ESPN magazine one ups rival Sports Illustrated’s widely popular swimsuit issue by going one step further — publishing it’s second annual nude issue. Phoenix Mercury basketball star Diana Taurasi and New York Knicks captain Amar’e Stoudemire are among the sexy athletes who pose.

The magazine’s second annual Body Issue hits newsstands Oct. 8, and features 45 other star athletes posing in sizzling but tasteful photos showing off their buff, naked physiques. Unlike the SI issue, ESPN steers clear of models in favor of athletes.

Unlike the SI issue, ESPN also features men. Their private parts are covered in all the photos, but you get the idea.

Check Out Their Photos: Click to Enlarge

Taurasi says she enjoyed being part of the special issue, which was about celebrating the human body.

“I am who I am, whether I have clothes on or not,” says Diana. “Doing the shoot was something, and I had fun with it.”

In addition to Taurasi, 28, the 2010 ESPN Body Issue will feature five other cover subjects, including a dozen members of the USA Water Polo Women’s National team.

Stoudemire, U.S. World Cup goalkeeper Tim Howard, PGA Tour golfer Camilo Villegas and Dutch wheelchair tennis player Esther Vergeer all grace covers.

Other athletes featured in this year’s Body Issue include: tennis star Venus Williams, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis; Florida Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez, billiards player Jeanette “The Black Widow” Lee.

You can also see Olympic skier Julia Mancuso, figure skater Evan Lysacek, surfer Kelly Slater, volleyball player Kim Glass, track and field athlete Rachel Yurkovich and ex-NFL running back Herschel Walker.

The first Body Issue last year also featured six cover subjects: tennis star Williams; Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson; NASCAR driver Carl Edwards; mixed martial artist Gina Carano and amputee track star Sarah Reinertsen.

The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, which features more and more topless models every year, is the magazine’s largest selling edition. It has become and institution and pop icon and has launched numerous models to stardom, including Tyra Banks.