Back In the Game

“Farmer Jones.” Yeah, the title is a misnomer. You know us, we like the funny. In truth, I am not a farmer, and I do not live on a farm. I don’t even actually personally know any farmers. But, all things being relative, as all things are, moving from New York, New York, to State College, Pennsylvania has a lot of people (most of them named “Sam” and “Lang”) thinking I live on a farm.

I do not.

I now live, essentially, at Penn State University. Back again for the second time, like some rapper almost said once. About a month ago, I did my last day as Ed. A little more than seven years at the SLAM Dome, stuck in a little office that smelled like new sneakers and old cardboard and bad air, and yet often felt like the coolest job I ever could’ve had. It probably was. But everything, even the coolest job you could ever had, must end, and for a lot of reasons (most of them named “Wifey” and “Ed. Jr.”) it felt like the end was now. So now, a month later, I’m in State College, PA, with a job at my alma mater. And it’s cool. Not like SLAM was and always will be cool, but in its own way. And it’s definitely not a farm.

Although, truth be told, there are a whole sh*tload of farms out here. I’m just not on one.

So, yeah, we settled on a new name for the blog, both because Farmer Jones’ Roundball Almanac seemed funny and appropriately hokey and also because those tightwad pr*cks at T-Mobile showed no love, and so they and their stupid Sidekick will never be mentioned here again. (I just got a new Verizon phone, and it came with like a 20 percent discount with my faculty/staff ID card, and it’s got great reception. I’m all about Verizon now. Suck it, T-Mobile).

Anyway, Sam doesn’t believe me, but I’ll be trying to post a lot more often now that I’m not actually “working” at SLAM anymore. I’ll start with some thoughts on my last issue as Ed., SLAM 105. It’s been much discussed in certain sections of this site, but I really do feel compelled to help explain the apparent jinx this issue has had on the players features in it. Do I feel responsible? Sort of. Is this a bad omen for SLAM’s future? Probably, yeah. Am I full of sh*t, and about to be even more so? Absolutely.

By now you know about Carmelo Anthony (slapped and ran, got suspended for a month) and Bill Walker (blew out his knee, out for the year). But you probably don’t know just how bad it really is. Here, let me tell you. I’ll start from the beginning. Grab an issue and follow along…

Page 6: Daniel Artest (K1X ad) — Just before this issue went to press, Ron’s brother was signed by an ABA team. Sorry dude.

Page 13: Cedric The Entertainer — Just after this issue went to press, “The Cleaner” was released in theaters. Seriously, we’re really sorry about this.

Page 25: Dorrell Wright — D-Wizzy recently missed a flight on the Heat’s team plane. Wait, this one’s not our fault. Dorrell just can’t tell time.

Page 27: Morris Almond — Almond’s shorts kept coming off after this photo was taken. A few weeks later, Morris and the SMU dude trying to guard him were married in a civil ceremony in Vermont. So this one actually turned out OK. Congrats, fellas.

Page 31: Michael Redd — I was gonna attempt more knee-slapping humor here, and then I remembered that Redd is actually out six weeks. Sucker.

Page 45: Dwight Howard — Somewhere on here, Jake Appleman posted something claiming Dwight is now averaging 39 turnovers per game. I was not able to confirm this statement, but knowing Jake as I do, I will assume that number is correct. Dwight should work on that.

Page 50: Andrew Bynum — Apparently hired a nutritionist. Horrible idea. Do you think Michael Jordan ever had a nutritionist?

Poster: Dwyane Wade — Is this guy even allowed to play more than three consecutive games without spraining his spleen or something? I’m tired of it. Retire already.

Page 74: Terry Cummings — Has not played a single minute since this feature ran. It’s like he’s not even in the League anymore.

Page 83: Rbk The Ballout — The Ugliest Shoe In The World, but only AFTER the issue came out. No, we don’t understand it, either.

Page 94: Glen Davis — Big Baby actually got in a car accident the other day, which isn’t funny, but thankfully he’s OK. Glen is one of the coolest dudes ever, so we’re very glad to see dude back on the court.

Page 95: Dude In The Wave Builder Ad — He’s in a Wave Builder ad. There’s no coming back from that, model boy.

Page 97: Jason Kidd — Got scorched 11-3 in a game of one-on-one with Andy Garcia — no, not the actor, the kid in the Better Basketball ad pictured directly below him. Andy Garcia has been 11 years old for about six years now, and man, are his handles nice. One day soon, I’m going to write the tell-all feature on Andy Garcia, and it will change your life. Don’t doubt me. Don’t you dare.

Oh, and then Jason got divorced because his wife’s a psycho. Allegedly. So there’s that, too.

Issue Summary: Basically, it was a bloodbath. Thank God we didn’t actually sell any ads last month, because if this issue had been like 150 pages, we might’ve wiped out the game itself. Hopefully, this won’t happen in SLAM 106, but I’m guessing you’ll remember the next one for different reasons…

We’ve been teasing you with hints over the past month or so, and you’ll see why in the next few weeks. What I can tell you is that, even before I knew I was leaving, we as a staff had been talking about ways to make the magazine better. We never thought it needed a complete overhaul, and I’m pretty sure we were right. But we all agreed it was due for a remix – at least I think that’s the word we settled on — and you’ll see the results shortly.

Having been out of the office for a month, I’m as excited about seeing the finished product as (I’m assuming) some of you are, though I’ve got a pretty good idea of how a lot of the new sh*t will look. And I think it’s gonna look dope. A lot of the new twists are things we were working on while I was still there; others I had nothing to do with. Combined, what I think it all needed was someone with a new perspective who still had an in-depth knowledge of everything SLAM is about. Ben Osborne started at the Dome a couple years before I did, and he’s as down for the cause as anyone could possibly be, so I have no doubts it’s gonna be good.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this:

I’ve been saying it for years, and I’ll say it again: The “Bangkok” game is a terrific teaching tool for coaches at all levels, and it’s a shame that kids today can’t understand that.