Originally published in SLAM 52

For this issue, instead of making up some outlandish scenario to explain the above sequence, I thought I’d let you in on some trade secrets. Give you the Ahmad, if you will. Let you in on the complex process we go through to bring you this spread. So put on your hard hats and follow Otis Smith, your Slamadamonth tour guide.

1) RESEARCH—This is by far the most time-consuming part of the process. Mostly, it involves sitting in front of a TV somewhere and watching NBA highlights (we prefer TBS and TNT—ESPN is too dangerous what with all of that baseball). Upon seeing a play that makes us spill our bee—uh, milk—we write down the date, location and participants. We then move on to Step Two.

2) THE PHOTO—This is more complicated than it sounds. Despite the skill level of the NBA’s premier photographers, and the fact that there are generally more cameras focused on each basket than there are spy planes watching China, sometimes the shot just doesn’t happen. For example, based on photographic evidence, Stephon Marbury’s barely unbelievable reverse alley-oop on Sam Mitchell back in December never occurred. In that case, we need to move on to a second (or third, or fourth, or fifth) choice, which means repeat Step One. Once we find a photo that clearly shows the violent nature of an appropriate dunk (like, well… not like this one), we can move on to Step Three.

3) THE VIDEO—This generally works one of two ways. In the usual case, we call and give the NBA video people the pertinent information—date and place, offender and victim, approximate time during the game when the event occurred, and approximate description of the event (for example: “Kevin Garnett faked a three, then drove and dunked all over Raef LaFrentz”). The exception, of course, was in the case of Vince Carter’s dunk on Frederic Weis in Sydney, where we simply needed to promise NBC that we would never make fun of Just Shoot Me.

And that’s about it. We combine those and bring you this. Until next time…

Russ Bengtson