“The previous covers that we’ve published of LeBron have tended to be more serious and introspective—so I knew this cover had to be lighter, both in tone and mood. This photo of LeBron that Jeffery Salter took shows that genuine moment of relief and enjoyment. Throughout the playoffs, you could see the intensity and the ‘weight of the world’ on LeBron’s face. This cover needed to be the opposite.
We had a several photos to choose from from this shoot. Normally eye contact with the reader is something you strive for. In this case, I purposely chose the one of him gazing at the trophy and not at the reader because this was the moment—what he has been working towards the entire year. It’s an amazing photo and an even better moment.”
–Sports Illustrated creative director Chris Hercik on LeBron James’s 20th cover appearance. The July 1 issue also has a regional cover featuring the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup victory.