SLAM Cover Archives

by Matt Lawyue / @mlawyue

As a journalism major about to graduate, there are three for-sure-as-hell lessons I’ve learned about journalism through four years of schooling and a handful of internships:

1. You don’t become a journalist for the money. Hell, there isn’t even any money to go around.
2. Despite the absence of green, there are always perks to working for a publishing company. Translation: free stuff. And if offered to you, you always take it.
3. It’s a shifting industry. Not to get all Romenesko or Carr on you, but print isn’t necessarily dying. It’s evolving. Part of that evolution is the transition to online. It’s the reason one of my first projects as an editorial intern here at SLAM was to complete and update the cover archives for SLAMonline, the best pound-for-pound basketball web site in the game.

So, to the entire SLAM Fam, I present: a complete and updated Cover Archives.

Every Sixth Man, penned of course by the Editor-In-Chief, that has ever been published in a regular ish of SLAM is now online, accompanied by its cover, from 1 to 137.

(This doesn’t include Punks, Kicks, Streetball, or Olympics).

During my travels through SLAM history, from the shelves of skinny Barkley and adolescent KG, I’ve taken notes to share with the Fam:

— There have been five leaders, five Editor-In-Chief’s, to write The Sixth Man:

Issues 12, Cory Johnson
Issues 338, Tony Gervino
Issues 3987, Russ Bengtson
Issues 88105, Ryan Jones
Issues 106Present, Ben Osborne

— The current leader of cover appearances:

By Player
14 – Kobe Bryant
12 – Allen Iverson
11 – Michael Jordan
11 – Shaquille O’Neal
10 – LeBron James

By Jersey (Team)
19 – L.A. Lakers
13 – Chicago Bulls
10 – Miami Heat
9 – Detroit Pistons
9 – Orlando Magic

— Landmark issues:

Issue 1, May 1994
5th Anniversary Issue, January 1999
50th Issue, April 2001
10th Anniversary Issue, April 2004
100th Issue, August 2006
15th Anniversary Issue, December 2009

— Cover Firsts:

College Player(s) – Issue 9, Allen Iverson with Georgetown or Charles O’Bannon with UCLA
Rookie Class – Issue 15
, ’96-97
Team – Issue 25, N.J. Nets
Woman – Issue 29, Chamique Holdsclaw
High School Players – Issue 62, LeBron James with St. Vincent-St. Mary and Sebastian Telfair with Abraham Lincoln
Coach – Issue 137, John Calipari
College Team – Issue 137, University of Kentucky

— Shaq has been on the cover with three of his four younger superstars: Kobe, Wade and LeBron. Sorry, Penny.

— The Atlanta Hawks are the ONLY team to never make the cover.

If you’re looking to add to your collection, hit up SIMBackissues. Unfortunately, every issue pre-2006 is sold out. You’ll have to hunt around eBay to find the earlier ones.


Knickled & Dimed List
Issue 4. John Starks. March 1995. This was the first time a Knick appeared on the cover. I’m still waiting for the next one.