Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 at 2:57 pm  |  80 responses

Links: The SLAM/NBA College Football All-Stars

It’s in the game…

by Lang Whitaker

I’m on this insane schedule right now. I wake up every morning at 9 and eat oatmeal. (When I went to my doctor to get shots before going to Africa, he secretly took some of my blood to get it all checked out. Everything was fine, but my cholesterol was jacked. So now I can’t eat good food any longer. Oatmeal seven days a week. On the upside, it keeps you regular.)

I go to work, where we’ve been pretty busy of late. We just finished KICKS, and now we’re working on another special issue (yee-uh) and then we’ve got another regular issue of SLAM shipping in less than a month. So there’s always stuff going on there — for instance, I just found out an upcoming photo shoot I’m trying to put together might get disrupted by a Judas Priest/Whitesnake concert.

I come home, eat dinner, spend an hour or two catching up with Wifey, and then I’m back on my grind, working on The Book, which is due in just over a month. I write until 2 or 3 in the morning, then crash and get back at it the next day. On Saturdays and Sundays, I write all day. And so on, and so on, and so on.

My only respite comes each night around midnight. When my eyes get bleary, when my iBook has started to singe my thighs, I shut it down for about half an hour and play a game of college football. I’ve always loved college football, and EA’s NCAA 10 is a great, great game. If I wasn’t more disciplined, I could easily waste a night or a weekend on this thing. Playing college football lets me get my mind off basketball and baseball. Plus it’s a dope game.

One of the coolest additions to NCAA 10 this year is the Teambuilder feature, where you go to an EA website and create a team that’s then available for download in the actual game. People have made all sorts of teams, from hip-hop legends to baseball all-stars. I found a couple of NBA teams, though I thought we could do better. So I created the SLAM Magazine NBA All-Stars. We play in New York City in an open air stadium called The SLAM Dome, with a SLAM logo at midfield and SLAM logos on our helmets.

slamncaaThere were a lot of NBA guys I couldn’t figure out what to do with. Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Tim Duncan — just because some guys are great NBA players, they don’t always project to football. There were also some limitations imposed by EA. For instance, there are only a couple of dozen faces available, which explains why Blake Griffin, a reserve defensive end, doesn’t look anything like Blake Griffin. You also can’t build a player who is taller than 7-1, so I had to fudge Yao’s height. Otherwise, all the heights and weights should be correct. And I made the entire roster freshmen, because I wanted to have as long as possible to play with these guys in dynasty mode.

Finally, I tried to put together a team that could actually go out and play right now and do pretty well. I rated guys as realistically as I could (which explains Monta Ellis’s low injury rating) and did my best to put guys in reasonable positions.

I guess I’m actually more like the GM, but I listed myself as coach because I built this team (with consulting from Tzvi and Ben and our creative director, Melissa, who weighed in on the uniforms and logo).

Let’s unveil the rosters for the initial SLAM Magazine NBA All-Stars…

At QB, I want a guy with speed, experience, poise, leadership. He needs eyes in the back of his head and an ability to make the players around him better. Chris Paul seemed like the obvious answer to me here. Even though he’s small at six feet, he has the intangibles to compensate. CP3′s backup is Derrick Rose, a wildly talented but still raw youngster. I also put Ricky Rubio and Allen Iverson on the roster at QB. Those would be some interesting position meetings.

Finding running backs wasn’t easy. We needed guys who weren’t too tall, so they’d be fast, but also weren’t so small that they’d be easily tackled.

So Dwyane Wade is our starting tailback. How many times have you seen Wade dribble at the top of the key, then somehow weave between three or four defenders and get to the rim untouched? That elusive quality will serve him well as our feature back, plus Wade is strong enough to fall down seven times and get up six, or something like that. D-Wade is backed up by Tony Parker, Baron Davis and Russell Westbrook. (Because the roster was so large and I couldn’t play everyone, I had to redshirt Rodney Stuckey.)

Deron Williams. He’s got the core strength to stay in and pass protect or lead block for Wade. Also, he’s smart enough to know all the plays and adjust to blitzes, etc. Plus, he’s used to being behind Chris Paul. Deron’s backup is going to be Jameer Nelson, as long as his shoulder holds up.

