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Like I said, guys, this thing is life changing. Welcome back, Dick Saras episode three, take the show off with some pretty big names, pretty mysterious guys and in a weird way, and we're off to a great start this week. We're put in a little bit of a different twist on it. We're focusing on something that's very near and dear to both of us for different reasons. That's Slam magazine. OK, this episode comes off of a conversation you and I have where you told me that slam is more important to the culture than Sports Illustrated.
And ESPN explains that everybody why you feel that way.
Yes. Is so important to us because it was just all basketball. You look in The Sports Illustrated, ESPN magazine, they gave you a variety of sports. But as somebody who just wanted to take in basketball content, you know, Slam was that magazine for so from kids all the way up until now, made us feel feel a part of the game. Yeah.
You know, this is like the magazine era. And we talk we talk about it a little bit here where how we kind of had to seek these out. And for us, we had the source and later we had XXL, which has a weird synergy with Slam and they're actually related, we find out in this episode.
So these things were like, you know, we saw bodies, we had these all over our house. You put these pictures on our wall, know these were just part of our existence. And for you as a whooper, you know, obviously you want it to be in this.
And then once upon a time, I was hoping.
But then later, you know, as a journalist, it represented something else, a whole different significance. So I'm with you. I mean, I know in my life I've had way more slam magazines than I've ever had Sports Illustrated and cared about who was on the cover more and who they covered in the coverage. So, yeah, it felt like a good place to go for this. And again, it's a little bit different. We're not talking to the singular guest here, but we are talking about something that matters to us and matters to this culture.
And I think it's a great place to take a convo and talk to two legends, two legends in the industry and some legends at Slim with Russ and Scoop here. So, yeah, man, let's get to it. Let's give it to him.
I want to introduce our guest today. We got Scoop Jackson, former writer and editor at Slam, used to work with the source who is currently at ESPN, and Ross Bernstein, former writer, former editor in chief Eslam. He's worked with GQ Complex, so collected, which I know from way back as ISIS SportsNet NY and on and on and on. Fellas, how ya doing? First of all, thank you for being here and have this conversation with us.
We're good. I'm good.
I can speak for us. I'm good. You're good. Thank you for having us, man.
So you got you guys when you hear someone like say that we're talking about an all time great, you know, no matter how the debate settles out or whatever, but putting the ball in the bucket, this guy is up there with anybody. When you hear somebody like that say, yo, the thing you guys put your blood, sweat and tears in for so many years is more important than these big brains to the to what do you how do you feel about that?
What you guys think about that?
I think we did our job right. Because that that's that's the line. I think, you know of the problem because I'm in his Alcalay we were trying to secure we were looking at what was being done. Well, we were looking at what wasn't being done and what wasn't being represented from a policy standpoint when you dealt with sports, specifically basketball. And we just tried to unapologetically do that. And if Kevin felt that way and not only kept but a lot of other players and even the generation before you, we wanted to be that that that publication that connected directly to them, not just in the way the stories were told, but of who we would tell the stories about, you know, say like people would not pay attention to the playground, let people not pay attention to the Non Hall of Fame, former NBA ABA superstars.
People wouldn't pay attention to a lot of the female basketball players who, you know, they will bypass and go straight for this. This box of individuals telling basketball stories in the box is so much bigger. And our theme was to recruit those people in a whole story of basketball, not just the breaking news story of basketball, the entire story, basketball. So not just with Kevin, but if we did our job, there's generations of players that are playing right now to you feel the exact same way?
I mean I mean, I think what Kevin said I mean, that validates what what we believed in from the start. And I think like, you know, and I can't speak for Scoop, but I can guess, you know, us coming up same way where Kevin was saying, like, you're looking for basketball content, maybe it's not even in every issue of S.I., you know, like you're waiting to see what MJ was wearing on the court.
If you don't have WGAN or if you're not Schoop living in Chicago, you know, you don't you don't get to see that.
So, you know, the idea of a publication just covering basketball and all of it, you know, from the start to that's that's, I think, important to like. The model or the player that first issue even was based on wasn't Michael Jordan. M.J. was retired. It was Stephon Marbury who is in high school at Lincoln. You know, like we were able to start. And that's on Dennis Page, the publisher, like, you know, literally build at that ground level with a kid who, like maybe everyone didn't know about quite yet, but everyone should know about and that kind of, you know, fed everything that came after.
So how was that first issue with Stephon Marbury? What was that? It was a whole roll out.
Like you remember us.
You know, I watched because I wasn't there in the very, very, very beginning, like I found when I first saw a slam. I found it on a newsstand, like in a grocery store in Delaware where I was living at the time at like 2:00 in the morning. And I'm flipping through it like, man, this exists like I need to get involved with this, like, this is the place I want to work. And I basically just bothered everybody in the office until.
All right, we'll give you something.
Right. You know, from what our stuff was like, I think stuff was I want to say he was the first, like, punk or whatever that was about.
