Originally published in SLAM 70
The 6th Man: You’re probably wondering why you’re looking at two SLAM covers on this page, and I’m gonna tell you why. For starters, there are what, 300-something players in the NBA (not to mention the thousands in college, high school and everywhere else)? And we only do nine issues a year (not including KICKS, or the annual special issue with Michael Jordan on the cover…that’s a joke, people). So that’s nine covers a year to try and satisfy a whole bunch of very deserving players, you (the reader), and us. It’s not that we’ve ever been bribed or anything (although that would be fine—we like Bentleys), but damn near every game one of us goes to, someone is angling for a cover. You know who you are, Antoine. You too, Shawn.
Hence the different covers. We’ve done this before (most recently, issues 39, 42, 49 and 59) and even gone to three (35 and 50) on occasion. It’s a way to make more people—from every category above—happy. But don’t think it’s completely random. The two All-Stars gracing this month’s covers have a lot in common. They’ve both played in both conferences and on both coasts, they’ve both managed to overcome offcourt problems to excel on it, and both were unceremoniously dumped out of the playoffs last season by Shaq and company. Which makes either of them a logical choice to lead the team that finally does manage to dethrone the Lakers.
And while the stories that correspond to each player focus primarily on them as individuals, we here in the SLAM Dome finally decided to put our NBA Finals picks out there where everybody can see them (page 112). I’m not gonna spoil the fun by telling you who anyone picked, but I will tell you that one of our cover subjects probably won’t feel the love. Sorry Jason. Oops.
So, what else is in here? Well, there’s more LeBron coverage, of course. A look at Michael Jordan’s final (probably…we think) NBA season. Some long overdue words from playground legend Pee Wee Kirkland. And our annual Elementals, featuring four players—one from each division—who could make a big difference when playoff time finally rolls around. Oh, it’s here? Stupid lead times. (But you’ve heard that before.)
P.S. Get well soon, Rudy T.