The SLAM Commandments

by September 18, 2008

Tying a shoe seems…obvious. It’s natural, or so we think – cross, loop, pull, tighten…done. Some might think composing a piece for SLAMonline is rather intuitive as well – think (hopefully), type, save, send…boom. Simple, right?


The truth is everyone ties ‘em a bit differently, SLAMonline especially.

So I asked some of our most tenured columnists (five guys for whom I have almost too much respect) to give their thoughts on what SLAMonline represents. They made the site what it is today, and I wanted their guidance for future writers. Quickly and honestly, they obliged.

If you’re like me, you’ll bookmark this page, braze it into your brain’s deepest crevice, and return if you ever forget. This is what SLAMonline was, is, and forever will be. But don’t expect to unearth any secrets here. If you’ve hung around long enough, you’ll find the following is as intuitive as tying your shoe. – Ryne Nelson


Dear Newbie,

You want to write for the Basketball Bible’s website. That’s cool. Here are a few things to keep in mind; consider them commandments to obey in order for you to reach your full potential and help us keep getting better…

I. Your job is to entertain and inform. If you don’t have anything new to say, or a unique way to say something obvious, or a story to tell, or something to report from a game that’s interesting, you’re wasting our time and lowering our standard.  Please focus on how true that is, and not on how harsh it sounds.

II. Don’t rush. Read your shit aloud. There’s always a better, more concise way to say what you’re getting at. Never slough off a first draft that you haven’t read out loud and send it in. In fact, pretty much everything you write should be vetted by yourself at least 3-4 times minimum. You might still make a mistake, but at least it won’t be due to laziness.

III. Understand our unique residence in the basketball internets community and strive to improve it. Aside from Mutoni, who reps the blogosphere to the fullest, most of us are caught somewhere in the indefinable Columnist/Writer/Reporter continuum. This gives us access and freedoms that should be taken advantage of. While the best technical basketball bloggers in the world (Marcel, BDL, Fanhouse, T-Hoop, the best independent team blogs, etc.) are great at what they do because they thrive on mixing coherence with speed and precision, if you’re writing for us (Game Notes aside), that shouldn’t be your M.O. Let your words marinate. This is especially important because you’re trying to develop a rapport with our readers. The harder you work, the more they’ll appreciate you. Some of them habitually dole-out compliments like bacon-wrapped scallops at weddings; while that’s mighty swell of them, don’t let the praise completely go to your head.

IV. Love what you’re doing. Writing is fun and enjoyable. If you’re struggling, go find your happy place.

V. If you have a blog that you run through mental brick walls for, and you’re guesting for us, know that we deserve the same respect you give your personal blog. Chances are Lang was doing The Links when you were still in high school, before blogs came to prominence and Gilbert took zaniness to new levels.

VI. If you have yet another list in mind, go find a gun. Proceed to use gun on self.

VII. Writing for the website is no different than writing for the magazine. Just because Bill Simmons can go on for 20,000 words doesn’t mean you should. And please don’t write like you’re a 13-year-old girl sending a text message. You’re writing for the best basketball magazine in the world, not your BFF Jill; capital letters and proper punctuation good, internet abbreviations and careless spelling bad. If you use stats, double-check them. If you have an idea that you think is new, Google it to make sure it actually is a new idea. Good writing is good writing, whether it’s words on a page or pixels on a monitor. Respect the SLAM brand.

VIII. Write what you know and what you want to write, not what you think we would want someone to write. We already have people in-house who can write at length (and well) on LeBron and Kobe. Unless you have a brilliant new angle or some sort of amazing access, focus on telling us something we don’t already know.

IX. Know SLAM history and respect it. To that end, love the game.  And spread our love for the game.

X. Don’t ask what SLAMonline can do for you; ask what you can do for SLAMonline. (Really, we can’t stress enough how important that is.)


Jake Appleman M.D.

The Honorable Russ Bengtson

Myles Brown esq.

Prof. Ryan Jones

Lt. Marcel Mutoni