Elzbieta say he was the first high school guy we had done. And so we had we had a relationship. It was still really up to him even doing a story about, you know, we had a relationship with and building up. And that's the one thing that made it easy for us to do in a position to do in high school that we said we established a voice for high school basketball players that nobody really was doing. Only time you get any high school coverage, maybe St2.
Smith highlighted players who to watch out for is all American team. And Sports Illustrated did the faces in the crowd and that was it. But we were given high school basketball players, the voice and stuff, because it was New York Islamicized and he was the easy get for the first one. So once they got to Georgia Tech, got into the league, it was easy. Sailor. Hey, man, you know, we want to get you a together to do it.
He's like, man, shit. Y'all like family. I'm all right. It's all right. That's Kevin. That's what it was like getting Steph is we already had to establish a relationship with you. And the one thing that worked on our behalf was always allowing the players to be themselves. That's it. Like his uniform, you know, only thing is you got to play you for anything else you want to do is cool. So, you know, when you when you come in with your eyes, you come in with your role, you come in whatever shoes untied.
You know how you want to roll it.
Yeah, I think I want to say there was an unofficial like don't smile on the cover rule that people actually feel like they would come in for a shoot and be like, I know not to smile.
I feel like one of the first ones was maybe Kobe on that Shaq and Kobe cover with that.
But that was like I was like tiny. But it also wasn't like a happy smile.
It was like, oh, I'm fucking with you. Smile. It's still it's still made sense. But I mean, going back to a school said it's like we do that stuff in CGY cover and like I think they cut the sleeves off the shooting shirts themselves at to shoot or CG wearing the backwards visor on the cover. Like that was stuff that that definitely was not happening in, like mainstream sports publications, you know, and dropping a little, you know, when hoop, like, airbrushed Iverson's tattoos off on the cover.
Yeah, I remember. Like, how do you even do that?
Like, do you think the kids are going to look at this and not know what Allen Iverson is like? Television with no sleeves every day. How do you think you're even going to get away with that?
But like, you know, people will look at it in such a different way. And like I remember and I'm betting this happened to scoops sometimes in locker rooms, you know, like beat writers would come up to us sometimes and be like. Say something about us being fans, and they kind of meant it in like a derogatory way like this, and it's like, no, I will own that. Yes, we are. And that's why we cover this the way we do know, like there's an infinite amount of space to be positive about this stuff and to, like, you know, give.
Yeah. Like what scoop they give players a voice like, yeah, you guys can go out and chase whatever you want to chase. But, you know, we don't we don't have to play that game. We definitely have to play that game the same way.
His fighting was the reason CGY and Steph, not what they got in the way. It was because of the Allen Iverson cover about who's afraid, Allen Iverson. And he was like, I remember doing a photo shoot. They specifically asked, can we walk the ice? Like, I did feel like you should do your thing. And that's like shit like that blew my mind because they were never able to do anything like that.
And you can probably trace like a ten covered stretch where guys were increasingly big pieces.
Like for later and later I was like, oh my God. Like, your chain is worth more than this photo studio.
Right, exactly. But they were getting a magazine, so this is their first. You get to cover the source.
That's that's exactly what it felt like as a kid coming up that who felt the freedom. Every time I looked at Islam magazine, you know, as a as a basketball player, you get put into this box of of what role you need to play. And you look at other players in the league and you see how they operate. And then you look at Islam and just say, oh, yeah, this is more of a street ball field. This is what I enjoy playing basketball.
So a lot of kids open that up. And our dream was to just be in a slam no matter who was in the back of the book or whoever was in the cover. We felt like just being in that book was important for any whooper. Did you guys you guys felt that way as you start to elevate? I'm sure I would say for me, I definitely felt that way.
The funny thing was there was definitely a different feel of players in like sort of the slam generation, which I would say would have started with like Stutts class, like the ninety five high school class and up then with guys prior to that, you know, like someone like a Charles Barkley who was already a global superstar before Islam even started. I think they looked at us maybe as kind of like, oh, who are these guys like what are they trying to get done?
But for someone like a Steph, for someone like a Kobe, you know, later on LeBron, you guys like you know, I think we grew up with you and you guys grew up with us. And I think, you know, we talk about the covers like. I almost look at those as album covers and like we had Jonathan Mannion shoot a bunch later on, I remember like going to Kevin, going to his house to shoot him in Minnesota with Jonathan.
And Jonathan would always flip through his book. I don't know if you ever did that with you, Kevin, out of here. Yeah. Jonathan before.
OK, so he would show like all this stuff. And by then he had already shot reasonable doubt. He shot, like, both DMX covers and like the DMX stuff like Blue CGS Mind, like CGY was just like, you know, oh my God. So it's like you have someone on Kevin's level, you know, guys on your level being as blown away by that stuff as we are by you guys. So it's like I think it helps put things on an even footing which maybe made the covers work better.
