Originally published in SLAM 43

The 6th Man: The call came on a Thursday. “Russ, D. Stern. I know you heard the stuff about the coaches wearing mics, right? And you know a couple of ’em got a little—well, upset about the whole thing. But we reached a compromise. They said they’d do it if you would. What do you think?”

Visions swirled. Thoughts dumber than the ones on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? being broadcast to the world. Maybe I’d call Scottie Pippen a “gutless loser who wouldn’t take responsibility unless it was written on an undeserved paycheck” and it would be taken horribly out of context. Maybe all of the other editors out there would steal all my best techniques and I’d be forced to live on the streets, or even worse, get a TV job.

“Tell you what, D. I’ll do it, but I want final control over what gets used. And I want to use it in SLAM, in Sixth Man or something.”


•3/30, 4:42 p.m. “Hey everybody, think about this for a minute. What book would Phil have given Dexter Manley?”
•3/31, 11:14 a.m. “Did y’all see what Vince did last night?”
•3/31, 1:38 p.m. “Yo Ben, I finished the Rider story. Take a look at it and tell me what you think. Change anything you want.”
•3/31, 1:39 p.m. [Under breath] “Susan, I’ll e-mail you the real version. If you use even one of his stupid corrections, you’re fired.”
•3/31, 6:58 p.m. “$%#$%#$!!! &^%#$@##!!!! #@#$%$%^*!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
•4/3, 11:08 a.m. “Did y’all see what Vince did last night?”
•4/4, 2:54 p.m. “Ryan? RYAN!! Edit! EDIT!!! C’mon, that story ain’t nothin’. Where do you think you are, Sports Illustrated for Kids? No? Well, you’d better get rollin’ or that’s damn well where you’ll #@$@#%! end up!!!!!!” [Sounds of chair being thrown across the room.]
•4/5, 5:53 p.m. “Hey everyone, huddle up for a minute…OK, the issue’s almost done. Last couple things. But it’s all under control. Oh—one more thing. Act like you’ve been there.”


Russ Bengtson

Issue 43 Shaq Kobe