Thursday, September 18th, 2008 at 7:59 am  |  59 responses

The SLAM Commandments

Guidelines for Modern Age.

Tying a shoe seems…obvious. It’s natural, or so we think – cross, loop, pull, tighten…done. Some might think composing a piece for SLAMonline is rather intuitive as well – think (hopefully), type, save, send…boom. Simple, right?


The truth is everyone ties ‘em a bit differently, SLAMonline especially.

So I asked some of our most tenured columnists (five guys for whom I have almost too much respect) to give their thoughts on what SLAMonline represents. They made the site what it is today, and I wanted their guidance for future writers. Quickly and honestly, they obliged.

If you’re like me, you’ll bookmark this page, braze it into your brain’s deepest crevice, and return if you ever forget. This is what SLAMonline was, is, and forever will be. But don’t expect to unearth any secrets here. If you’ve hung around long enough, you’ll find the following is as intuitive as tying your shoe. – Ryne Nelson


Dear Newbie,

You want to write for the Basketball Bible’s website. That’s cool. Here are a few things to keep in mind; consider them commandments to obey in order for you to reach your full potential and help us keep getting better…

I. Your job is to entertain and inform. If you don’t have anything new to say, or a unique way to say something obvious, or a story to tell, or something to report from a game that’s interesting, you’re wasting our time and lowering our standard.  Please focus on how true that is, and not on how harsh it sounds.

II. Don’t rush. Read your shit aloud. There’s always a better, more concise way to say what you’re getting at. Never slough off a first draft that you haven’t read out loud and send it in. In fact, pretty much everything you write should be vetted by yourself at least 3-4 times minimum. You might still make a mistake, but at least it won’t be due to laziness.

III. Understand our unique residence in the basketball internets community and strive to improve it. Aside from Mutoni, who reps the blogosphere to the fullest, most of us are caught somewhere in the indefinable Columnist/Writer/Reporter continuum. This gives us access and freedoms that should be taken advantage of. While the best technical basketball bloggers in the world (Marcel, BDL, Fanhouse, T-Hoop, the best independent team blogs, etc.) are great at what they do because they thrive on mixing coherence with speed and precision, if you’re writing for us (Game Notes aside), that shouldn’t be your M.O. Let your words marinate. This is especially important because you’re trying to develop a rapport with our readers. The harder you work, the more they’ll appreciate you. Some of them habitually dole-out compliments like bacon-wrapped scallops at weddings; while that’s mighty swell of them, don’t let the praise completely go to your head.

IV. Love what you’re doing. Writing is fun and enjoyable. If you’re struggling, go find your happy place.

V. If you have a blog that you run through mental brick walls for, and you’re guesting for us, know that we deserve the same respect you give your personal blog. Chances are Lang was doing The Links when you were still in high school, before blogs came to prominence and Gilbert took zaniness to new levels.

VI. If you have yet another list in mind, go find a gun. Proceed to use gun on self.

VII. Writing for the website is no different than writing for the magazine. Just because Bill Simmons can go on for 20,000 words doesn’t mean you should. And please don’t write like you’re a 13-year-old girl sending a text message. You’re writing for the best basketball magazine in the world, not your BFF Jill; capital letters and proper punctuation good, internet abbreviations and careless spelling bad. If you use stats, double-check them. If you have an idea that you think is new, Google it to make sure it actually is a new idea. Good writing is good writing, whether it’s words on a page or pixels on a monitor. Respect the SLAM brand.

VIII. Write what you know and what you want to write, not what you think we would want someone to write. We already have people in-house who can write at length (and well) on LeBron and Kobe. Unless you have a brilliant new angle or some sort of amazing access, focus on telling us something we don’t already know.

IX. Know SLAM history and respect it. To that end, love the game.  And spread our love for the game.

X. Don’t ask what SLAMonline can do for you; ask what you can do for SLAMonline. (Really, we can’t stress enough how important that is.)


Jake Appleman M.D.

The Honorable Russ Bengtson

Myles Brown esq.

Prof. Ryan Jones

Lt. Marcel Mutoni

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  • http://moneybills2cents.blogspot.com/ Money Bill Williams

    aimed at who in particular?

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    Good question. Refer to the first two words after the intro.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Bookmarked twice. Home and work computer.

  • Clockwork


  • andrew

    I wish I was a writer. Something about universities scares me, so I’ll just sell sneakers… *sniff*

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    One of the five respected SLAM writers listed here did an outstanding interview on our collective blog. Don’t be afraid to click my name link to read it. Seriously.

  • http://twentythreenine.blogspot.com Russ Bengtson

    Mmmmmmmmm, bacon-wrapped scallops.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    And it is really great advice to up and coming writers who should feel honored to have their work put out in such a diverse, on point location. Great read.

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    I liked this. Really. Also, do writers get paid for their internet work? I’ve always wondered since we dont pay to use the bible.
    Oh, and regarding III) good stuff. :)

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    Does the magazine care about guys NOT playing in the NBA? Or who never have? I can’t even remember Oscar Schmidt being in even a tiny article, although he is mentioned in some of the articles as a reference point or ‘marker’.

  • Boing Dynasty

    Slam is anti-lists? Does that mean rasheed changed his number to 34?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Boing wins.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    Hursty, SLAM #112 (OJ Mayo/Bentley cover), a big old school feature on Oscar, just a year ago.

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    AH thanks Cub. I’ll read it if I can find it from inside my garage somewhere. Thanks a bundle.

  • Captain America

    Nothing honorable here…yawn.

    Incidentally, John Wooden did shoe lace tying on day 1.

