Originally published in SLAM 145
The 6th Man: You’ve surely heard the saying “big men don’t sell shoes.” I’m not entirely sure it applies to magazines as well, though I do have a lot of anecdotal evidence to that effect (as with many rules or sayings, these do not apply to Shaq). I do know that basketball fans love point guards, and so do we at SLAM.
In the last few months alone, we’ve had Brandon Jennings on the cover of KICKS 13, Derrick Rose on SLAM 143, John Wall on SLAM 144 and now, in an issue we’re dubbing “Point Guard Madness,” we bring you Rajon Rondo (making his first-ever SLAM cover appearance) and Chris Paul (getting our front page for the first time in two years). What gives with the PGs? While granting that Kobe and LeBron are the kings of the current League as far as sneaker sales, TV ratings, and yes, SLAM covers, when you get past them, it’s the point guards who seem to best capture fans’ imaginations.
I’m sure a big part of it is size, or lack thereof. If the average fan stood next to CP3 or Brandon Jennings, they wouldn’t even flinch. Kids may agree that Kobe and LeBron are “the best,” but they also know their chances of growing to a taut 6-6 or a tank-like 6-8 are slim and none. But 6-0, 175 pounds, where basketball success is dictated more by instincts, smarts and a lot of hard work? Why not? NBA rules have obviously helped the rise of the “little guy” as well. Already appealing because of their size, speed and the fact that they have the ball in their hands most of the time, the changes over the past few years that made hand-checking illegal have allowed these players to get into the lane at will. For Rondo, that often leads to some ill ball fakes and a kick-out for a wide-open trey, while for CP3 the typical result is a floater from about five feet out. Wet.
This whole package of PGs who control the game—and to think, there are also guys like Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams who have their own rabid supporters and will surely blow up our inbox with letters and emails about how they deserve covers, too—is, without a doubt, exciting, fun, and I hope, good for SLAM’s business.