The likeness of Stephen Curry is center stage on the new Sports Illustrated cover. But who is offstage?

Curry is seen linking arms with LeBron James and Roger Goodell for the magazine’s maverick moment amid ongoing tension between professional athletes and President Donald Trump.

Just behind the two NBA superstars and the NFL commissioner are images of Warriors coach Steve Kerr, A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers — each with Bay Area connections, as well.

However, here are two stark notes: Curry’s central presence and Colin Kaepernick’s complete absence.

“A nation divided; sports united,” reads the cover — but there’s someone missing.

As the people of the United States grapple with a landscape that includes harsh words from Trump and a chorus of rebuttal from its professional athletes, the placement of Curry and the omission of Kaepernick are tough to untangle. Of course, they are separate men with separate viewpoints. Still, they are connected.

After all, Curry wrote “#freekaep” in an Instagram story update while at Levi’s Stadium for a 49ers game.

So it seems pertinent to examine how the two notable Bay Area sports figures were treated. (And it seems a good time to add that, in this reporter’s estimation, Sports Illustrated did Americans a service with this cover).

Curry represents the tying bond on this SI cover. Unlike the two American sports luminaries whose arms he is shown holding, Curry is looking downward. Perhaps he is in deeper consideration. Perhaps the Sports Illustrated team simply chose a shot of Curry that fit to them.

But it is seemingly no accident that Curry, a well-respected and well-liked superstar, is pictured at the center.

On the other hand, Kaepernick is out of the picture.

Some may say Sports Illustrated might have wanted to highlight the Warriors’ un-invitation to the White House rather than the NFL protests in connection with the Kaepernick — regardless of how the magazine, and it’s sister publication Time, have spotlighted the controversial QB in the past.

But then why would Sports Illustrated select Goodell for the cover?

ESPN’s Bomani Jones pondered that question Tuesday morning following the SI cover’s unveiling. His conclusion: Using the commish rather than Kaep is, according to Jones, a “textbook study in co-opting a resistance movement and effectively rendering it useless.” Well, shoot.

Liberal news outlet ThinkProgress.com had a similar issue with Sports Illustrated’s cover choice.

While some might argue that Goodell better represents the NFL’s situation in this, since several teams joined players in making statements against Trump about lashing out at Kaepernick and the league, there’s a clear response to that: Jaguars owner Shad Khan is also on the cover. Shad is another representation of how there is tension not just between the players and the President but also the owners and the President.

So it’s too bad there is tension on this somewhat-monumental SI cover.