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Monday, March 8th, 2010 at 12:27 am  |  98 responses

SLAM 137: On Sale Now!

With Kentucky leading the way, SLAM has March Madness (and pre-Draft) fever!

by Ben Osborne/@bosborne17uk-opener

What a difference a decade and a half makes. I still remember attending the 1995 Atlantic 10 Tournament at the Palestra in Philly, cheering on my Colonials of George Washington and booing like hell whenever UMass and Coach John Calipari did anything of note. Cal was slick and successful; I was jealous.

The one-sided beef (obviously Cal didn’t care about some college sophomore cursing at him from the bleachers) abetted somewhat in in ’97-98, when one of my first major responsibilities as a SLAM employee was doing the bulk of the interviews and reporting for Tony G’s classic cover story on my then-beloved Nets for SLAM 25, who were coached by none other than that same John Calipari.

After his Net years (and the one year he worked as an assistant with the Sixers), and some early interactions surrounding DaJuan Wagner (a recruit I covered, knew, and had very high hopes for), I mostly just watched Cal’s years at Memphis from a distance, and with respect. He had brought a moribund program back to the heights of college basketball, and, most relevantly to someone who’s job now involved selling stars, began doing so with the best individual players in the country: Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, etc.

Since Cal got to Kentucky last spring, it’s this last trait that put him so squarely on SLAM’s radar. Yes, having the great Kentucky program amongst the elite is good for college basketball. Yes, Cal’s coaching is inspired. Yes, we’re impressed with any team that can go 29-2 and absolutely roll to a BCS conference championship. And yes, we’re amazed that a college coach can have 1.1-million plus followers on what he calls “The Twitter,” and help lead a Hoops for Haiti fundraiser that raised $1.3 million and generated a thank-you call from President Obama.ukwall

But for the purposes of good old SLAM Magazine, still in the business of printing magazines and needing strong covers to make sure they sell, Cal’s relevance all boils down to the players. And in Eric Bledsoe, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson and especially John Wall (inspiration for the catchy Official Do Da John Wall Video” and our early pick to follow Rose and Reke as NBA Rookie of the Year), man, does he have the players. These are current college stars, future successful pros, and the backbone of a young, electric team that we’ve found as enjoyable to watch as any college outfit in recent memory. Put it all together with an issue that drops the same day college basketball begins a four-week takeover of the basketball landscape (we love the NBA and we eat off the NBA, but come April 6, when “March Madness” will officially be over, there will still be eight days left of the regular season, let alone the full Playoffs) and you’ve got your SLAM 137 cover.

How does Cal get all these players? Well, his personality is dynamic, his success (third-highest winning percentage of active coaches with 10 or more years experience after Roy Williams and Mark Few) speaks for itself, and this run of successful pros has become a self-fulfilling prophesy: the more pros he churns out, the more the most talented high school kids want to play for him. I mean, look at this blog dedicated to UK recruiting: ukrecruiting.bloginky.com/. The Cats could lose all four of the aforementioned players on our cover to this year’s Draft and come back next year with an equally talented roster. It’s amazing.

I go into all of this in much greater detail in the issue, which marks the ever-rare cover story by yours truly. Every month, I write the captions, the editor’s letter, the table of contents, much of NOYZ, many of the headlines (though Lang is an ace on those, too), you know, most of the stuff with no byline. And ukcalipariit’s all good. I love doing that stuff, and we have a tremendous group of writers who frankly can do a better job than me on most stories. But I liked this idea. I like this team. I liked the interviews the guys gave me. I like the pictures Atiba took. And I like my story. I also like the host of other goodies the issue includes (high-flying All-Star pics, features on NBA PGs Steve Nash and Deron Williams, extensive college coverage that includes the cover and an Old-School piece on Loyola Marymount’s stirring Tourney run in 1990).

I think you’ll like it, too. So go buy it.

Final note for the passionate Kentucky fans who have been hungering for this ever since it was first Tweeted about by Cal after our photo shoot and again when he released the cover last Wednesday: The issue, which is out in New York, may not be reach subscribers or newsstands deeper in the country for another week or so. But it’s coming to anywhere that sells SLAM, I promise. And if you aren’t in the mood to go to any store to buy it, or if it sells out at the stores you do try, be sure to visit our back issues department. They will have this issue soon and be able to send it right to your house.

As for those fans who may be making their first visit to SLAMonline and wondering what all the fuss is about, I’ll end with something Coach Cal told me he shared on his radio show a few weeks back: “I said to our fans after we did the cover shoot, some of you people may not know about SLAM, but everybody we recruit knows about SLAM.”

kentuckycoverbig

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  • http://zarky01@yahoo.com Caezar

    dope

  • Ken

    I don’t like it…it doesn’t have that SLAM feel. This looks like an SI cover. And that’s not a good thing.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Ironically enough, Ken, SI did John Wall alone in January (not how we would have, but still), which kind of got our juices flowing to do a group shot with him in it. Sorry you don’t like; I think it’s nice to change the pace.

