Originally published in SLAM 104
The 6th Man: Call me jaded, I guess. Like most of our staff, I’ve been at SLAM long enough that I don’t get geeked up to hang with ballplayers anymore. There are exceptions—I’m not even a Jordan fan, but sitting down for a one-on-one with Mike for SLAM 100 was still pretty crazy—but for the most part, spending an hour or two with yet another tall millionaire is just part of the job.
Every once in a while, though, there’s something next level about an interview or photo shoot that makes it worth remembering, even savoring: Something like sitting in a high school lunch room with a relatively unknown 16-year-old named LeBron; like standing in a photo studio at 11 o’clock on a Monday night and watching as Kobe Bryant wraps a live snake around his hand for the camera; like Stephon Marbury handing you a wad of cash and sending you on a Nathan’s run to get some hot dogs for his nieces and nephews, to keep them busy while he finishes a photo shoot in the shadow of the Coney Island projects where he grew up. It’s the stuff you can’t put a price on, the stuff that reminds you that this really is a pretty cool job.
My interview with Vince Carter for one of this month’s cover stories now has a place on this list. As our man Matt Adam says, “There’s nothing like watching the artist look at and react to their own work.” Matt’s the man responsible for The Vince Tape, the VC highlight compilation we’ve been passing around like bootleg gold for the past five or six years. His job as a field producer for NBC’s sports “feed” service means he’s got access to every clip imaginable, and it was with this access and a little bit of spare time that he compiled a few dozen of the best dunks from Vince’s first two seasons and packaged it with surreal highlights from Mike Tyson’s illest press conferences and footage of former NFL all-pro Bruce Smith passing out on live TV that may be the single most absurd minute in broadcast history. Thanks to Matt’s tape, we had a chance to sit with Vince as he re-lived his greatest hits.
Oh, and you Canadians finally get your Chris Bosh cover, too. Enjoy.