by Ben Osborne / @bosborne17

Ever seen the SLAM Dome? Even in our “light” weeks, this approximately 16 x 16 box that seats four is crammed with books, magazines, classic kicks and enough basketball ephemera to warrant a small room at the Hall of Fame—if not our own episode of Hoarders, word to @microtony.

In the last weeks of 2011 and the first week of 2012, however, our 8th-floor domain reached a new level of crowded. And, as lovers of shoes almost as much as we love the game, we welcomed the presence of a massive array of the not-yet-released Air Jordan 2012s, not to mention some great new training footwear, ill retros and fresh gear. Yeah, that’s how we’re living.

We didn’t keep it, and you know we didn’t leak it. Nah, blessed with the trust of our friends at Jordan Brand, we looked at the stuff, took pictures, and did things the old-fashioned way—building a magazine about the Air Jordan 2012 (photo 5 in the gallery) and all the amazing things the Brand and its signature athletes (especially the guy in photo 2) have going on. Besides huge features on Dwyane and the shoe (which includes remarkably entertaining and candid quotes from the immortal Tinker Hatfield), the issue has stories on the UNC Tar Heels, Derek Jeter, Maya Moore, Spike Lee, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, the Jordan Brand Classic and some sick images of Michael Jordan’s playing days.

Those of us at SLAM have zero hate for all the online sneaker coverage these days—shoot, we generate a ton of it ourselves right here on the site—but there’s something special about putting all these great images and stories on paper and letting you enjoy it that way. In fact, if you’re like us and enjoy filling your bedroom, living room or office with basketball and kicks memorabilia, we’re guessing a copy or two of this issue will have a lengthy shelf life with many of you.

So, you know the deal. Check your local bookstore or newsstand starting this weekend, or hit our back-issue site next week, and get yours!

Oh, and the fact that it’s MJ’s birthday? Sometimes we’re even smarter than we think…