by Lang Whitaker

The issue of SLAM that we produce each year just after the Finals is probably the toughest issue we do each year. Because we’re coming off back to back to back to back issues, with very little turnaround time in between, and usually with some kind of special issue squeezed in there, too. (This year was no different with the special issues.) From All-Star until the Finals, we’re on the run, eatin’, non-stop, which doesn’t even account for this here website and all the posts and commotion we generate. Then we get out and cover the Finals all-out, and then the Draft comes right after that. And in between the end of the Finals and the Draft, there’s always one last issue to put together: The Champs issue. After the champs issue, we know we’ve finally got a break coming before we get to our Kicks issue, so we’re literally fiending to finish the issue.

I’m not sure where the tradition began of doing a Champs issue, but we’ve been doing it since I’ve been here. (Actually, we’ve been doing it since well before I was here — since issue 20.) Timing-wise, it’s one of the few issues we can do each year where we can sort of be timely with our cover, and we can celebrate the work of a team, the best team in the NBA.

It’s also always an action photo on the cover, which we rarely do otherwise. Sure, we could find a shot of a guy posing with the trophy or probably even use some shot from a month or a year ago, but we don’t — we go through thousands of pics to find something cool and different that, more than anything, represents the spirit of the Finals. And I think this year, as we always do, we hit it on the head…

And it don’t stop. There’s a lot of great content in the issue that goes way beyond the Celts. We’ve got the annual Dome Shots (photos of the year). The imitable Rus Bradburd caught up with Tim Hardaway (who Rus actually coached in college at UTEP). DeMarco Williams hung out with DeShawn Stevenson, and DeShawn showed us his tattoos and let his mouth rip. The Backboard (last page) is by some guy named Kobe Bryant. There’s tons of cool kicks and gear, the debut of our newest high school diary keeper, a goodbye letter from Mike James, the usual nonsense from the ABA, a pretty ridiculous poster, and a ton of other dope stuff.

Look, I’m not trying to tell you what to do with your money, but if it was me, I’d go out and buy a few copies of SLAM 121. I mean, I’m just saying…