Kings of the Game: On Sale Now

intro by Ben Osborne x Tzvi Twersky / photos by Tom Medvedich x Atiba Jefferson

SLAM is a basketball magazine first, but from day one, almost 20 years ago, sneakers and fashion were an integral part of what we did. The intersection of hoops and style is what makes basketball more than just a game, and it’s what has allowed us to thrive for so long. Because basketball is more than a game, young people want a magazine in which they can see their favorite players and their favorite shoes in the same place; something they can carry around or use to decorate their bedrooms as they see fit. And because of all that, footwear companies have long seen SLAM as the best place to advertise their new products. The bonds between SLAM, the sport of basketball and the gear players wear on and off the court is, to use a couple of modern marketing terms, both authentic and organic.

The next step from covering shoes in SLAM was a mag dedicated to them—KICKS, which is more than 15 years old now in its own right—and, in the last couple of years, custom publications dedicated to specific brands. And I love it. There is no question (*winks*) that Reebok has an amazing basketball story. The brand was on the feet of stars in the ’80s, dunkers and The Diesel in the early ’90s and Allen Iverson for an entire career. Through all that, Reebok’s cache stretched from the court to fashion to hip-hop (peep the other side of this unique “flip book” for an encyclopedic recap of that marriage). And today Reebok is back with classic styles and modern technology. It’s enough to warrant an entire magazine. Actually…two magazines—in one nifty format!

Because so much of Reebok’s history has been style as much as performance, you have long seen their Classic styles on stars of hip-hop, too. So, we teamed up with our good friends and office mates from XXL to make a “flip book”—half SLAM, half XXL, all dope.

In the two years since Reebok brought Swizz Beatz on board, ideas have been blossoming on the Reebok Classics campus in Canton, MA. Rick Ross, the big bawse, was brought on board. Tyga, YMCMB’s last king of Rack City, has joined the movement. Classic snapbacks and Basquiat t-shirts have popped up in music videos. Ex-O-Fits and Workouts have become constants on stages at concerts across the country. In essence, Reebok, whose roots in hip-hop date back to classic names such as Soulja Slim and the Hot Boy$ and Jay-Z and G-Unit, is most definitely back.

In this special case, that moment of creation took the form of a mid-winter photo shoot that saw Ross, Swizz and Tyga, two rappers and a producer from three very different parts of the country in three very different stages of their careers with three very different tastes in fashion and footwear, come together on one set. As the cameras clicked and flashed, the three artists talked art, money, music and clothes. They preened for the photographer. They sat down for interviews with writers and danced and handled a basketball for the video cameras (check the trailer below for a taste, and stay tuned for next week’s launch of a microsite that will boast all sorts of exclusive video content). Most of all, everyone had a good time.

The shoot was a momentous moment—and this magazine, which also includes plenty of other big names in basketball and music, is a momentous result.

Look for it on newsstands in NYC this weekend, and everywhere you buy SLAM and XXL next week.