Our man, I got a lot of stuff to say, man, and it's kind of crazy finding out that the motto of Slam is based on Stephon Marbury. I don't know if you were shocked to hear that. I know I was.
But it makes sense when you think about it. Steph is quintessential New York point guard plays with that swagger. You know, you can see the city on him when he gets on the court. I thought it was interesting that they call him Steph throughout this. And then, you know, in this generation, Steph is a whole different person, whole different thing. And obviously no disrespect to that, Steph. But you can see that they have that affection towards Stephon.
You have a relationship there as well, right? You guys did the doc. You've done some work.
I'm sure you've met him, you know, in NBA circles even before that. What was the impact on you throughout your career?
Yeah, it was it was definitely interesting to hear the stuff stories and to realize his celebrity at that age and to do the documentary and to really sit down and talk with stuff about his journey from high school prospect to a potential NBA Hall of Famer. He was under the lights early on and slam so that early on that every game, every moment that he lived under was everybody was scrutinized. And so to have that under him and to excel the way he did was special and to see his journey, you know, as a younger player who was starting to understand the league and starting to understand different players, it was Steph was one of those guys that was most watched TV.
I always like the swagger he played with. And, you know, obviously his journey gets real fascinating when he goes to China.
But like you said, it's crazy. He had this amount of celebrity, a 17, 18 years old. And this is before, you know, we would know about Mickey Williams dunking on people. We would know about about Zion. Right.
We knew about when I was 15, it was like so Steph was just killing in his city, his city. So happened to be New York, but made such an impact that he became like a national star.
That's a crazy life to live at seventeen even before the Internet.
And they did right by him. And that's how it goes. You know, you do right by somebody.
And I look out later. So they did I was shocked to hear that. But it made sense.
Like it clicked when I said yeah, for sure. So I said, man, let's get back to the convo and see what else these guys got to say.
When you first got covered as a as an all-American. What was that like? And then eventually you got to cover. A year later. Two years later. What was it like for you?
Like you're the only one in his chariot has been on a slam cover. What's that feeling like? You know, watching those guys? Man, it's it's an incredible feeling.
You know, first off, because as a competitor, you know, you made it somewhere.
Once you slam, you know, like like school said this earlier, like you not to me. People outside of your city and your town who you were so to to feel like you were seeing nationally. This is before social media. Obviously, it was always these Renkin services when I was coming up. But to be in a magazine like that as a high schooler, because I got I got in the punk section when I was a senior and I had a nice little I had a teacher in there and they did the photo shoot in my high school.
And, you know, once everybody knew I was doing the shoot for slam, my popularity just went through the roof, you know, and I was new at that school, you know, that was like my first I was like in the first week I was at the school, I had a photo shoot for Slam and so that everybody understood what that was. And then after the season being set for the all-American feature, it was just like it was one of those things that.
That cover is going to be is going to be hung up in my house once I build, my kids are going to understand what that meant. So like you say, it is just a part of the culture now is just deep into culture. Now, you guys just solidified yourself just organically. And it feels good to be a part of something, you know, especially as a form of cover art form, a form of cover athlete and then have features and then just knowing you guys, it was just incredible, man.
I always felt like you had a different respect in who were like in the journalism world. They might have looked at you like the little brother or whatever, but in the house were like, you guys could get anybody. And it felt like, you know, you had Kobe on the cover. You had Brian on the cover earlier. You had Kevin on the cover earlier. You had all these people. What was your process of like finding these players before everybody?
Because this is before, you know, overtime and all these other Instagram accounts that would show us this random kid that can dunk in South Carolina? Like what was your process of kind of weeding out who you felt deserved a stamp or whatever?
I mean, you know, I'll take on a little bit of that and then scoop. You know, I know you got some like going back even earlier with like I but, you know, I think this goes back to something Kevin said to where it's like you had tons of compelling people in basketball, but the way it was covered, so, so many people fell through the cracks or so many people, just like there was no outlet to give them the coverage they deserved.
So, like, I think we were like. We were able to feast on it, you know, like you go to the first McDonald's game I ever went to was 96, you know, that's Kobe in Jackson. That's Mike Bibby.
That's you know, you could build a whole issue just out of those dudes, Tim Thomas, Jermaine O'Neal. Like, that's a ridiculous high school class. So, you know, we were able to do stuff with guys then and then you look even Islam, the way it built. You know, our first punks was one page and one guy recovering, one high school guy, an issue later on, like less than 10 years later, we're putting high school guys on the cover.
You know, we've got like an entire punk section that was kind of like basically hype, but in the back, but with all high school kids. So I think to sort of what Scoop was saying earlier, like guys wanted to be in it. And as we stretched out that high school coverage, you could cover a guy in high school and then cover him again in college and then again once they reached the pros.
