by Ben Osborne / @bosborne17
As if I should ever have to explain putting the G.O.A.T. on our cover…
SLAM historians should know that this issue’s timing (finish working on it right as the Playoffs start, have it on stands while the second round and Conference Finals are taking place) has long vexed us, with two of the last three years resulting in upsets that messed us up a bit. In 2007, we went with Dirk and Shaq on the cover. They both lost in the first round in embarrassing fashion. Whoops. In 2008, bingo—the Celtics on their way to a title. Perfect. Last year we pitted LeBron against Kobe—well, one of them made us look good.
Unsure exactly what team/player was the safest/most timely this month, and with two of the biggest names out of the cover equation due to a special issue you’ll see in about two weeks, we settled on a different front-page subject this month: yep, it’s Mike’s turn again. Why the heck not?
We remain captivated by the memory of his playing days, and this issue relives how dominant the Black Cat was at this time of year with a piece on his 10 Greatest Post-season Moments by Russ Bengtson, a Jordan historian in his own right.
This isn’t just a look back at a time of year Michael Jordan always owned on the court, though. It’s also a look ahead.
For the very first time, a former NBA player is now a full-fledged NBA owner, and how Mike handles this role will be watched closely by other executives around the League, current and former players, and, we think, the millions of fans that still make him one of the world’s greatest product endorsers and scoop up everything we do on him with the quickness (remember these recent classics?).
Just about anyone could have written the feature about Mike as an owner—if you write for SLAM you likely know Mike’s career pretty well and have a feeling on this next stage, one way or another—but we went outside our usual cast of contributors for this one and asked the great Rick Telander to tackle the assignment. Having written about MJ for 25 years for the likes of the Chicago Sun-Times and Sports Illustrated, and privy to conversations and quotes with him none of SLAM’s comparatively new writers ever have, Rick has a perspective all his own.
If Playoff memories and a world-class piece by one of our favorite writers (relive some of our history with Rick via this link) about the best player ever don’t pique your interest, we’ve got stories with kids at the opposite end of the career spectrum from Michael (such as Final Four hero Gordon Hayward and our High School All-Americans, beautifully photographed in the heart of Times Square) and every phase in between (features on Vince Carter, Stephen Curry and Zach Randolph, a WNBA Season Preview, and an absolutely classic Old-School q+a with Reggie Miller, as conducted by the great former SLAM Ed. Tony Gervino).
As I say in my Editor’s Letter, the mixture of old and new, the looking back and looking ahead, that this month’s issue calls for really captures what SLAM is all about. Pick it up at a store near you in the next week or two and see for yourself.