Much as his foibles aggravate us at times, our boss Dennis Page has done some pretty genius things. Coming up with SLAM Magazine, for one. Coming up with KICKS Magazine, for another. And placing KICKS in the publishing schedule during the deadest time of the basketball year, for a third. Though our web traffic thankfully indicates otherwise, August tends to be super-quiet on the basketball front.
Putting KICKS out at that time lets us shift our focus to footwear (which we love) and take a little break from the League (which we need). Think about it: We’re living the season from preseason through the Finals. Then we have the Draft Suite and Draft coverage. Then we close our Finals-recap issue. Switching to shoes and getting a little summer vacation time allows us to freshen our minds and get ready for the new season. It also lets us get excited for the new season. And honestly, few new seasons have been more compelling than this one. The Cavs’ moves, the Bulls’ moves, the Hornets’ moves, the Mavs’ moves—we’ll get to all that stuff next month in our NBA preview. This month, we’re celebrating what we’re really hyped up about this year—the rookies! When you talk about guys like Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle, you’re talking about players we’ve been watching and analyzing for years. And sure, some of those Simeon highlight reels were fun to watch, and Kentucky had a nice NCAA Tournament run, but we weren’t watching these players for that stuff—we were watching because we thought it would lead to great things on the NBA level. We had the same questions while watching later bloomers like Joel Embiid, Doug McDermott and Marcus Smart. So, will it lead to great things? As Adam Figman so eloquently explains in his cover story, we can’t wait to find out.
Speaking of Dennis Page, he helped conceive the classic SLAM 15 cover below with the hyped Class of ’96...and he decided a long time ago that 2014 was the time to do it again (yes, there were a couple other group shots we did over the years, but never have we replicated the above so exactly). So, much respect due to DP, as well as Sheena Morales and Joe Amati at the NBA, photographers Nathaniel S. Butler and Tom Medvedich, and Creative Director Melissa Medvedich for making it come together so seamlessly—and you, the reader...especially if you got the reference to 1996 before you even read this.
Besides all the Class of 2014 coverage, this issue, which is showing up in New York today and will be everywhere in the country by next week, also features stories on Dick Barnett, Chauncey Billups (#timing), Alec Burks, Monta Ellis, Jimmy Graham (word to TDdaily.com), Maya Moore and Frank Kaminsky, as well as a comprehensive recap of summer on the high school basketball circuit and our annual college preview. Duke as our predicted champion in said preview is an incredible coincidence. Further proof that the more things change, the more they stay the same.