And then you would have had that relationship, like you say, with stuff. Yeah. So for someone like Kevin or obviously for Kobe or for LeBron, by the time they reached the pros, we've already done a couple of pieces on them. So we called, you know, they're like, yo, you've been riding with us since the start. It's not like someone being like, hey, we want to do something on you now. And then you're like, wait, where have you been?
Like, for the rest of my entire basketball playing career is a quick story on my end.
And it goes to what you ask asking in my whole existence was slammed started off exactly that way, talking about high school basketball and we got to find out about it for me. My first assignment, if Tony ever gave Tony and I came to the exact same issue, issue number three. And Tony's first assignment was I covered the Nike Basken High School basketball kid. And this is nineteen ninety fourth. Vince Carter, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Shea Cotton, you know, say I'm like all these cats and 90s high school basketball kids and Tony's like, I need a twelve hundred words toilet.
I'm looking at all these kids and for the first time seeing a play and whooping, I'm like, this is not a fucking twelve hundred word story. Do you got Star. She does it out of, you know, these kids who are like George Garber said, gee whiz averaged twenty seven a game. It was ridiculous. And I'm like no.
So I turned in a thirty five hundred word story plus one horror story I didn't write or twelve thousand were like you I said, but my point was that there was something here and when you start dropping names of high school ballplayers from there just to name it, Sports Illustrated will talk about this sport news when talking about CAP, no NBA magazine's topic and there was no website shit. There was no way of looking at issue. These cars were basically obsolete outside of where they locally play basketball.
The U.S. was kind of coming up a little bit, but it wasn't a big deal. We found out about these caps during the summer basketball camp, during the summer, during the time when would be young high school superstars were able to play at a point know, you know, high school stuff. I mean, you come off the bench to go play on our squad for the summer. You know, you get a little Russy going to ParkerVision in L.A. Watching, like Paul Pierce played is magic can get abused.
Before you went to Kansas last year, that's how we found out about these young players, does ground work and stuff like that. But then using the back of the book to tell stories about and if you look at what I'm saying is that, one, you don't get cast like me looking like me walking in as a journalist. That fuck with them from the beginning, like me, you for real, you, which I was, you know, they won, they don't see that to the fact that you can conjugate a verb and put a sense together fucking ahead of second.
So you're able to write stories about them. And then when these guys see you at least meeting them and recognizing them when nobody outside of their state or city recognizes them on a national level, they fuck with you for a long time after that. And that's how we got to know these players. But doing stuff about high school ballplayers and can't and highlighting them like I mean, you are watching for this kid, Paul Pierce Eagle. He's going to be the truth, no pun intended.
But you know what I'm saying? You do shit like that. And then when you woke up back up a Paul Pierce, you know, when he said Boston Globe, let me go it up. You know, this is easy. It's real easy for me because you could because you respected him for the very good. And some of it is to like, yeah. Do you want to go through, like, 19 layers of people to try and get Patrick Ewing do a photo shoot that he's not even going to want to do?
Or do you want to, you know, look for the next guy's coming who are going to be in the pros in like two years anyway? You know, and the guys who are really not getting coverage like that. And Scoop is funny you say that because I feel like you probably. Are responsible for like more writers than like Kobe was for basketball players. But you probably did the same thing.
Seriously, though, yeah, I thank you, but he has to go through those.
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Man, I'm happy to Scoop Jackson decided to kind of throw his weight around a little bit about the impact he's had loved, you know what I mean?
I love that because I know from the media and I know talking to you, it's different for you when somebody from the culture walks in, even though they're media and they do their job as to beat.
Right. Or whatever. But like when you see Logan Murdoch or Marcus Thompson, it's a lot different.
And for a guy like you that go back and forth with the media, you know, I don't that's it's got to be refreshing to be able to talk to do and be like, you know, to listen to him, put you up on some music or something.
So tell people about it, because I know you've told me, but I feel like people need to hear your side of that a little bit more. Most definitely.
Scoop has always been respected amongst NBA circles. And to know that you got somebody in there that wants to see you do well from that side.
I think that that was a key for Slam because they had a lot of guys that really trusted them and supported them with everything they did. So whenever I see Slim, no matter if it was playing or, you know, Russ or I knew that they were led by school, you know, and I knew that a lot of guys looked up to school as influence. And I just respected him for his knowledge of the game. Has his experience with different generations and who and just him being there, you know, just being in a in the gym, being at practices and really feeling the enthusiasm that he showed for the game, you know?
So I just respected him for just his for everything he brought to the table. And I know he, you know, had a lot of influence on a lot of guys coming up.
And I felt like, you know, from this conversation, you guys, you probably took a lot from him and looked at his experiences, as well as a lovely man, like the language he was able to talk with made it easier for media that came out to him to be able to do that and to see somebody, you know, from the coach or somebody of color be that big.
In the world of media, it's like, yo is you can actually aspire for that.
