Of course I’d make Mark Jackson the topic of my last Editor’s Letter. The trajectory of my relationship with my favorite athlete of all time speaks far too well to the trajectory of my relationship with SLAM to ignore. When I became a SLAM reader (with Issue 1 originally, and consistently beginning with No. 10), I was just a fan of Mark’s. I’d stalked him for autographs, imitated his moves and opened each issue of “the bible of basketball” hoping he’d gotten shine. Alas, he never did. After joining SLAM as an intern in August ’97 and becoming Associate Editor shortly after, I preached the greatness of Mark so incessantly that then-Ed. Tony Gervino had no choice but to let me write about him. The SLAM 25 feature “The Turtle” followed. I kept professional while working on the story, but after it came out and I met Mark at MSG to give him a copy in person, I copped to the truth: I was the ultimate MarkJaxFan. Or stan, as it were. He loved it. From there, wearing the fan hat and the door-opening SLAM hat, I attended charity events he was part of (such as the one above, in ’04) and we chatted regularly. After attaining the prestigious title of SLAM E-i-C, our relationship only grew. We texted within minutes of his getting the Warriors coaching job, I took part in his 50th birthday celebration and I now consider us friends. Without SLAM, nothing past fan would have happened. So that’s one of the million reasons I’m so grateful for my time here.
The other players who have made my time here so special are too numerous to mention, so I’ll just shout out one: LeBron James. In the simplest of terms, this issue’s cover marks the culmination of all SLAM has wanted for him since we started covering him 15 years ago: that he get his fair props from the entire basketball community. Congrats, Bron.
Likewise, there are too many people here that have made my life better to list them all, so I’m just shouting out one. It’s been said, accurately and many times, that SLAM is bigger than the people who work here. It’s a community of millions now: staff, subscribers, advertisers, social-media followers. But without one person, this magazine simply would not exist. That person is Dennis Page. Respect due.
P.S. Last month, we were saying good-bye to Adam Figman; now we’re welcoming him back. He’ll be the new Ed., and he will kill it. #SLAMisFam