Links: JR Stops Riding

by March 31, 2008

by Lang Whitaker

I was out at dinner Saturday night when I felt my Sidekick buzz. I have to check my Sidekick every time it buzzes, because not a lot of people have the address, just the people I want to be in touch with. So when it buzzes, I check it. (Only problem is that I’ve been getting dozens of spam emails every day as well. So eighty percent of the time it buzzes, I check it and it’s “Lengthen Your…” or something like that.)

Anyway, Saturday night I got an actual email from a friend, entitled simply, “Again…,” and reading:

JR Rider was arrested on auto theft charges earlier today in Cali…

Sure enough, JR was arrested for driving a car that had been reported stolen. Also, he was in an area of Los Angeles called Skid Row, which sounds like the kind of place you don’t really want to be hanging out. There’s not much else I can add to JR’s story at this time, other than to say I hope he gets himself straightened out. I’m so tired of having to report these kind of stories about him, one of my favorite players back in the ’90s. But the stories just keep on coming.

Of course, just a few weeks ago, while on the lam, JR was arrested for arguing with a cab driver. When that happened, we here at SLAM were putting the finishing stories on an Old School Rider story that ran in SLAM 116. The last photo we had of J.R. was from back in his playing days, so we got on the phone with the clink out in Cali and, thanks to the Freedom of Information Act (holla!), we got our hands on JR’s most recent mugshot (from last month, not last week). Enjoy.

• Watched a little college ball this weekend, enough to see Kansas’ Sasha Kaun and to decide if he ever gets a feature in SLAM, we have to call it “I Feel For You.”

• NBA news of the weekend had to be the Heat making 17 field goals last night against Boston…for the entire game!

• Quote of the weekend, from Kirk Snyder regarding Matt Harpring: “He’s a physical specimen, kind of like myself.”

• Also this weekend, I was flipping through the TV listings when I saw that Wrestlemania was going down last night. I used to be a big wrestling head back in the day, but not so much anymore, now that it’s fake and all.

Anyway, because I was curious, I turned over to the Pay Per View channel to see how much it might cost to order. You know how much is cost? $55! For that much cash I might as well be there in person. No wonder Vince McMahon’s making bucks.

• Linkstigator Ronny sent along this link to James White participating in a dunk contest in Turkey. I watched it earlier and he does a lot of the stuff he’s known for, including the through-the-legs dunk from the free throw line. Weird thing is he doesn’t seem to be competing against anyone. Or maybe I just need to watch it closer.

• Also, Linkstigator Allen sent along this link to a site that has HD clips of Lakers games. I couldn’t get any of the clips to play on my computer, but the site looks pretty slick.

• I had no idea that napping is a common trait among successful people, but apparently it is. Matt Harpring, also.

• I’m as excited as anyone over the start of the baseball season, but can we all scale back our expectations for my Braves a little, please? Our starting rotation averages about 35 years old, which is not a good thing. still, Peter Gammons, Jayson Stark and Ken Rosenthal all have the Braves going at least to the World Series, which has me terrified. And today Peter King said that young Braves shortstop Yunel Escobar (one of my favorite Braves) is going to finish fourth in the N.L. MVP voting. Seriously? Only if Chipper and Tex finish in the top three.

• All the hubbub over LeBron and Giselle on the cover of Vogue looking like King Kong and Fay Wray is interesting to me, since I work in magazines and usually have a hand in conceptualizing the cover of SLAM. Do you know how a magazine cover comes about? Let’s run it down real quick like…

1. You figure out who’s going to be on the cover. This is the hardest part, because you have to think about three months ahead. If LeBron has a big game last night and you’re running a website, you put him on the front the next day; with a magazine, you have to try and guess who is going to be hot when the magazine is actually on newsstands. (Sometimes this doesn’t work out so well.) At SLAM, this process is ongoing, something the entire editorial staff is talking about constantly.

2. Once you figure out who should be on the cover, you approach that person (or the person you go through to get to that person) and try to convince that person to give you about three hours of his precious off time. Sometimes said person will not give you three hours, or even 1 hour. If this happens you start over at step one. If it doesn’t…

3. You come up with a concept. Maybe it’s a guy chilling in the sunshine in Cali, maybe it’s a guy in the shape of the NBA logo, maybe it’s two guys getting ready to square off. Whatever it is, everyone eventually agrees on something that will tell a story. Then you pitch it to the guy, get him to agree and then set up a photo shoot, which is usually a pretty grandiose production and involves hiring a photographer who can best execute our vision or even improve on it.

4. You do a photo shoot and try your best to pull off your concept.

5. A few days later, you start laying out the cover, which not only means choosing the best photo but also figuring out all the words on the cover and how they should fit in around the image. It also means coming up with a main cover line, which should be catchy, familiar, inventive and cool. Easy right?

All of that stuff is about a three or four week process, and when you do a dozen issues a year, it means you’re pretty much constantly going through the process. We spend weeks staring at a cover before you guys even see it. We know every inch of the image, which names are where, everything.

All of that to say, if nobody at Vogue had any idea that their cover was aping (ha!) an old King Kong image, they’re lying. On Gawker, Nick Denton writes that Vogue “seems to have been caught unawares.” (He’s British, so he can use words like “unawares” and it’s OK.)

But I think the key word there is “seems,” because I find it really hard to believe they had no idea what they were getting themselves into. Since the issue dropped, bloggers all over the place have been writing about it after seeing it for just a few hours or days. Vogue worked on this for at least a few weeks. Somebody had to notice it.

Or plan it, maybe.

• And you thought we in New York could come up with a sex scandal involving prominent public figures…well, we got nothing on England.

• Speaking of England, caught the British flick “The Bank Job” over the weekend and really enjoyed it. It’s better than “Juno,” at least.

• And finally, Linkstigator Paul writes…

Hey Lang,

Everyone’s looking past Webber’s retirement and forgetting the fact that not only could the dude ball, but he had some of the finest kicks that Nike ever put out. I don’t care what anyone says, Nike peaked in the ’90s with ballers shoes. And Webber was key to this before he fell out with them about the prices of their shoes. Think about it, there’s shoes being rehashed by Nike now that are being sold as retro (Zoom 96, Barkleys, Flights, 180’s), but I think this is Nike just running out of creativity.

Without a doubt, the finest shoe ever produced was the Air Unlimited, and for me it was an epiphany. [There’s a few pictures here.—Lang] I’d already been hooked on the Huraches and the Maestros that Pip was rockin back in the day, and the Jordans we consistently brilliant, but that all star game in Minnesota — the first rookie game, where Webber was bangin’ 360 dunks and runnin’ the point in the Air Unlimited. I was sold. The best Nike shoe ever. Y’all can have your AF1’s and your Flights, but the Air Unlimited was the shoe. A bigger leap forward than Shox ever was.

Of course with Nike rolling out all the previous shoes I wait until this one pops, but they’re holding back. Why??? You cannot find these shoes anywhere. They are rare as rocking horse sh*t. Can you dig about and find out if Nike are planning on putting them out?

All I can do is put it out there, Paul, although considering how you kissed up so much, they’ll probably definitely look to take of you, now.