I know it's funny being on the other side, because a lot of times we come into these interviews and we come into these sessions blind and I'll meet Artest, I'll meet Hoopers, I'll meet players or whatever. And when I finally see me and I'm not just like some weird name on an email begging for that time or whatever, and then I talk. I talk and I look, I look. And I might show up dressed in whatever I'm dressed in.
And it's like it's a different level of comfort and it helps. It's crazy how you can work your way up in that world. And being a person of color, being a minority for a while, it's a struggle, right?
It's a detriment. But when you get around these other people who are color these other minorities and these are the people you need to speak to, all of a sudden you can get to places with them that other people can't. And it's like, oh, now, now is to my benefit.
So I know school is interesting to hear him talk about his experience with that and how he's influenced the game so much in that way.
And so I was just happy they brought that up because I might have forgot to ask because they was talking. So all these crazy stories they tell you. And so it is dope to hear that and that he knows that.
And one thing that stood out to me about their experience is the amount of support and freedom that they had within a corporation, within the business, and to let school kind of lead that and tell those hip hop stories. That was subtle hip hop stories underneath the basketball aspect of it. It was definitely a moment. And to have a monopod and to get those experiences, you know, how they see in their perspective. It brought me back to a lot of amazing times.
Yes, it's when you let people put their thumbprint, when you trust people's knowledge, when you trust their professionalism and you get great product and you don't always get that trust from bigger companies, bigger corporations. So it's you know, that slam had this kind of like us against the world mentality. It shows it shows both in the way they approached it and in the product we got on the other end. And it's funny that the entity is so attached to Iverson because he's like that, right?
He's that to a tee. And that's, you know, buy the get to talk a little bit more about him. But like, I know there's some obvious influence on your game. I see the double cross.
I see I see the carry. You do. You know, it's not a carry will never be a that's the Iverson cross he can carry when he did and he got MJ with it. So they let it rock. But Iverson was such a huge like Justin, I can just go on for ten or fifteen minutes and go about what I took from Iverson and try to use what he brought to the game and put it in my eyes. And I felt like every kid across the world did that.
But Slam understood exactly what Iverson was about and they helped tell let for authentic story around Iverson, even though he was young into the league, the number one pick. I think that he really trusted them to tell his full, authentic story from his side. And, you know, and that touch from, you know, Hoopers down to Artest, down to anybody they can understand.
Iverson, Iverson, one of those weird talents where what he does doesn't doesn't necessarily fit like in a team game. It doesn't necessarily fit within the frameworks, the traditional framework of like who?
And you know, John Thompson, their whole story is like, yo, just go be Allen Iverson and he turns I with Slam did the same thing with, like, his enemies, with his story and saying it's funny how it mirrors you and I come on with the fro and the chain and just be I and everybody reap the benefits of his impact.
Like people idolize Jordan and a war issues. But Iverson represented something different and idolising for a whole different way. You know, he's five, 10. He had his wearing Reeboks like white and red Reebok's for no reason.
And that was unheard of. It's like I'm not six 11 like you, but I was like, I can hop around and get the cross off like like when I get on the court, you know.
So his impact is like so far and wide. You see it now.
I hate when people say he couldn't play or he wouldn't be as good in today's games. Like, that's insanity.
Like he's the way he got to the rim, the floating game he had like he he mastered the floater from so many angles, like he being quite like you won't let I I saw like this in like come on.
I mean, that's absurd for somebody to be five and be the number one pick in the draft and for him to actually turn out to be a Hall of Famer like that is just unheard of. His athleticism and his natural talent could last an entire year, I think, and his personality and style would touch in any area had any air.
So, you know, that was that was a huge moment back in those days. Yeah.
And, you know, like I said, it makes sense that him and slam go hand in hand and was part of their fight to get them, you know, to to represent him.
And I think they represent the same energy, you know, the same kind of like we know what we doing.
Just trust us that we don't kill it for you. And they was able to do that, you know, and it's funny.
It's funny seeing his game and somebody like you, because, you know, traditionally you by sitting had it, but you got a lot of it.
And I know we talked about it before, so I see it. But, you know, it's the idea of you kind of watching the highlights. I was like you. I got to get in. And people tell your commander way too tall for that one. Yeah.
Because you see someone like Iverson and he plays bigger than he really is. So I'm as a kid, you know, I'm looking up to somebody. I'm five nine and I want to be six foot point guard not knowing I'm a grow until six, seven, six, eight. So in my mind, you know, I'm still thinking I'm a little man at that age, so, you know, but to see something on TV and try to emulate it outside in a couple hours, that's what I was for a lot of kids in our neighborhood.
And then to realize that he comes from that same fabric that we come from.
Yeah, that was you, right? That was part of that.
That was a huge part of Ayumi top five point per game averages all time until you Ambron came around. Yeah. Knocked him out.
He's seven now, but he's a mid scorer titles. He's probably like second of all time he might be second.
He got I think the four of them. Yeah, four times.
I know you value that. I feel like it's not as valued as much as it used to be. But I know you value the scoring title.
