Originally published in SLAM 65
The 6th Man: Lead time. Those may be the two most terrifying words in the magazine publishing biz. Sometimes its effects are small—say, when Nene Hilario shaves his head between the cover photo shoot and the In Your Face shoot for the same issue. And sometimes its effects are big—say, when Darius Miles gets traded two days after you print a couple hundred thousand KICKS issues with him on the cover in a Clippers jersey.
Today—meaning the today when I’m writing this—is September 30th. Today—meaning the today when you’re reading this—is sometime in mid-to-late October. At the earliest. Much will have happened in the month between the keyboard and the newsstand or mailbox. Like training camp, which has yet to start. Trades will be made. Free agents will be signed. Players will get injured. Preseason games will be played. Starters will be named.
Essentially, this is a long-winded way of telling you our ’02-03 NBA Preview may not be as accurate as you’d want it to be. Unlike the average newspaper preview, which is written a few days before the season starts, ours was written well in advance. Maybe too far. Sometimes, this can lead to major problems, like when the Bulls signed Dennis Rodman. Sometimes it leads to small ones, like referring to Sacramento King Jumaine Jones (we caught that one). That’s pretty much why we decided to squeeze the NBA preview into four pages this year. If we’re gonna be wrong, we may as well not be too wrong.
Instead, we chose to expand in other ways. Prior to each division preview, we chose to profile—Elementals-style, for those of you who pay attention—four players who should make a major impact in their respective divisions. Two, Hawks small forward Glenn Robinson and Knicks power forward Antonio McDyess, are newcomers. The other two, Spurs center David Robinson and Laker point guard Derek Fisher, are both veterans and champions. All four are ready to help their teams. Hopefully they still are.