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Deion Sanders is Back in Prime Time On the Cover of Sports Illustrated

Inside the Issue: Is Chet Holmgren the future of the NBA?; The funny side of Shohei Ohtani; Surfer Kelly Slater can’t stop and won’t stop; The war for the soul of pickleball; and more

Former two-sport star Deion Sanders is back on the cover of Sports Illustrated for the first time in 25 years. The Hall of Fame cornerback known as “Prime Time” is now also “Coach Prime,” and he’s disrupting the college football landscape as he revitalizes the program at Jackson State University. Jean-Jacques Taylor describes how Sanders has rebuilt Jackson State in less than two years and why Sanders has his sights on a loftier goal: ushering in a new age of success for HBCU (historically black colleges and universities) sports. Also in this issue, Los Angeles Angels players and coaches talk about Shohei Ohtani’s goofball side with Stephanie Apstein; Kelly Slater explains why turning 50 hasn’t cooled his competitive fire; kids of some of the icons of baseball’s golden age bond over their unique upbringings around the game, and more. The issue is on newsstands on June 16, or subscribe to Sports Illustrated today.

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On The Cover

A lot has changed since Sanders’s last appearance on the Sports Illustrated cover on May 26, 1997. As he prepares for his second full season with the revitalized Jackson State University program, Deion Sanders covers the magazine for the sixth time, with son Shedeur (Jackson State’s QB) and five-star recruit Travis Hunter.

July Issue Features

  • Prime’s Time: Two years ago, Deion Sanders uprooted his Hall of Fame life to revive the moribund Jackson State program. Last year the Tigers dominated, Coach Sanders landed the school’s first five-star recruit – and now he’s thinking about more than just a Jackson State renaissance. According to Jean-Jacques Taylor, Coach Prime wants to usher in a new era for all HBCUs and future generations of athletes.

  • Chet Engine: Chet Holmgren is seven feet tall, weighs less than 200 pounds and played all of one year at Gonzaga. But he’ll be one of the top picks in this year’s NBA draft, and senior writer Greg Bishop believes whoever lands the ball-handling, jumper-draining, shot-blocking force may just be drafting the future of basketball.

  • Funnyball: Everyone knows that Shohei Ohtani is the most talented baseball player on the planet. As he grows more comfortable in the major leagues, another strength is beginning to shine through: his sense of humor, by Stephanie Apstein.

  • The Kids Are Alright: Killebrew. Hodges. Martin. Drysdale. They’re some of the biggest names of baseball’s 20th century golden age, and decades later, their children have a unique bond as offspring of MLB royalty. These days, the boys and girls of the Boys of Summer gather, in-person and online, to share their stories of growing up in baseball, as reported by Steve Rushin.

  • Slater Boi: Kelly Slater just turned 50, but the surfing icon has no intention of slowing down. And why should he: in February, he beat an opponent half his age to win a record 8th Pipeline title. Brandon Sneed describes Slater’s plan: consult with other aging GOATs, wrestle his demons and keep stoking his competitive fire until he doesn’t.

  • PickleMania: It’s easy to see why pickleball is America’s fastest-growing sport: it’s addictive and easy to play, whether you’re a converted high-level tennis player or a creaky retiree. Big money has followed that growth in popularity, as have fierce debates over how the sport should be governed. John Walters takes us inside the war for the soul of pickleball.

Also in this issue:

  • For its 150th installment next month, the Open Championship returns to golf’s symbolic home: St. Andrews. Sports Illustrated dips into its photo archive for classic shots of Palmer, Nicklaus, Tiger and more playing the British at the Old Course.
  • Howard Beck on the NBA’s profanity problem. First question: why does the league think it’s a problem?
  • SI Gameplan: Mark Bechtel reviews two new memoirs: Ron Shelton on the making of Bull Durham and Grant Hill on his career highs and lows.
  • Balance of Power: ranking the tightest and most lopsided rivalries in sports.
  • SI Full Frame: A sweet shot of Hall of Famer (and Jackson State star) Walter Payton.

Point After

Sports Illustrated remembers Serena Williams’s first Wimbledon title 20 years ago this month.

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