Yeah, well, it's hard to score in the NBA. We've had two little debates and I. Doesn't matter.
Yeah, but yeah, it's hard to be the one to score in the NBA, you know. So you take that with a badge and just bad on the right there.
You got to respect it. But yeah man with this let's get back to this combo.
Is it true that you threatened to quit over getting him on the cover? Is that can you tell us that story? Yeah, it wasn't. It was I did threaten to say I would leave, but I don't it was it was probably a veiled threat.
I don't know if you know my wife, but I went to the you know, the no serious in all honesty, I had I got to see, obviously, the McInally because I gotten a call about him, like sobered up the Kinealy. And I went down to go see him. And when I saw I only saw the second half of the game, his plane ticket, Leakiness, all I need to see. And I called Dennis, the publisher, and I was like, yo, I literally said I seen the future basketball too.
And we got to put him on the court. And he's like, never happen.
You know, I'm like, you've got to do this. Like, this is what this is like. The fifth issue, maybe nine issue number, not nine, you know, and it's like we never had a college basketball player on honest magazine. I'm not going to do it. It's not going to make any money. And I don't want you to buy my own story. But there's another rule of thumb you you want to remember. The other rule is don't put a white guy with a white background on the cover to make.
Yeah, right. But anyway, so Dennis Rodman back and forth about this. And I said, look, man, if you don't do this out. And he was like, OK, you know what, I would do it, but he did it to prove a point. I you know, I could get like I don't want to say super arrogant, but I could get super. Super cocky to the point that I think I know more about writing, that I actually do my journalism.
I actually do. And I would tell another motherfucker how to do a job. And I'm trying to tell Dennis what's in the best interest of this magazine, as if this is the first magazine business that is done 30 years.
That is before I even got there. But nothing was ever proved. Your point. This magazine is not going to sell, but I will put them on the cover to prove a point. You might notice why these are his exact words. You might notice Ripshin, but you don't know dispositioned. So he did pull out and I was on the cover of magazines cover. But Allen on the East Coast, 8:00 a.m. on the West Coast and put a key, a large one, the rest of the country global.
It wound up being the worst selling issue we ever had every now.
And he pulled appointees like, say, this one, I'm telling you what the fuck you talking about. But that issue is the reason we were able to establish relations with Allen Iverson because of us like that was at this point was technically put him on the cover. But we were the first persons to humanize out and obviously treat him like a human being and put him on the cover and give him the space and basically celebrate what we thought he was going to become.
Now, mind you, this meant next to nothing as far as actual suits, because the issue 30 to me gave him the blow out. He was, I think, eight hours late for that shoot, maybe 12 hours later, I forget either eight or 12, something absurd.
And then the next time we shot him for the cover after that, he didn't show up at all like me and Clay before I drove to Philly, set everything up and I went to check for him, was like, hey, so what?
Can you get them back? No work on his own time. Yeah. CLAQUE claim that one. And he was there for the one. He was like eight hours or 12 hours late for his.
But you notice, you know, this is real to any time slam needed an uptick in sales. That's when did it be like, let's get Allen Iverson on Allen Iverson cover was the cover was happening. It might have been a nightmare. But, you know, like the first time I think I met Allen was bringing copies of the Who's Afraid of Allen Iverson cover into the locker room when the Sixers are playing the Knicks. And I gave him a copy of it and he gives me this huge hug.
That that was like that was unchartered territory for me. I wasn't getting hugged by NBA players, but like now it's like any time I see, I, you know, it's just so much love. Like, obviously, like. Timing is a whole separate issue, but I think I'm sure you guys can do an entire podcast episode with stories about that, but there you go.
Kevin, let's ask the question about input's we have the ability to make. You all feel a certain way. You know what I'm saying? And it wasn't I, I think it wasn't about necessarily just like being on the cover, it was about the stories that we were telling about you all that was seen through the lens of basketball, you know what I'm saying? And it gave you a glimpse of how you kind of inexistent think how you all felt about yourself and how you all felt about the game of basketball.
And we were somehow translating that in a way that no other publication. So it wasn't just you made the comment. You all knew what this is going to be about. Forget the cells.
You know, you even like the relationship with Alan. Like not that it's secondary, but what that cover, I think, did like it validated us in the eyes of people who are into who once they found out, like, really what I could do and who he was, which I think made it. Better and a little bit easier, like you could draw a straight line from that Allen Iverson cover to this to the reference and cover or the Chemica Holdsclaw cover, you know, we put Chemica on when she was still in Tennessee.
And I think Pat Summitt rest in peace. I think she almost murdered Tony when she saw it because we put her in a Knicks uniform and like God knows what, the NCAA violations were there, you know? But I think, like, you could trace that I cover to, you know, maybe certainly skipped like so maybe on a cover and you'd be like, who is that? But wait there on a slab cover. So I, I should probably know who this person is.
