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Retro Magazine RoundUp: Sports Illustrated 1994

It's time once again to explore the pages of old magazines to find the little bits of nostalgia sprinkled throughout, in a series I call Retro Magazine Round-Up. As was revealed in these past articles here and here, I was never much of a sports kid. In fact, the only issues of today's magazine I ever came across were in the waiting area of my childhood barber shop.

But this issue of Sports Illustrated from the week of January 17th, 1994 presents sports from national news and pop culture in such a way that even a geeky kid who preferred Spuds Mackenzie to Spud Webb could recognize the significance. So let's start flipping those pages.

As you can see from the cover above, the top story this week was the brutal knee-bashing of U.S. Olympic figure skater, Nancy Kerrigan. I remember flipping on the TV after school one day and being horrified by the news report showing footage of a woman screaming and crying, "Why?" When I got the rest of the story, it only became more confusing. Was this figure skating or roller derby? This article is so fresh that they still had not made any arrests and as you can see by the sketch artist renderings, were not even close to catching the guy. Even stranger is that Tonya Harding wasn't implicated in the crime in any way, yet this incident went on to become the defining moment of her life in the public eye.

Next up is this awesome ad for the Diet Pepsi Fill The Fridge Sweepstakes. You gotta love that early 90s clip art graphic style. However the real jewel is the cardstock insert mock-up showing a fridge fully stocked with vintage Pepsi products! These can designs take me back to supermarket shopping in the 90s, especially the Crystal Pepsi and the Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi. The latter is significant because I wasn't allowed to drink caffeinated soda as a kid, but talked my Mom into buying a pack of these golden cans just once. It didn't make me a Pepsi fanatic, but as a kid it's the small victories that count. Also, I miss that old NutraSweet logo.

This interview with Patrick Ewing spends most of it's time discussing the fact that the "aloof" NBA All Star hates being interviewed and mostly includes quotes from people who worked with him. Still, it seems like this must have been a big get for the magazine at the time. Of course the most shocking reveal is that Patrick Ewing has never eaten CHICKEN! Never had KFC? No McNuggets, despite  being front and center in the McDonald's promotion of the Dream Team in 1992? I have to imagine this stems from a Marty McFly style aversion to the word chicken and it just sets the big guy off, so people stopped mentioning it around him.

What discussion of Sports Illustrated would be complete without mentioning the Swimsuit Issue? I always thought it was weird that a sports magazine would basically do their own issue of Vogue each year, but who am I to complain? Vendela gets the most attention here in this ad, just 3 years away floating silently in suspended animation as Mr. Freeze's wife in Batman and Robin. My only other connection to yearly tradition was that Marvel Comics used the magazine as inspiration for their own Swimsuit Specials where Storm, She-Hulk and Mary Jane would strike a pose.

Now this is a big one. Remember when Michael Jordan retired from the NBA to pursue, b-b-b-baseball?! Well this Sports Illustrated writer couldn't believe it, that's for sure. They pretty much spend the majority of the article mocking the idea through early Photoshop images of Mike in other sports scenarios like Hockey, Skiing and Soccer. 

It's true that MJ's foray into America's Pastime didn't really work out, but it's hilarious to see how small-minded sports journalists were at the time. Even I knew Bo Jackson and later Deion Sanders were crossover players between Football and Baseball, why is Basketball any different? The mention that he lost a celebrity home run contest to Tom Selleck is pretty hilarious, but what did you expect? The former Magnum, P.I. literally played Mr. Baseball!

Here's an ad that seemed so out of place for the sports fanbase. Prince in Sports Illustrated? R.I.P to the man who gave us "Bat-Dance", but what Football fan was jamming out to "Purple Rain" before a play-off game? Though I guess I should shut my mouth because Prince did have a pretty rockin' in the rain performance during the half-time show at the Super Bowl in 2007. Plus, my best friend is the biggest sports nut I know and was so enamored with the man behind "Little Red Corvette" that he went to a live concert. So I guess what I'm saying is, way to know your audience, SI.

As we close out, why not do it in style with a columnists calling into question Shaquille O'Neal's commitment to the NBA? Basically Shaq is being singled out because of comments about wanting to make movies. As a kid who wore an Orlando Magic hat with no frame of reference for the team, I pretty much ONLY knew Shaq as that Basketball player who acts (and raps). If not for Steel, Kazaam and the Shaq Fu video game, he would have just been another big man on the court. For all the trash talk thrown at Michael Jordan for wanting to switch sports, I'd hate to see the Sports Illustrated review of Space Jam just a few years later.

Well, that's it for this edition of Retro Magazine RoundUp. So tell me, were you a big reader of Sports Illustrated as a kid? Did your family ever get the Football phone free with your subscription? I'm sure you've got a story about the Swimsuit Issue, so sound off below!
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Superman Posted on Jun 15, 2018 at 03:43 PM

I was kind of like you as a kid in that I wasn't all that into sports, so I never read that much of Sports Illustrated. Still, this was a nice look back at the magazine.

Hoju Koolander Posted on May 09, 2018 at 11:58 PM

@pikachulover Nope, never saw a Lakers or Clippers game as a kid. Though Shaq did have action figures made by Kenner, so you would think he could have gotten my allegiance that way. His best bet would have been to make a cartoon show like ProStars.

pikachulover Posted on May 09, 2018 at 08:14 AM

You didn't jump on the Shaq bandwagon when he went to the LA Lakers in 1996?

Hoju Koolander Posted on May 08, 2018 at 02:23 AM

@Vaporman87 They were especially dangerous since the whole reason Rogue wore a bodysuit was because skin to skin contact with her was lethal. Having her pose in a swimsuit was just irresponsible.

Vaporman87 Posted on May 07, 2018 at 10:58 PM

Oh crap! I had all but forgotten the Marvel Illustrated magazine. Talk about comic nerd weirdness... this was it. Weird because those pencil and ink sketches could still elicit higher heartrates in teenagers.

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