Originally published in SLAM 121
The 6th Man: Growing up in New York, I was inclined to have at least a moderate dislike for all things Boston. Combine that fact with a strong dislike for the ’80s Celtics (I didn’t like the Lakers of those days either; I wanted someone else to get to play on CBS every once in a while) and the professional objectivity one develops while working at a basketball magazine for 11 years (!), and the rebirth of the Celtics wasn’t doing much for me personally this year. I chalked the 66 wins up to a bad conference and let the Atlanta and Cleveland series convince me the Cs were no match for the Pistons, let alone the Lakers.
Well, they showed me. In person. Peering out from behind the numerous banners in the upper reaches of the Boston Garden (I heard locals still refer to it that way, so why can’t I?), I took in Games 1 and 2 and thoroughly enjoyed the Celtics’ passionate play and the raucous environment. Attending those games and watching the Game 6 party on TV was very cool. To use a SLAM term, it felt old-school, a sentiment that someone in my position can appreciate, and hopefully many SLAM readers can as well.
Speaking of old-school, the contents of this month’s issue give me a reason to display a cover that predates even myself on the editorial staff: issue 5, the May, 1995 edition that featured that year’s coolest NBA backcourt. What’s the occasion? A compelling first-person feature on Timmy written by a man who coached him in college, Rus Bradburd. Piling on the high-quality journalism, the Hardaway feature is complemented with a sidebar on his former running mate, Spree, penned by award-winning writer Steve Kettmann. In the case of both ex-players, the stories represent bittersweet trips down memory lane that most of you should find informative and enjoyable.
Kinda like taking in a Finals game at the Boston Garden.