Originally published in SLAM 8

The 6th Man: “The doctor will see you now.”

Those six words speak volumes about how my offseason has been going. You see, I’ve been-ouch-getting such throbbing headaches lately, Advil’s stock has-ouch-jumped three points in two months. It’s bad enough that my Knicks were finally-ouch-beaten by a deserving Indiana pacer team, and our coach snuck out of town like New York coaches do from time to time, but now I’ve had to deal with something even more terrifying than-ouch-sitting next to Bobby Knight on a crowded airplane.

A lockout.

Unbelievable, I know. The fact that as I-ouch-write this, the players are still brawling amongst themselves, brother against brother, unable to bring their own house in order before-ouch-even worrying about the owners. Sheer lunacy is-ouch-putting it mildly.

Now I’m not going to get into the particulars of-ouch-the dispute, mostly because the issues are so confusing, so complicated that I’m fumbling with a child-proof safety cap as we speak. But let me say this: If everyone stopped-ouch-trying to protect their own interests and thought for a millisecond about a sport as fragile as baseball or hockey, then the integrity of the season would be-ouch-safe and sound.

Despite this madness, we’ve put together our best issue yet. Besides the cover story on Penny Hardaway (page 38), we’ve decided to give-ouch-Reggie Miller-ouch-credit as-ouch-one of-ouch-the best players-ouch-in the game. Check out page 32. We’re also finally getting to Cedric Ceballos, Mitch Richmond, Jalen Rose, Muggsy Bogues, Time Duncan, plus a bunch more real players of all ages, shapes and sizes, and a story/fashion shoot at Rucker Park in Harlem, where legends are made and unmade on a regular basis.

Anyway, before I go, let’s all take a moment and-ouch-remember how last season ended: With Hakeem Olajuwon (next issue, folks), the game’s best player and the ultimate symbol of sportsmanship, grace and humility, draining a three-pointer. Smiling.

If the thing’s settled by the time you read this, that’s cool, but if it isn’t, well…



Tony Gervino

Issue 8 Penny Hardaway