By Ben Osborne
As you can see, the site continues to change. The big changes are pretty much complete. We’ve got some smaller tweaks to make but they should be in place by training camp and we will be up and running at full strength for the NBA season. SLAM’s publisher sees no reason why the number-one basketball magazine in the world wouldn’t have the number-one basketball website. His occasionally spotty financing of such goals aside, everyone here is game for his challenge, and hopefully the revamped site—along with continued support from all of you, easily the coolest web audience there is—make it happen.
When I last posted, I asked if you the readers had any questions about SLAM for me. I wouldn’t say my email inbox exploded, but I got 30 or so emails and there were also questions posted in the comment section. The ones below represent an FAQ, if you will, of things people want to know.
Feel free to keep the questions coming, particularly about the magazine, as I will gladly do another one of these in the future. And if you’ve got more online-related queries, you can always hit up your friends Lang and Sam.
Q: Who picks the high school diary?
Ed.: Ultimately, I do. But between high school experts Ryan Jones and Aggrey Sam and the rest of a staff that all at least casually follow high school hoops, I certainly feel like I have good people to bounce names off of before picking someone. This was the first year for me to choose, but I think going with Tyreke Evans (who debuted in the Spurs issue that is on sale now) stuck with what Tony, Russ and Ryan had done before me: pick the most compelling high school player in his class. Tyreke may very well be the “best” player in the class of ’08 (Aggrey thinks so), but it was just as important to me that the long time he’s spent in the Philly spotlight and a very involved family insured that he’d have some good stuff to write about on a monthly basis.
Q: Why aren’t I getting my subscription here in Canada/England/Ireland/South Africa/etc? How can I buy old issues?
Ed.: Because the postal service sucks? The most common question is the least exciting for me, and arguably the one I feel most powerless to answer. In the early days of SLAM, the subscriptions were sent from this office, which meant an individual complaint could be taken from someone in the editorial team right over to the subscription office, and answers were easy to find. As SLAM teamed with Primedia and grew, it made like pretty much every other major magazine and now our subscriptions are handled by a company that specializes in getting people their magazines. It may be less human than the old way, but ideally it would be more efficient. So, no matter where you live (most of the questions I got like this were from outside the US, but I’m guessing Americans have some complaints too), if you are having problems with your subscription please call the SLAM Subscription line at +800-333-6411. They really should be able to help you out. One plus to the modernization of our subscription service is that there is a reliable place to order back issues (which the kind folks in our in-house susbscription office weren’t always so great at). That place is right here. Get your collection right!
Q: When does SlamUps come out?
Ed.: Maybe never again. Unlike KICKS (issue 10 on sale Aug. 21) and Streetball (out since June and possibly still on newsstands), SlamUps has never been a consistent part of our annual production schedule. I’m veering a bit into a business side of things I don’t always grasp, but I think we need a sole sponsor to make SlamUps, as Nike has done in the past. So, if such a sponsor steps up and wants us to do a special issue like SlamUps, we do it, but if no one does, I’m guessing the powers that be don’t consider it worthwhile to put out.
Q: Why not give more love to my favorite player, Baron/Gilbert/Dwyane/Kobe?
Ed.: The other classic question: why isn’t my guy getting love? Obviously, we could never satisfy everyone, but I think we do our best to provide a steady stream of the game’s biggest names mixed with up and comers and old-school cats, with the goal being making as many people happy as possible. The only guy I’m going to concede “failure” on for now is the most popular guy for you guys to complain about: Kobe, and that’s only recent. He’s been on plenty of covers in the past, but none since May of ’06. I will go on record as admitting that’s too long. Some things that happened last season (AI getting traded, the Lakers not playing well late) were a factor, and this has obviously been a crazy offseason for Kobe (like I said in an interview I did in June: he did radio interviews that were outdated on the same day he did them; imagine how weird it would be for us to cover his trade demands with a six-week lead time?), so the timing has not been ideal for either party. All I can tell you for now is that we all know Kobe needs a new cover, and we hope to have that for you soon.
Q: Is it possible for SLAM to put up extra material from stories you guys do that didn’t make it on to the magazine? I love watching and reading the extra stuff and seeing the behind-the-scenes stuff.
Ed.: It is definitely possible, and to some degree we already do it. Pretty much every cover story is accompanied by a lengthy post on the site about writing the story: how they did it, extra quotes, etc. Lang is particularly good at this. We also post video footage whenever we have it in our media section. On both counts (writers putting extra thoughts and quotes in an online post as well as getting more behind-the-scenes videos), we will try to do more of this in the future. SLAM contributors, if you’re reading this, the people have spoken: give us some online extras when you do a story! The video is little harder because it requires an extra person to film, but I do know we got some great stuff at our latest cover story which we’ll put up when the issue goes on sale next month.
Q: Why do you do the “jump” pages?
Ed.: This is a pretty easy one for me. While I respect that it can be a pain to get engrossed in a feature and have to turn to the back of the mag to finish, the thinking is that when we have “fractional” ads (the ones that cut into a page and make photos on their pages smaller), why not put them on a page with all type from one of our longer stories and leave our Punks pages (with high school players, often photographed beautifully) cleaner. I also understand that many SLAM readers may not read any other magazines (love the devotion!), but we’re hardly the first magazine to do something like this…monthlies like Esquire have been doing it for as long as I remember.
Q: Why not give Max Airington a blog on Slamonline?
Ed.: I’ll finish up my q+a with this one, which came from multiple readers. Thanks to Sam, let’s just say you might want to keep checking our site this week. It should be an exciting few days for Max’s admirers…