Our starting receivers? Kobe and Bron. They’re both fast, physical and way tall. I also added Vince Carter, though he’s more of a possession receiver. Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis are our burners, and Toney Douglas is in there too, mostly because his brother Harry is a receiver on the Falcons.

I initially had LeBron at tight end, but I felt like it wasn’t a proper utilization of his skills; it was too easy to forget about him there. So I moved Bron to receiver and bumped up Josh Smith and Thaddeus Young to bracket our line. I want guys who will get nasty in there, and I think Josh and Thad can do that. Plus, nobody will outjump either of them in the red zone.

Since CP3 is right-handed, I really need to protect his blindside, so I put Amare Stoudemire at left tackle. Black Jesus has the size and strength to handle any college kids rushing at him, and he has the speed to stop guys from turning the corner. I also took into account Amare’s eye injury. While Amare seems to be recovering well, in a worst case scenario, Bob Whitfield had a tremendous NFL career at left tackle despite being blind in one eye. I put Yao Ming at center, because he’s a center. Greg Oden and Dajuan Blair with bookend Yao at guard. Al Horford will play right tackle, with the ability to be a punishing run blocker.

Our starting offensive line averages 6-11.5 and 271 pounds. They’re also all athletic and versatile enough to run block or pass protect. (Backups on the o-line include Brandon Bass, Andres Nocioni, Kevin Love and Andrea Bargnani.)

You want defense? We’re lining up KG and Dwight on the ends, where they’ll be flying off the line at opposing QBs. Backing them up is a rotation that includes Carlos Boozer and Emeka Okafor. In the center of the line, gumming up the run, are Shaq and Al Jefferson, with Kendrick Perkins and Craig Smith providing relief. Come on, Urban Cryer, just try throwing one of those little dump passes over our line. Every one of these guys requires a double team, so something’s got to give.

Since we’re playing a 4-3, I needed three fast, aggressive linebackers. I went with Carmelo Anthony at MLB, because he’s quick enough to read and react, he’s smart enough to be the captain of the defense, and he’s from B-More and a Ravens fan, so he grew up watching Ray Lewis and those stone-cold defenses. On the outsides I went with Ron Artest and Stephen “Whoo!” Jackson. These two will be relentless coming after QBs and running backs, plus I like having Artest and Whoo! on opposite sides, watching each other’s backs. Because we know they’re good at that. Eric Gordon and Caron Butler fill out the linebacker core.

Nate Robinson and Leandro Barbosa will line up at the corners, each with speed to burn. While Nate is short and teams could try to pick on him, he actually played cornerback in college, so he’ll have the shortest time to adjust. And Barbosa’s actually 6-3, so his size and speed at the corner could be epic. Devin Harris will be our nickelback, and Rajon Rondo is also in the CB crew.

As the quarterback of our defense, Chauncey Billups will line up at free safety. He’s built more like a linebacker, but he’s got the speed to provide help over the top and the smarts to position the rest of the guys. Alongside Billups will be our strong safety, Brandon Roy, who just seems like he’s going to be a big hitter. Hopefully he doesn’t start flopping on the football field as much as he does on the basketball court. Backing these guys up will be Delonte West and Jason Kidd, who obviously isn’t as fast as he used to be but has the veteran savvy to still be in the right place at the right time.

I’ve got Monta Ellis and Nate Robinson slated to be our return men. (Nate actually returned a punt for a touchdown when he was at Washington.) Our placekicker is Steve Nash, converting his soccer skills to football. And for a punter, I couldn’t think of anyone obvious, so I went with Kevin Durant. My thinking is that he probably won’t have to punt much anyway, and besides, I want him around this team, encouraging guys, working hard, staying out of trouble.

So that’s the SLAM Magazine NBA All-Stars. If you want to play NCAA 10 using this team, you can: Just go to the Teambuilder menu and search for either SLAM or NBA or All-Stars and it’s there for you to download, free of charge.

Have at it. And if you run into me and the SLAM NBA All-Stars online, prepare to lose!

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  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    BTW, I ended this post with an exclamation point because I was trying to be like Konate.

  • http://www.basketbrasil.com.br Rubens Borges

    Leandrinho as a CB… I can see it…

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Blinguo

    Can I assume Mr. Ping-Ping = Special Teams coach? When’s the last time we even read anything on Ping-Ping or by Konate? (How about a Ping-Ping screenprint shirt/mousepad in the SLAM cafepress store…)

  • Ken

    Don’t we all want to be like Konate?

