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Monday, January 4th, 2010 at 5:16 pm  |  86 responses

SLAM 135: On Sale Now!

Brandon Jennings has arrived. You’ve been put on notice.

by Adam Fleischer

Back when my tenure as a SLAM intern was about half a year old, I was given an assignment that brought upon my first real “Oh, this is the kind of dope stuff that comes with being a part of the best basketball mag on earth” experience. We were doing the photo shoot for our annual SLAM All-Americans back in 2008, during the week of the Jordan Brand Classic when they were all in town, and Ben asked me if I wanted to tag along. I had gotten some cool perks like free stuff in the past, but this was my earliest opportunity to cover some big time players and a special event.

From watching some games and highlights during that high school season, I had come to feel that Brandon Jennings had a chance to be That Dude in the class of ’08. His ability, presence, and style each made me a fan, and I figured they would translate to continued success. While at the shoot at a Manhattan hotel on that April day, I saw he and Ben chopping it up for a bit and realized that not only could this kid ball, but he was down to earth, too. Although he didn’t live up to my expectations as dunk champ of the Jordan Jamfest, held later that day, I remained excited to watch as many Arizona Wildcat games as possible the following year.Brandon Jennings

Until that no longer made sense.

As we all know, Jennings chose to head to Europe last year, instead. Thing is, I made that choice, too (although for different reasons that unfortunately didn’t involve me getting paid to play basketball and wear Under Armour). While studying abroad in Madrid last spring, one of the many stops I made away from my home base was Rome. In between sights and food, I got to the chance to watch a very solid performance and talk with Brandon post game after hanging out with his mom during it. I soon realized firsthand what I had observed through Ben almost a year earlier.

I was just one of the many members of the SLAM Family that realized two important things: (1) Brandon Jennings was a cool cat and, (2) he was poised to succeed at the highest level.

And then the season started and he was quickly proving any doubters wrong, while making fans and magazines who had done stories on him as a tenth grader at Dominguez High School (not naming any names) feel good. It was time for some shine.

As the chatter sparked by his 55-point game from just weeks earlier had only slightly subsided, I headed down to Washington, DC in early December to catch the Bucks take on the Wizards and get up with Brandon at a photo shoot at the Georgetown Four Seasons the night before the game. When we spoke at the shoot, he was candid, level headed, friendly, and laid back.

He came in around 9 pm eating pasta (I guess the type and time of dinner from back in Italy stuck with him) with a smile on his face, ready to work. Once things got started, Atiba asked for different movements, expressions, as poses from Brandon and, after each shot, the handful of people in the room circled around the computer to check out the pics as Lil’ Wayne’s latest mixtape, No Ceilings, burst through Atiba’s laptop. Brandon seemed in his element during what I can only imagine is a tedious process, cracking jokes and making sure to blurt out “No Ceilings” in unison with Wayne each time the iPod hit the twenty second mark of “Run This Town” through the speakers.

During backdrop/wardrobe changes and other short breaks, Jennings made clear to me what I had already come to understand. He often reiterated that he was living out his dream by playing in the NBA and there was no one or thing that could subtract from that. He’s a good deal younger than many of his teammates and, like most 20-year-olds, loves to play video games. Unlike most twenty-year-olds, he has a portable XBox with a TV on it that let’s him run some 2K10 even when he’s on the road because, unlike most twenty-year-olds, he actually plays in the NBA, even when the power button is off (he said he plays as the Bucks and tries to imitate what they do in real life as much as possible). He wasn’t letting all the hype and positive press get to him—the same way he wouldn’t let the negative stuff phase him when he was overseas. If your name is always out there, though, the only way to let it not get to you is to straight up avoid it. So that was his play. “People ask me if I read some article or saw highlights on ESPN or heard th-” he cuts himself off. “Nah. I don’t.”

His focus was on winning. Not in the way that every professional athlete is told to tell the media that’s their focus, but in the way that losing actually leaves a burn. So, the following day, when the Bucks fell to the Wiz in the waning seconds, and our coverboy was called for a foul that lead to the game winning free throws, there was definitely some pain. The sizzle had turned to simmer on the Bucks hot start, and it seemed like every night Number 3 was expected to deliver like he was taking on the Warriors. But you gotta have downs to have ups, and you need to tear those muscles in order for them to grow back stronger. It seemed that was one of the many things he was learning. Fielding questions from the media about the game and it’s final possession after the game, Jennings held his head despite trying to stomach a tough L. But this is the NBA. Long season. On To the Next One.

As he continues with the grind of the season, yet to again hover around the half a hundred mark but still helping spearhead Milwaukee in a playoff pursuit, he continues with that determined winning focus. There are probably those that look at box scores and dismiss the double nickel as a fluke, believing Jennings won’t pan out to be great. Then there are those that have actually watched the kid, seen his game, witnessed his demeanor and already know. He’s well on his way.SLAM 135

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  • iheartcoffee

    NICCCEE!