So tell me about the 96 rookie photo shoot and why you only did one more after the speak about the first one. No, because that was such an iconic iconic group. All of those guys turned out to be is, what, five or six Hall of Famers in that group.
And not only that, that image that you are used is like the image that comes back up when people talk about their draft class.
The funny thing and the craziest thing to me about that cover now is you look at that cover and I don't think you even necessarily notice right away that Allen Iverson is not on it like that class is so deep and so good that it's like, oh, shit, Kobe and can be Antwaun and all these guys. And then you're like, wait a minute, where's where's I? Where was I?
Right. He did I was going to say it was the classic two words of slam I left alone.
Yeah, I remember Tony. I remember Tony calling the office and saying that happened. And it was like, you got to be kidding me. You have got to be kidding me.
Tony was losing his mind. I was I was there with you. The way you think that you can actually do an entire podcast on that. Come. Just the actual shooting of that cup, if we told you the whole story behind it, could be a whole another 45 minutes. It should be should be a documentary review. An issue.
Yeah, no, seriously, the only part of the story I always remember is Tony having to tell Todd Fuller like, no, no, no, no.
You got no, you're not in this. So, like, honestly, like, if you look at that cover and you look at the draft, I think we did a better job than James did.
You know, it's only like 10 guys or 11 guys or whatever. And like we are guys going deeper in the draft.
But we brought, like Nash and Jermaine, like there were guys who turned out because we had to try to make sure we had to pick the ball out of here because the NBA did not know we were there. They couldn't agree with it. We had to go into the hotel and under assumed name like this was this was rookie transition, I'm guessing this year in Orlando, you transition, right?
OK. And the NBA league had a photography.
Come on. Well, we know that sick. Right? Come on. I was like, look, y'all can't tell nobody. You hear this has to be this is a cover straight up guerrilla photography type shit and but we live it. He said, look, I think he gave us ten minutes for us. If he was like a total of ten minutes, he said, you need to tell me exactly what players you want and I will bring them to you.
You all are going to set up an alley behind you. It was the says, which is which is like super crazy because, like, what did you think that people would think when the magazine came out? There's going to be like, oh, they got all these guys to come somewhere else. Like, obviously, eventually they're going to figure this out. Right.
And figure it out. And we had to literally we in a bar the night before, literally just getting out the players we had where we want to position. You only got ten minutes. So we got to place players as it happens. It would do as it happens, that's Tony to talk to you about politics and then coming out and I'm running around with a lot about it because Tony Don, Don West was a creative director.
They wanted to look like they've been hoping. So they wanted to has been down on I'm sorry, dude, I don't even know what about cats running around? And we forgot we had a broken arm, so we got a cast on his up. So trying to shoot like, wait a minute, we can't shoot this cat with a broken arm. We got a high Kobe's case. So this man is going on in like ten minutes. No, Kevin, you know, we've all take pictures for, you know, they don't have entertainment.
That's all you had, though, was ten minutes. That's all we had was ten minutes to get that iconic shot done.
And I feel like I feel like that's the answer of why we didn't do it again for so long.
You know, like, I don't even know, like, how often they did, like, rookie orientation, like today even do that every year. That's every year. So rookie. So people who don't know rookie transition, that's when right before the season, all the rookies get together who were drafted, some guys who might have missed it the year before we go in and go through classes, we can't leave it all. You can have any guess, but we do the photo shoots.
We do everything we need to do for your cards, everything, cards, we signed cards, we interviews, take group photos, everything, and we can transition.
So, yeah. So I understand why I was such a tough event to get all those guys in one photo.
That's funny. It's funny you say you, you I just came down because I was talking to you as someone walking the other day and he was, I asked him if they whooped during that and it's like no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.
And I think, like Jermaine said, it was like the first time he actually got his uniform. Yeah, you played in Jersey, but he wasn't even at the draft, so he wouldn't have had it. That right.
Here's the here's the here's the back end of the story. That same week in the night before was getting out like this cover to get ready for this. That was the night Reconceptualized magazine sale that happened the night before.
Yo, yo, yo yo ended up staying at home.
There's a documentary in its cover weekend. We was crazy, too.
Like, I didn't realize this until recently. I looked it up for whatever reason. Reasonable doubt dropped the day after the draft.
But you had the ninety six draft and then one of the best albums of all time in two days gigas that time.
Right. He's got a couple little dates like that.
And Kevin, you're going to love this because he's your coach. Now when we found out Allen Iverson wasn't coming because Allen was supposed to be on the cover right next to Stephon Marbury and we had to replace him.
And so we were going to move Steve Nash from the back end of the game, four two front and downs.
And I've got to Tony was like, no, we can't put him on the front of Mexicans here is too big.
And he's going to come off the L look like, oh, God, you said you want to move the name the Maxime to.
And we did not do that, even if I could believe that too, because there were conversations about blocking parts of the logo going way past that. I feel like the two thousands is like Dennis. No one's going to not know what this magazine is reestablished now.
