Originally published in SLAM 112
The 6th Man: Hopefully this month’s cover story—not to mention the articles on OJ’s fellow Pac-10ers, Chase Budinger (pg. 74) and DeVon Hardin (pg. 22)—means we’ll never read another letter accusing us of a West Coast bias.
The cover choice notwithstanding, there’s no sudden anti-NBA bias, either. I’ve had OJ slotted into this cover spot for months, figuring there was no better player to sell a back-to-school/college preview issue. We’ll see if I’m right about that, but either way, the NBA’s summer of (no) love sure made this decision easier. After all, a horrible Finals, followed by an uninspired TV contract extension decision, followed by the absolute debacle that is the Donaghy Affair, reinforced that the time was right to give the League a break from our hallowed front page. We ain’t trying to pile on, and of course we’ll be back next month with the illest NBA preview you can find, but now is as good a time as any to look to the college game, where OJ and his boys from the high school class of ‘07 may make the Durant-Oden hype seem like an undercard to this season’s main event.
The six players we blessed with first-team All-American status a few issues back, not to mention the other first years who get name dropped in our college preview (pg. 76) are all talented enough to make an instant impact in college, and we’re excited to watch. After years of hearing about Rose and Gordon, Love and Singler, Mayo and Beasley, but only catching them at the occasional camp or on the rare televised game, these six freshmen are gonna be all over your TV. We advocate your following all of their careers, but it says here you will be most drawn to the telegenic Mayo, a gifted athlete with the flair for dramatics that every sports fan gravitates to. Love OJ or hate OJ, you’re gonna want to watch him.