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Blinguo

    SLAM Dome as an actual stadium, perfect execution. Gotta be a home field advantage there. How many times are players going to super-tackle target Kobe? Especially hoping for an over the middle cut – blindsided. Worse than Kobe’s declaration about soccer and him being slide tackled by the opposing team all day if that ever happened.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    @Ken: Yes. I mean, Yes!

  • Young Lebron 23

    i would be a geek and actually create this team on a game lol

  • http://slamonline.com/ Tzvi Twersky

    @Young lebron 23 now you don’t have to; Lang took care of that for you.

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    those linebackers look fierce. id disagree with the punter. maybe ak47 or, idk los arroyo? dwade as running back would be so insane, our minds would explode.

  • http://slamonline.com Adam Fleischer

    Can’t wait to cop this game and check out this team. I promise you this, CP3 will be throwing lobs to Bron all day.

  • bbaby

    Let it be known that someone at SLAM has called Dirk great.

  • http://slamonline.com Adam Fleischer

    Lang, what are their attributed like? Did you move all the meters way up so these guys would run shit?

  • Lou

    Lang… fantastic team, just one nitpick: how the heck is CP3 going to throw out of a pocket made by 6’11″ linemen?!?!?! Durantula could see over those guys and still be mobile enough to get the job done, he just might break if someone hit him.

  • http://slamonline.com Tzvi Twersky

    @Lou, height was an issue that was discussed at length (Pun). D Rose is his backup, with a lil more height and mobility.

  • http://lastknickstanding.blogspot.com Bryan

    You gotta get AI some reps for his speed. Plus he played qb already he could smoke the option.

  • Brian

    I don’t imagine Vince Carter being a good possession receiver, don’t they have to go over the middle and stuff?

  • Tyrone Shoelaces

    Good list, although i would’ve had Nene instead of Boozer on d-line, and Deron might be too small for FB, i’d rather take an undersized power forward (Craig Smith) than a ‘tough’ point guard.

  • call me li

    i still feel like it would be difficult for CP3 to pass over an average 6-11, but he does got that vision

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    mr shoelaces has good ideas

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    Um, doesn’t CP3 pass the ball over 6-11 guys every night?

  • TADOne

    Jason Maxiell? Also, doesn’t Rasheed and KG have to be in there somewhere, just for sheer craziness?

  • TADOne

    I also would have included Grant Hill for the simple fact that his pops played in the NFL.

  • Andy

    How bout Corey Maggette at running back, dude could pop a football hell of a lot easier than a basketball.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    KG’s on there.

  • TADOne

    Dang, my bad Lang. I overlooked it.

  • Atrain


  • Atrain


  • http://www.slamomline.com Justin Walsh

    I need to cop this team. Because I get too serious on this game, and I could just imagine using this roster and freaking people out.

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  • Tyler Whitcomb

    Good article, I listened to a Bill Simmons podcast and he talked about another sport (Beach Volleyball) and siad could you imagine Bron and KG in the olympics. That just proves some of the best athletes in the world are NBA players.

  • luv2ball

    I like the RB’s but they are a little tall. Dwade is 6’4″ but he would be a lot like Brandon Jacobs from the giants. I think Marcus Banks would be a good RB too, as well as CPaul.

    Ummmm Glen Davis, Glen Davis, Glen Davis, Glen Davis anyone?

  • pig

    “Plus, he’s used to being behind Chris Paul. ”
    Come on!!!! D-Will is better than chris paul..he just isn’t flashy

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    AI should be starting QB, since he might have had a shot at going to the pros for football. But having CP3 there, no complaints. Well, I just did. But no big complaints.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Ya’ll need to get Big Baby up on one of them lines. For real.

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    4-3. kg shaq dwight nene
    ron melo jack1. thats lethal

  • David

    Reggie Evans needs a position on the o-line. And I think Roy as a safety is a great idea.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    Big Baby is a reserve offensive lineman — so yeah, he’s in the game. I didn’t put Reggie Evans on the team because I didn’t want to deal with personal fouls.

  • California Love

    yo, lang what cfb team do you root for?

  • horsey

    iverson could definitely get some time on defense as well. 5 picks in one game? i’d put him at the free safety slot sometimes to spell billups. seriously, i think iverson and ed reed might be related somewhere along the line…

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Oh, awesome Lang!

