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Under the setting Florida sun, just weeks before his fifth All-Star Game, Dwyane Wade stepped outside of the American Airlines arena to pose for this shot. Kids voices across the water could be faintly heard behind the snapping of Atiba Jefferson’s shutter and the flashing of the camera’s lights. Soft waves foamed against the pier as the crew quickly made use of the waning hours. Everyone had done this before; they were moving with a smooth economy. Wade breathed in the fresh Bay air with comfort. His third SLAM solo cover, he knew, would be a the best yet. He thought to himself what the headline would be–”Flashpoint,” which ran on the cover of Ish 87, was his favorite on any publication. Ever.

It was a perfect evening in one of the perfect cities in America. If there’s such thing as a SLAM curse, it wouldn’t happen this month, this year, he knew. After the lights and the cameras and the equipment were all stowed away, Wade took a deep breath… and went on to win yet another Player of the Month. — Ryne Nelson