Fashion

The Story Behind LeBron James' Muhammad Ali Esquire Hoodie

It's not an actual cover, but it did appear in our August 2016 issue.
IMAGE CARL FISCHER
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Just before 9 p.m. Wednesday night I started getting DMs on Instagram. "You guys have to post this pic!" one friend said. It was a photo of LeBron James leaving the hotel on the way to Game 1 of the 2020 NBA Finals. On his hoodie, a photograph of Muhammad Ali catching an arrow, an outtake from Esquire's 1968 cover shoot by Carl Fischer.

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The image appears in cover form with "Esquire" partially obscured by Ali's head, the coverline "The Last Man of Principle" on the bottom left. On the bottom right, the cover reads: "A recently discovered frame from Esquire's iconic April 1968 cover shoot, the year after Muhammad Ali was stripped of his heavyweight title for refusing to fight in Vietnam."

Photo by CARL FISCHER.
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When I saw the photo, I knew it wasn't the August 2016 cover as it says. That was Liev Schrieber, but with a little help from our resident Esquire historian Alex Belth, I remembered this image did run in the August 2016 issue, on the first page of the magazine, and it was indeed mocked up as a cover in all its glory.

The page was a tease of another feature in the issue, a look back on some of Fischer's never-before-seen outtakes from the now-legendary shoot. We have a few of those here, too.

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So, where can you buy the hoodie? Not sure, to be honest. I don't think this was commissioned by our overlords at Hearst for resale at any particular retailer. I could be wrong. I kind of hope I am, and an investigation is ongoing.

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In any case, if you saw the photo of King James on his way to whoop the Miami Heat, and wondered if it was real, now you know.

Photo by ALEX BELTH.
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This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Ben Boskovich
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