  • http://www.realcavsfans.com Anton

    I got your idea for the next cover:
    Players: Diesel, Bron, Jamison, Mo.
    Tagline: S.L.A.M.
    S = Shaq
    L = LeBron
    A = Antawn
    M = Mo
    S.L.A.M. Attorneys at Law: Ruling the Courts since 2010.

  • http://N/A Hunter

    Was never expecting to get them on the cover as a group, figured another John Wall shot whenever he goes to the L or something along those lines. Even though this isn’t one of the many amazing covers SLAM has done (ish 114 with kobe was dope!)I’m already in love with it.

    I have to write blogs for my senior english class and I wrote one titled “50 things, places and people i like…”. I had to put my dude Ben Osborne on there or the list wouldn’t have been right.

  • Pic

    yeah not feelin it as much as the past few covers. lookin forward to that jeff green feature though

  • Pic

    you know what this reminds me of? the nets champs by 2001 cover!
    which coincidentally was coached by the same john calipari

  • http://slamonline.com niQ

    I thought you guys were going to use the Jersey that had KentCUKY.

  • PJ

    How does he get all these talented players? How could you not mention his strong connection to World Wide Wes????? thats how he gets these players, not dynamic personalty and good winning percentages. its all uncle wes.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Wait until Jordan Hill becomes the new Carl Landry and the Knicks look stupid for trading yet another prospect. SMH.

  • C-Note

    It’s nice to see players smiling for a change. Too often are players posing looking hard.

  • spit hot fiyah

    has anybody else had the feeling when watching patterson lately that he has become real stiff and looks like he lost a lot of his vertical. i’ve seen him blow a bunch of dunks that should have been made, looks like he has no lift

  • spit hot fiyah

    the kentucky hyperdunks aren’t bad

  • gani

    i actually like seeing smiling faces on the cover of slam. but that’s just me. can’t wait to buy this here in the philippines.

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

    BULLSHTI! kentucky? cal gets two schools on probation and hes still coaching? everyone forgets how he helped rose cheat? why not put a team on the cover that has actually won something, like ku. when ku won the title, they got no love from slam. but kentcuky gets all this coverage for what?

  • http://slamonline BossTerry

    co sign Anton…… I love slam.. been down since ish 1…. Good for John Wall, is there anyone else in the 2010 draft worth talking about??? Thought there was some tough (Matt Harpring type player) that shoulda went last year outta Notere Dame?

  • Vikturus

    Tarzan, because of John Wall ofc.

  • Vikturus

    Must suck for the fifth guy in their starting line-up to not be on the cover.

  • http://slamonline BossTerry

    haha vik- thought the guy in the black suit was the 5th guy.. lol.. the REAL story today is that the Magic beat the Lakers…. what will happen should the meet in the finals again? Barnes did a pretty good job guarding Kobe.. Yes . KB24 got his points but Barnes let him Know its not a walk in the park as long as im guarding you. Lakers used to have a guy like that named rick fox… Now I think they can and will be intemidated.. serves those A.. holes right..

  • James

    Thought it was gonna be Wall solo dolo, but I like this one. He’s gonna get enough solo covers in the future anyway. I do hope you guys are gonna put KD on a cover soon and not part of a 4-way cover thing or next to Greg Oden. If any superstar is deserving right now, it’s him.

  • Yann Blavec

    When was the last time you put college kids on the cover ?

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    @Tarzan, I think we had a Mario Chalmers poster. But really, we wouldn’t do a title tribute issue or anything like that. We’re selling personalities, Draft potential, etc… That KU squad was a little lacking in that regard. @Yann, we did split covers in our 2008 “March Madness” issue with Michael Beasley, Eric Gordon and Derrick Rose in different parts of the country. Was a very successful issue.

  • therighttoremainsalient

    This is the first time a COACH has made the cover and the lead story right, in SLAM?

  • jumpman3224

    Perfect. A lot of times if SLAM has Mamba or LBJ on the cover people b**ch that SLAM only puts superstars on its covers or that its sold out. SLAM doesnt get enough credit for continuing to give publicity to young up and comers.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com/ Moose

    @Ben and Ryne: KentCUKY.

  • Lz – Cphfinest3

    Fresh – like it. Thanks for not going the Kobe-LeBron-Wade-Howard predictable route. Much more interesting.