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

    Excellent.

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

    Also, “Mark Asol” has a nice ring to it.

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  • http://www.stonesthrow.com/madlib Michael NZ

    That’s some tidy work by the SLAM designers. And is that Tyreke Evans’ face peeking out in behind there? What the eff is Iversons name doing on there? Please. I mean seriously. So you get a 9.5 out of 10.

  • http://www.bf3ars.blogspot.com bfears

    yessss!!!! this cover is dope. I have been tellin every1 about young money & that he was gone be the surprise rookie and no one believed me! great! cant wait to add this to my collection. thanks slam!

  • andrew

    2 covers and he doesn’t even have a nickname…

  • Daniel

    how long should it take subscribers to get it? and this is a tight follow-up to his cover with rubio

  • http://slamonline.com Jacob J

    I love the cover. Its SICK!!! Brandon Jennings is definately going to run away with the ROY award!

  • Jeronimo

    Great cover! And thanks a lot for doing a piece on Marc Gasol!

  • http://slamonline.com Jacob J

    Also could you please do something on the Pistons? They havent gotten anything in a while. Maybe a Big Ben article? Will Bynum? Rodney Stuckey? All of them are playing great this year and I dont see no reason why they havent gotten some love from SLAM. You still are the best mag out though!!!

  • The Last Kings Fan

    Tyreke Evans is still a better player. I love you Slam, but the Kings are a lot better than everyone else expected and still no love from the national media…

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

    Jacob, 9 straight losses says otherwise. And i’m a Pistons fan.

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

    I’m guessing Tyreke Evans is next. At least I hope he is. This is definitely a dope cover.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Tzvi Twersky

    Ok, Adam. Way to be.
    -Jacob J: Umm…few issues ago, Ben Gordon/Charlie V. feature.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Moose

    I’m excited for the part about Marc Gasol.

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  • http://slamonline.com Adam Fleischer

    Thanks for the kind words, Tzvi.
    And Jacob J, it was ish 132, with Melo on the cover, written by TT himself. Be sure to check it out if you haven’t. We also featured Tyreke Evans in that issue. Before the season even started.

  • james

    that cover is RAW.

  • http://www.stonesthrow.com/madlib Michael NZ

    This will be on the stands in New Zealand in about 2 weeks, but if I subscribed I’d have it it two months. Go figure.

  • LA Huey

    Dope cover…the hardware’s going home with ‘Reke tho

  • http://www.slamonline.com James the Balla

    His shoes in that colour way are FLY!!! Great cover … I have a gut feeling that Reke, Omri, and a few other players from the Kings will be on the next cover!!!
    Fack, I just went back and read the comments … beat me to it TAD!!!

  • http://slamonline.com Jacob J

    WHOOPS! Sorry everyone. I forgot that BG and CV31 were in SLAM 132.

  • http://slamonline.com Brad Long

    I was expecting a split cover between Reke and Young Buck. But if it had to be one I’d take Brandon right now.

  • floridafinest008@aim.com

    Awesome cover, Hope to see Tyreke next. And can we get some Slam love for the Kentucky Wildcats or John Wall in your mag. Seeing my favorite team in your mag would be sweet. You they are deserving.

  • http://www.digitalthread.com AlbertBarr

    Nice cover! I agree with the sentiment that the young guns on the kings or just tyreke should have a cover but think this one is dope and that BJ deserves it. He came to the NBA on his own terms and he is a trailblazer in that sense. SLAM has to rep players with his kind of heart and personality…it is what it is all about.

  • http://astrokidz.blogspot.com T.J.

    I think my prayers are being answered lol A Dope Brandon Jennings cover with a article on the entire Hawks squad! I hope this issue doesn’t dissapoint.

  • alex

    yo……tyreke deserves to be on the cover…not young money, cause tyreke gives you 20,5,5 every night…….b jennings just gives you random azz stats

  • http://slamonline.com niQ

    Dope. Can we expect a Tyreke cover next?

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Moose

    @ James: DON’T FORGET JASON THOMPSON!!! Click my name for a post I JUST wrote about him.

  • floridafinest008@aim.com

    T.J. Does Slam ever disappoint.

  • robb

    Two words: ‘Reke Havoc

  • kevin

    Hey all you people who think jennings should run away with ROY and get a cover well ur wrong! jennings had a great stretch but hasnt improved as the year has progressed his FG% scoring everything has declined with rookies you dont want one 50 point game you want progress and improvement TYREKE EVANS!!! he has been great for sacremento and led them to a suprising year tyreke is the real deal and is a franchise player
    Jennings
    19 points 6 assists 4 rebounds scoring/FG% has gone down each month this year
    Evans
    20 points 5 assists 5 rebounds scoring/FG% has gone up each month this year

  • Joe

    W.O.W. I never thought I”ll see a Bucks player on the cover!

