Originally published in SLAM 110

The 6th Man: Not sure how closely you all read this letter every issue, but I promised in my first one (LeBron’s NBA, for those of you with short memories) to make this magazine universal in its scope, so that all you needed to do was be a basketball fan to enjoy it. Age should not matter. Our new fashion, product and contest sections all have a youthful bent, so I feel confident our younger readers are in good hands.

The “serious” stuff has taken a little longer to get in a rhythm. I think we’ve given hints of where we can go with thoughtful features on guys like Johnny Moore and God Shammgod, but those are still just profiles, which I’d like to think SLAM already had down pat.

But this issue includes two stories that were used as examples of where we could take this magazine during the very first story meeting I ran. The first is Senior Editor Khalid Salaam’s look at the rampant stereotyping that engulfs us, in the sports world and beyond. There’s no perfect way to fix the hole we’ve dug for ourselves with our various prejudices, but this story offers a solid first step—by forcing you to think a little about things you had long since taken for granted.

Speaking of taking things for granted, if there’s any material good that most SLAM readers couldn’t imagine life without, it would be shoes. How can you play ball without them? Well, in some parts of the world, not having new Nikes is the least of concerns for young hoopheads. One of these parts is Southern Africa, which is where Kenya-based freelance writer Robert Marriott went to check in with the non-profit organization Hoops 4 Hope. As you’ll see in Rob’s beautifully executed piece, there are young people who need supplies, and much support, in order to play the game, not to mention simply live with hope. H4H is helping to fill these needs, and if you like what you learn about them in the story, please go to hoopsafrica.org to get down with the cause.


Ben Osborne

P.S. The cover. Once again, we took a concept and ran with it. Big ups to Greg and Kevin—and their respective camps—for giving us the time, and thanks to the entire SLAM staff for conceiving and nailing the “fight poster” feel. Ding ding!

Issue 110 Durant Oden