  • Lee

    John Calipari is “The ultimate coach for today’s game”? I think it’s more along the lines of him just getting really good players. It’s the players who make the coach (e.g. Doc Rivers).

  • underdog

    I love it! It’s been a while since the last NCAA cover, and it’s march! Great, gotta grab this one.

  • md33

    Lee: that’s what he’s saying. It’s about star power in the NCAA, and Calipari is the “ultimate coach” because he gets the star players. You may not agree with the terminology, but the point is relevant, and well made

  • http://slamonline.com Tzvi Twersky

    Cover is great, story is better. Ben killed this this one.

  • Logues

    wouldve been way better with just wall on the cover, but this cover would be real nice if they win the ncaa chip. you guys should start doing ncaa champions covers like u do the nba finals. also, for when you guys do multiple covers, can subscribers please choose which one we get?

  • jarrett

    Yea cant wait to get it but reminds me of a SI cover….
    Would be cool for slam 139 or 140 to have john wall and Evan Turner judgment day cover like oden and Durant had…

  • http://slamonline.com GotHandles?

    All of the players on the cover are lottery picks (Bledsoe next year). Regardless of what you think of Cal, his system showcases lottery bound talent and his players succeed at the next level. The Cover’s contents and idea are perfect. Not much else you can do on a cover with 5 bodies.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    @therighttoremainsilent: yes, Cal is first coach ever on cover. And if you’d told me 15 years ago (when I was a young SLAM reader) that would be the case, I would have been appalled. Like I said, what a difference a decade and a half makes.

  • http://slamonline.com AlbertBarr

    I think it looks dope, Ben. Cant wait till it arrives.

  • Michael

    no one has commented on the tight jersey and ridiculously long shorts combo yet?

  • Charles Kirk

    I guess now all of the Memphis fans such as myself are basically dreaming about what could’ve been. BTW: Derrick Rose all day. John Wall will never be better.

  • Maurice Bobb

    I’m diggin’ the cover. All anyone talks about when it comes to college basketballl is John Wall. And when you look at the caliber of player coming out out of Coach Cal’s system: DRose, Reke, Wall, it makes you want to see what this guy is all about and why he’s able to draw top talent.

  • Maurice Bobb

    I’m diggin’ the cover. All anyone talks about when it comes to college basketball is John Wall. And when you look at the caliber of player coming out out of Coach Cal’s system: DRose, Reke, Wall, it makes you want to see what this guy is all about and why he’s able to draw top talent.

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  • TJ

    The cover is great. Cal is the best at what he does and has Kentucky back on the map. JWall is the truth and I see Cousins tearing it up also.

  • NDP

    Can’t wait til June when Wes is finally legit. (Well…on paper as an agent at least.) A Wes cover to start the season? “THE MOST IMPORTANT MAN IN BASKETBALL”

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  • http://www.slamonline.com Pardeep

    Not feeling it. Should have been just John Wall.

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

    I told you guys about John Wall! Raleigh in the building! LOL @ the fact this video ended up here. Do the John Wall!

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

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgCtoxRJpDo&feature=related the other John Wall song. Yup, their are 2

  • longclaws

    I see a little envy coming our here from fans of other programs.

    UK has been down the past few years. In spite of the fact that the Cats have been down a bit for the past few years, they still remain a true glamor program.

    Sorry, KU fans. Great job SLAM!

  • LA Huey

    Nike needs to loosen up the fit on those jerserys. Nice cover, SLAM.

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

    Jeez some people are gonna b!tch no matter who you put on the cover Ben… moan moan moan. Its ridiculous. I myself dig this cover! And I guess Darius Miller is that 5th guy. I like his game too, and besides, anyone who is the 5th starter on a squad that stacked is going to be strictly fighting for scraps. I feel I got a handle on how Wall and Cousins are gonna turn out (Wall a stud, Cousins could be this years Z-Bo in time)… but I got no idea on Patterson. He probably needs the right situation. I don’t even know where he could end up being drafted.

  • http://aol.com Martin Fenn

    There are sooo many good college teams this year and you can’t really pick a standout. Filling out brackets is gonna be tough. I think Wall and Cousins are gonna go 1-2 in the Draft, they’re so young and dynamic and bring the word “intensity” to a higher level. I agree big time with Michael NZ. All of you need to chill out for real. First off it’s the issue, not the cover, that counts. If the issue’s good, WHO CARES? Second, these guys are just trying to do their job and sell mags and get paid. Can you blame them for that???

  • http://aol.com Martin Fenn

    Plus this is the dopest SPORTS (not just basketball) mag on the market imo.