  • http://www.lkz.ch/basket Darksaber

    I’ve been onto you guys since the Shawn Kemp issue (Ryne knows this tidbit) and i am a fanatic of this sport and especially your top league. That being said, i am moving from Europe to Asia in 3 days, to work on a project for the next two years, but i shall NEVER stop reading. Mailing with Ryne the last few weeks have been a fantastic experience, since up till then, i thought you, the roundtable of 5, were unreachable entities, scoffing at us underlings of the orane rock. Let me put it this way…i…want…to….write…for…something for…slamonline. My credentials? Oh i just wrote every newspaper recap for my team last year, and got them published through perseverance. In a country where Basketball is an afterthought. So Ryne, is this an open call for correspondents?

  • http://sdfjkl.com Jukai

    Cool, it’s a bunch of pots calling the kettle black!

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    @Darksaber: This is more ‘proclamation’ than ‘open call.’ That said, always feel free to contact me.

  • Boing Dynasty

    So, you two are dating?

  • http://www.lkz.ch/basket Darksaber

    Aww, Boinger, why, why go there? No need for jealousy, Ryne’s a free soul, i’m sure your time will come. No need to be jealous, luv.

  • Boing Dynasty

    Um, you didnt answer my question.

  • http://www.lkz.ch/basket Darksaber

    As if that was a question worth answering. Get outta here.

  • http://www.mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Myles Brown

    This is going about as well as I expected….

  • http://www.lkz.ch/basket Darksaber

    What did you guys expect, Myles? Enlighten me.

  • KA

    you guys had me up til internets community. internets! where you at?

  • http://www.mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Myles Brown

    Ill be back later. Tell you then.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Earl “E.Sneed” Sneed

    Us new guys with thick skin don’t mind hearing advice from our predecessors, because we know it is need to know info! Translation, go hard or don’t go at all. I’ll take heed. “I guess we forgot what we came for…” -Jay-Z

  • http://www.lkz.ch/basket Darksaber

    Ok then Myles.

  • fluxland

    Thanks, sensei!

    Flux, gakusei.

  • Orlando Woolridge

    Thank you.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    Good stuff, Jake.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com DP

    I need to step my game up.

  • B. Long

    I’m getting this tattooed on my back. Wait, I just realized I can’t read my back. DAMMIT!

  • http://www.freewebs.com/betcats BETCATS

    this article>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  • http://www.hoopsvibe.com/christopher_sells-authorHV106.html chiqo

    ah, the irony of lists.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/prcasey Pete Casey

    Sounds fair. I can deal with that.

    The OCD in me picked up a typo in point number III: “internets community”

    Internet should be singular.

    When will SLAM be expanding so that I could put my editing skills to use?

  • Jake Orangewoman

    i like DIME better.

  • http://myspace.com/bodiebarnett jbn74sb

    My guess is that Slam has been inundated with teenage nitwits wanting to write for the site. As opposed to old nitwits like eboy and myself.

  • http://nbaukfan.blogspot.com/ mat smith

    erm, good points, anyone who hasnt been emailed by ryne is out, and anyone who hasnt been LOL’d is out, oh wait, I did the text message thing, d’oh…. (did I punctuate d’oh correctly or is it a capital D?)

  • http://hoops4life.com overtime

    Brilliant Article

  • fluxland

    Qu’est-ce DIME? Je ne comprend.

  • http://theghostofroyhobbs.blogspot.com Mo Charlo

    Can’t you guys just do the writing so I can read and throw interweb rocks?

  • http://www.lkz.ch/basket Darksaber

    capital D mat, for emphasis smack your forhead when you write it ;-)

  • http://www.lkz.ch/basket Darksaber

    Flux: moi non plus.

  • Lz – Cphfinest3

    Flux; I left you the Ason response (warning it’s long as Manute) on the Marbury to Miami post.

  • http://web.mac.com/roaringred bbaby

    Hey guys thank you for putting this up.Our school newspaper staff is starting its own website and the commandments you set up are great. This will be really useful.

  • Lz – Cphfinest3

    Hehe.. Nice read. Although not all of SLAM’s own articles lives up to these rules, I’ll try my best.

  • http://slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Internetz. Keep it gangsta, Pete.

  • B. Long

    ***WARNING*** Shameless Plug approaching! Anyone who has been blessed with the newest ish needs to flip directly to Myles story on Deron Williams, then turn your eyes immediately to page 34 and read NOYZ. Then proceed to read the rest of the mag front to back and fill out a subscription ticket. In that order.

  • B. Long

    I have to dole out a bacon-wrapped scallop to Ryan for his Cover story too. Well done, Professor.

  • B. Long

    I mean “Farmer” Jones.

  • David

    I notice that the Esteemed Khalid wasn’t consulted. How can I know this is legit?

  • http://slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Hey, thanks. I look forward to reading it myself, when the mag hits central PA sometime next February.

  • B. Long

    I had to ask the Barnes&Noble lady to dig it out from under 1000 copies of Southern Living in the back here in Shreveport, LA.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    2 months in a row and B. Long gets a NOYZ shoutout. Interesting.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    Thanks. I think this was for me…wasn’t it. You want me onboard? I really appreciate the kind offer….but. I’m going to request that I get a max contract upfront, you know I’m worth it becaue I want Russ to get my money first see…But I may or may not be in for a year or so I have an injury I need to get operated on but I’m not mentioning anything about it just yet…as soon as we sign that cheque there though….
    *channeling some agent zero*

  • B. Long

    @E: Everything in Noyz was mine after my intro. That’s the only reason why.

  • http://www.mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Myles Brown

    Thanks B. Havent read it yet myself.

  • Michael

    Thanks for the knowledge yall. As an aspiring sports writer I will definitely reference this a million times.