By Sam Rubenstein

The end of the year is a time to look back at what we’ve been doing the past year, but I will also present it to you as new material for you non-magazine readers. When we went through our big re-design, the one thing that got me excited above anything else was the idea of comparing NBA players to people that aren’t NBA players. I like to compare dis to dat. It’s what I do in my free time anyways. And so, Which NBA Player Are You was born.

The guidelines I try to live by with this column is to hopefully keep it somewhat timely with magazine deadlines, and to never get stale by mixing up the professions, so it’s not just a basketball player and rapper every month. The process is basically I come up with the two parties involved, give our photo editor Monique Perreault a series of really vague or extremely specific ideas for photos, turn it in and bam, it goes through the editing factory and there you go.

And now I present to you, going from most recent all the way back to the beginning, the year or so in Which NBA Player Are You. With Where Are They Now bonus commentary!

I pulled out the big guns for the New Year. Since turning it in, stories have come out that Shaq is struggling with the depression from his recent divorce, and one of the best Arnold lines in Total Recall was “Consida zat a zivorce” after he kills a young Sharon Stone immediately after one of the all-time great catfights. Looking at the present, the end of Shaq’s career is turning out like the end of Arnold’s career. Both are tarnishing legacies if you choose to pay attention. Remember the good times, I say.

The whole idea behind Lupe and Carmelo is that they are both superstars, but something self-inflicted always seems to hold them back from taking that next step. Okay fine, I realized I had done too much of the old guard and needed to get some youth in there.

Oh baby. If there were a Nobel Prize for comparing two people, this would have won. Think back to the days of Vinsanity dunks of the night and how electrifying they were, or how from Get Rich Or Die Trying and earlier, 50 was such a breath of fresh air from all the sing songy R&B rap. These guys changed a little over the years, in similar ways. The timeliness factor was that Kanye and 50 Cent (I refuse to type Fitty. Oops I just did.) were both releasing albums on the same day, right when this issue of SLAM was coming out. Since then, what have we learned? Vince and 50 are both getting paid a lot of money whether it’s via the overpriced contract extension or all of Cuuuuuuurtiiiissss industries. Do they care that millions of people consider them to be all that’s wrong with the universes they exist in? I think not. I think they care about their money, and live happy lives as rich men.

This was when American Gangster was hitting theaters. I thought of finding someone for Denzel, maybe Ray Allen, but it just wasn’t the right fit. So I went with Sheed and Crowe, the petulant bad boys of their respective trades. What have we learned? The real star of American Gangster was not Oscar Award winners Crowe or Denzel. It was Josh Brolin. Sheed has been noticeably calmer this season, and Crowe isn’t in jail so that’s good for him.

The only woman to grace the pages of Which NBA Player Are You. Or is she a woman? I kid. I kid. The common thread between the two of them right now is that people are looking at the Lakers with a wait and see attitude, even as they continue to climb. The same with Hil in the polls. Monique chose to go with the photo of Hillary in the Yankees hat. Genius!

First of all, the Mike Vick jersey has no purpose, this was before even the first news of any doggie business, but it’s a funny touch in hindsight. Looking at the two of them now, Ghost puts out an album like every two months and it’s always good and you always take it for granted. Nash has so many 14 assist games you forget how uncommon that should be. Will Ghostface ever get his due as best rapper alive or go multi platinum on his own? Will Steve Nash ever win a championship? The answer to both questions is probably no. Sorry.

This was obvious, and I didn’t even have to extend it to their ALLEGED problems putting their hands on women. Probably my least favorite one just because of how obvious it is.

The Number 23 was in theaters, and Gilbert was taking self-centered goofiness to heights unseen since Ace Ventura. Looking back, Gilbert is a great offensive player and a funny personality that everybody loves, but when he starts to get serious, for example talking about money and why he’s such a great player, you tend to think “Hey, be funny clown!” Have you ever sat through a serious Jim Carrey movie? The Cable Guy? Disturbing. The Truman Show? Eh. Eternal Sunshine? Good movie, but where’s the funny!

And this is the one that started it all. Why did I choose Antoine and Pesci, two bit players in a world of superstars? I do not know, it just came to me. The last time we saw Joe Pesci on the big screen it was in that Matt Damon movie about the birth of the CIA, The Good Shepherd. Pesci was on screen for about three minutes and in that time his character said approximately a million racially offensive things to every race in the book. That’s kind of like your typical Toine game, where he offends the basketball purist with his shot selection.

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!!