did this shot ever go in?”

It’s because it didn’t go in, and that’s just fine. Because it still makes for a pretty good shot.

One of Deadspin’s comment contributors actually noted that this wasn’t the first time SI went with a “hey great shot” over “this is a representation of an NBA star being successful at his job” with its cover:

(Courtesy Sports Illustrated)
(Courtesy Sports Illustrated)

Sports Illustrated didn’t caption the photo with “Kawhi Leonard throws a field goal down in the face of Chris Andersen,” and they know that anyone who at the very least only watched highlight packages of the 2014 NBA Finals probably remembers that Leonard didn’t serve the Birdman up with a facial during San Antonio’s impressive two-game rout of Miami on its home floor. They just went with a cool shot, mainly because the Spurs really deserve something in .gif form – there are no single frame highlight pics to pick for San Antonio, because every very solid play is preceded by three or four or five or more gorgeous passes.

That technology, as we go to print, is not yet available on magazine covers. For now.

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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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