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

    Im not buying another SLAM until Gerald Wallace or Stephen Jackson or Raymond Felton get a article. Notice i said OR. Step to it, SLAM.

  • fizzrocket

    This probably would’ve been better timing back in October…ah well. Sick cover anyway, although the “Marc Asol” bit made me chuckle.

  • Atrain

    YUNGBUCK3 = R.O.Y.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    Don’t sleep on Marc Asol. Dude can play.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    I’m very proud of this. Big thanks to Adam, Brandon, Atiba, Melissa, Stephen and Kris.

  • http://www.stonesthrow.com/madlib Michael NZ

    DWYA WADE!

  • jumpman3224

    Can’t wait to get mine in the mail. I’ve been asking for a Jennings cover for months now. Great work SLAM.

  • slamfan4life

    Wow this is a tad late, he’s totally sucking now

    Get rid of Redd, and hello AI version 2.o!!!

  • http://www.realcavsfans.com Anton

    Needs more Ricky Rubio.

  • J

    @BET: i’m hoping for a story for Crash too. but i’m more high for him getting to the all star.

  • J

    REKE and CASPI on slam 136… you read it here first. lol

  • Jer Boi

    SICK!

  • http://tmz.com Candyman

    Yes! i knew it was gonna be him. You guys always get it right( happy it was not AI in a grizzles uniform) Chris Bosh is playing like the next Timmy D. Gasol is playing… well like the other Gasol. The Hawks came out of no where to be in the top of the East. SLAM please its time to give Steve Nash his cover again. He is playing better than he was when he won MVP. His team is better than when they had the Trix and Joe Johnson. He if you willnt give it to him because of his stats give it to him because he makes his team better. Maybe it can have Dirk and Nash and read Dirty and Nasty!

  • http://slamonline.com niQ

    Since I live in Canada, does this mean I’ll get this Issue 2 weeks late?

  • http://www.realcavsfans.com Anton

    ^You’ll get it around July.

  • Airswade

    Try livin’ in the UK, I got ish 134 last week! Damn!

  • http://myspace.com/weezyleezy337 GametimeWeezy

    Slam…u are the shit

  • http://myspace.com/weezyleezy337 GametimeWeezy

    Slam…u are the sh*t.

  • Hoodsnake

    Try livin in South Africa where you dont get it in stores anymore!

  • STEWBACCA

    Dr.Dre and Dr.J The Two Best Doctors Out..

  • http://www.behindtheback.webeden.co.uk Sam Raphael Chadwick

    that cover looks so good cannot wait to read it

    hopefully we will get it in the UK soon,

    im so lad i subscribe LOL

    Keep up the awsome work SLAM!

  • davidR

    dope cover concept. when will under armour stop teasing us with prototypes and release the shoes?

  • Pingback: Brandon Jennings SLAMS It Down For March 2010!!! « GOSSIBOO

  • derrick

    nice cover, wrong player. purple and silver slam cover with reke would’ve been explosive. jennings shoes are NICE though.

  • Marty McFly

    Jennings will shine for a decade. The man can flat out ball.

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  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Nice cover!
    Also, Dr. Dre is the one of the most overrated rappers/producers ever.

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  • http://www.another48minutes.com Gerard Himself

    Great cover, and what’s in there about Dr. J?

  • Lz – Cphfinest3

    Great cover, good article. Tyreke will win ROY (on pace to be the 4th player with averages of 20, 5, and 5 as a rook, the other 3? try Big O, MJ, and LeBron that’s decent company), but in the long run Brandon could be just as good imo. Love both their games.

  • http://hoopistani.blogspot.com The Hoopistani

    Evans shoudl’ve gotten a cover before jennings

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  • http://www.another48minutes.com Gerard Himself

    luckily you caught Jennings before he rocked the Kid n Play look. He wouldn’t fit on the cover!

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

    This is a VERY guard heavy edition.
    It looks like Jennings has slugs in his hair in the close-up pic haha.

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  • staceylite

    niceeeee

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  • Omar John

    i (L) it
    i NEED 1 of those bad
    mahd cover!!!
    this is gunna be a best seller

  • Omar John

    i (L) it
    i NEED 1 of those bad
    mahd cover!!!
    this is gunna be a best seller

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  • Nicholas Isaac

    yo slam yall really did it this time i just got the cover in a email cant wait to get this one!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • ar

    somebody can tell me whats the model shoes paul pierce is wearing in page 31. and where can i get those amazing kicks.

  • floridafinest008@aim.com

    Hotlanta Hawks story was the shit. Good timing with the win over Phoenix too

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  • http://staticseth.blogspot.com/ Seth

    Finished reading this issue the other night. Enjoyed the Chris Bosh article – dude needs more exposure and I’m sure someone will pay him big money this coming offseason.

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