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  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Cali Love must be new to the Links. Lang reps the Dawgs all day long, which actually made his screengrab choice odd to me. How could Lang put the SLAM All-Stars against UGA?? Great post.

  • http:///www.realcavsfans.com Anton

    Lang man, Judas Priest is not worth it in their reunion years. Maybe once for the novelty but Rob Halford is so done.

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

    Go for Whitesnake then!

  • The D Train

    Barkley tackled Shaq with the brutal spear tackle…he’s got to be the Defensive Coordinator for sure!

  • The D Train

    to expand: don’t you think that The Chuck Wagon would be a modern-day Buddy Ryan, putting bounties on QB’s and what-not? Who would be the Offensive Coordinator? Don Nelson gets my vote…he’d be running all kinds of crazy direct snaps and Wildcat formation ish…maybe Paul Westphal if Nellie is too loaded off of wine.

  • The D Train

    Paul Westhead, not Westphal. guess I had too much of Nellie’s vino…

  • The D Train

    Paul Westhead, not Westphal. Looks like I’ve had too much of Nellie’s vino…

  • The D Train

    Paul Westhead, not Westphal. Looks like I’ve had too much of Nellie’s vino.

  • David

    three times too much?

  • The D Train

    this site has been giving me mucho problemas lately. multiple postings, non-postings…sorry.

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

    Now I want to go buy this NFL game.

  • chintao

    Like the picks, Lang. About that cholesterol, you might want a second opinion. A good deal of research coming out these days indicates that diet may influence cholesterol levels only slightly. Accordingly, even if you ate nothing but oatmeal, your cholesterol might still be high.

  • http://yahoo.com Logues

    no chris wilcox? dude is jacked, o and wheres mad dog? ha just kiddin

  • http://www.boogiewilliams.com Boing Dynasty aka Free Lester Hudson

    Johnny Flynn?

  • http://www.twitter.com/mansonovic Mansonovic

    I’d have been inclined to but LeBron at full-back, personally. I see him as a Jerome Bettis/Bo Jackson type of running back. Dudes just bouncing off of him.

  • http://www.twitter.com/mansonovic Mansonovic

    *put, not but.

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

    No Udonis at the linebacker or on the D-line? Lang fails.

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

    Plus he wears a mouthgaurd already, so he’s a step up in preparation on most everyone else!!

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


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

    After thinking about it some more, I would have to include Ben Wallace to play offensive or defensive line.

  • German Reignman

    Yeah, and Big Ben wouldn`t even need a helmet …. he`d only have to keep his fro well groomed


    “Psycho T” would be a great tight end.

  • yo son

    mario chalmers is my qb and dwade is my slot reciever i like cp3 at running back

  • donovan

    This is just about the coolest thing I have ever read.

    Darrell Armstrong was a college placekicker.

    Allen Iverson needs to be the QB. YouTube his prep football career. He was insane.

    @Manson, props for the Bo Jackson reference. The best pro-sports athlete of all time, hands down.

  • yo son

    i forgot ai, he is like vick though. i want a pocket passer.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson at the linebackers is too cool.

  • chintao

    Slightly elevated levels of cholesterol indicate a 50% greater risk for alzheimers (NY Times).

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

    Gerald Wallace needs to be a safety. He’s from ‘Bama, and has the prerequisite concussions to boot.

  • tm

    i was expecting to see glen davis on one of the lines, he just seems like a lineman.

  • Johnny

    “Plus, he’s used to being behind Chris Paul. ”

    Dude, Deron owns Chris Paul just look at the head to head.

  • G I I

    that’s pretty cool.

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

    Deron Williams is better than CP3 and Lang is a joke.

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

    Lang Whitaker Posted: Aug.4 at 4:46 pm
    Um, doesn’t CP3 pass the ball over 6-11 guys every night?

    Yea cuz getting the ball past one, maybe 2 7-footers using either lobs OR bounce passes is the same thing as throwing a bomb down-field with perfect precision and timing out of a pocket formed by 7 footers. give me a break.

  • Quail

    To sum up my opinion about this article, are 2 words: Kick Ass!

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    eboy, thats what i was thinkn

  • BKB

    how is steve nash not the punter? pretty obvious…