But the image is stirring up controversy, with some commentators decrying the photo as perpetuating racial stereotypes. James strikes what some see as a gorilla-like pose, baring his teeth, with one hand dribbling a ball and the other around Bundchen's tiny waist.
It's an image some have likened to "" and .
"It conjures up this idea of a dangerous black man," said Tamara Walker, 29, of .
shot the 6-foot-9 NBA star and the 5-foot-11 Brazilian model for the cover and an inside spread. Vogue spokesman Patrick O'Connell said the magazine "sought to celebrate two superstars at the top of their game" for the magazine's annual issue devoted to size and shape.
"We think Lebron James and Gisele Bundchen look beautiful together and we are honored to have them on the cover," he said.
James told The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer he was pleased with the cover, saying he was "just showing a little emotion."
"Everything my name is on is going to be criticized in a good way or bad way," James told the paper. "Who cares what anyone says?"