  • Lebron is greater than Kobe

    @ Anton sick sick idea dude

  • Young C

    @ Anton
    Good idea

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

    Here’s the thing: I’m buying the mag regardless of the cover. I can never understand why people get all bent outta shape about it. and re Cousins going number 2: Evan Turner will have something to say about that.

  • http://slam t.o

    anton is right

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com DP

    Dope but too bad my boys at cuse are going to run the table. Wes johnson needs a cover by himself in my opinion. dude is that raw.

  • Logues

    is it me or does SLAM put Lebrons name on just about every cover? im sure u do it to help sell more mags, but still

  • http://slamonline.com Mo Money Bizzes

    Logues is it me or do you find a reason to complain every cover no matter the cover? Just checking my esee.

  • J

    co sign Anton

  • Joey E.

    you guys see nike’s defected Kentucky jersey? it read “Kentcuky”. Look deeper, “C U KY” See You Kentucky. nice. oh and they say it was a mistake, but it just so happened to be on John Wall’s. yeah sure, a mistake

  • Joe King

    only just got my kobe ish today

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

    Just me or does Coach Cal resemble Bill Simmons on the cover shot?

  • http://slamonline.com oliver

    this is my 1st ish via subsrciption,OMG

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Proud to see it all over NYC today. Also it’s already available for order online. Click here and scroll down to get your copy: http://bit.ly/5o58Ej

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/category/blogs/farmer-jones/ Ryan Jones

    Two thoughts, Ben:
    1. You should’ve gotten Kerber to write the cover story.
    2. “Some of you people may not know about SLAM, but everybody we recruit knows about SLAM.” Did you hear that Jim Calhoun?!

  • http://slamonline.com/ niQ

    @Ben, maybe in another 15 years we’ll see an ACTION SHOT of a coach coaching. LOL

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne
  • JD

    Great 2 finally see u gus givin a cover 2 a coach and a team rather than the boring cycle of Kobe, LeBron,DWade,CP3, Dwight Howard, 1 other guy like Melo or Dwill, and some young guys

  • secretagent0014

    Just tried to go buy this at the local Walgreen’s they had another issue out.

  • Logues

    Mo Money: its just you. my esse

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    @secretagent: May not be out in places other than NY until this weekend or early next week.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    @niQ: Only if MJ becomes a coach

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  • ManOman

    Sikkk.

  • matt

    Why are a lot of the colleges starting to wear the original hyperdunk all of a sudden?

  • Baldy

    I’ve been reading Slam for ten years and haven’t ever looked forward to an ish like this one with the Cats. What’s funny is that it will sell more issues than any other SLAM ish, ever. Big Blue Nation will buy the hell outta this mag…Love it! Take notes, SLAM

  • Crystal

    I think that is a great shot. Gotta love the CATS…GO BIG BLUE

  • Karrim Omer

    Should have been UNC

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  • http://big11mel@yahoo.com Big Mel

    At least its not the drivers license picture like last issue,and please stop putting the Kobe love letters in trash talk.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    @Big Mel: That’s looking like one of best-selling SLAMs ever. I’m just saying…

  • Peter

    I’m disappointed World Wide Wes didn’t take part in the cover.

  • Sean

    Hey who won the Dwade caption? I’ve yet to receive my issue.

  • Twinparadox

    @Karrim Omer: The Headlines to a UNC cover would be way too depressing right now.
    I thought Zen master Phil Jackson would be the first coach to graze the cursed cover of SLAM. Hope this team turns out better than the 2001 Nets SLAM cover team.

  • Logues

    @Twinparadox: i think Karrim Omer was being sarcastic. and SLAM, i gotta be honest i wasnt feeling the cover that much… until i got it in the mail! man its one of the nicest ones you guys have done in awhile, i love classic college covers, and the piece of steve nash is dope, although i was hoping for a nashty cover since i never got his other one. love the piece on greg monroe too. good work SLAM

  • Manute Bogues

    When did basketball jerseys start getting so damn tight? I shouldn’t be able to see John Wall’s nipples.

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  • http://big11mel@yahoo.com Big Mel

    U could have wrote Kobe name on the cover and it would have sold,just didn’t need the Kobe close-up,maybe Slam could go back 2 the in game covers.

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  • jj

    anybody received theres yet???Im still waiting for mines

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  • Austin

    yo anton’s idea is sick. do that SLam

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Anyone still think Kansas should’ve been on this cover instead of Kentucky?

  • Dallas

    Haha good one Ben. Maybe Northern Iowa should be on the cover… Naahhhh

  • http://www.realcavsfans.com Anton

    Can’t spell Kansas without ass.

  • slamadayear

    The cover is kind of blah. It looks like Calipari is standing on a giant dictionary. The Brandon Jennings cover a couple issues back was freaking dope.

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