Dennis is good. Not bad. It's OK. There's so many stories about cover government, but we must do we have any idea who was going to be what it was?
No, I don't think so. I mean, I just think, like, you can you can look back and stuff like that and say, like what it turned into. But, you know, who knew that even Kobe and Jermaine were going to work out the way they did? Because all you had to go on was was Kevin Garnett from the year before. Yeah. So it's just like the idea of like a six six two guard going from high school to the NBA like that seemed insane.
And nobody saw Colby coming. Nobody you know, who did you know who did? The one person who did. And shout out to Tom Konchalovsky, who I think scouted high school, starting with, like, bitter old Moses.
But you said something. He said something before the ninety six draft drafted about Kobe having no weaknesses.
Wow. OK, and. I mean, look, he dropped he dropped to the Hornets like, you know, you're reading that draft.
He should have been top ten. I mean, come on, no doubt about that.
You know, I hate that. I hate when people redraft things because it's like whatever you got to go on what people knew at the time. And to me, like, sure, you could say Kobe had a better career than Iverson. But if Philly picked Kobe, if Kobe had to play back where he played high school ball as a high school kid for that seventy six ERs team. Oh, no.
I mean, I'm sure he turns out fine. Yeah, I was more ready but yeah.
I mean, everybody felt sort of perfect. But it is cool. I think. So Kobe outside of a Laker uniform, I mean obviously right now so.
But he had to play in L.A..
Yeah. It was meant to be. I think the only person the only person who probably didn't follow the first was Vladi, who probably smoke like a whole carton of cigarettes before he decided he would take that train from L.A. to Chicago.
One man, I hope someone threw him like an extra like ten million at some point later on to be like, you know, if you let us do this, we made a lot of money off that. Here you go to get it.
That to me, you came when you made the Hall of Fame. Let's be honest. That's all it was. Let me ask you a quick question. Who came up with the title already enough for the Fuji's at the time? That you?
That's a good question. I don't think so. But with if you go back, I mean, we were obviously pullet. We were pulling so many headlines and cover lines from whatever we were listening to at the moment or whatever was even out.
That's my that's my go to right there.
I feel like that's what he said it was. It's from. Right.
So if you flip through back issues, a slam, you can figure out exactly when we all started listening to Outkast in the office just based off headlines, I feel like there was probably a whole issue with all Outkast headlines with that one.
Whoever did that was really down for that coverage. Oh, it was perfect. It was perfect. That's all of it.
As much as the gatefold shot. And that's the thing like, you know, going back to, like, saying how like some covers, like had to sort of marinate and like some stuff like. Eventually wouldn't be proven false until a week later. That was one that got proven true. And even more true as time went on. Exactly. You know, it's like obviously like I had an amazing rookie year. Twan had a great rookie year, Steph, but like other guys had to build to it.
I mean, Jermaine took four years before he got to Indiana and, you know, all of a sudden was able to do the things he probably could have done in Portland.
Right. If they played him. You know, Carrie Kittles was great.
That's the crazy thing to me, is like you look at that cover now, you're going to look at so many other guys and like to me, like there's kids now who don't know who carry Kittles is like, yeah, he had he was damn good for a decade in the league.
Yeah. Let me ask you a question. What was he, a class that came along, if you could think of we do justice to we do. In that exact same cover. Twenty three, OK, from boss, a man we put we put Dakhla one cover already with that job with him on it.
That's what I thought was going to get the treatment next.
OK, so if you if you had it to keep, you would have done it. You would be or would you give them all space instead of creating something else?
See, that's the challenge, right? Yeah, that's a challenge. As a fan, I would love to see that every year. OK, but I understand trying to, you know, do different things each and every covid. But as a fan, I would enjoy to see that every time.
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Man, so did you have a stack of slam magazines at the crib when he was younger, like what was he doing with all this? Because I know I had a bunch I was ripping out pages, putting them on my wall. I was doing the whole nine. Like I said, I ran off with them before, like I had to have.
So what was you doing? You stacking these up at the group?
Muslim experience was just walking into a 7-Eleven and literally sitting on the floor, going through the to the pages. You know, when you go to go to 7-Eleven once a week and once a month, sometimes you don't even you might miss an issue. So you said no, I used to sit there and just read through the issues. And then eventually I started getting some sent to my house and I started taking the posters out.
So it was a really, really evolved for me because it's like, damn, I walk past out and you see somebody on the cover and it's like, yo, this ll cool. And then you start sifting through and you become a fan and you start showing that loyalty to a publication. And I felt that way with Islam. So, you know, from seeing who was in the punk section to turn out the posters just to just to like collecting them after a while.
You know, I think it all all evolved, but it's just that Chase was just amazing.
You know, I can remember sitting there with the it was the a month when Semak took it off the glass in the All-Star Game.
And you can see everybody's face just like, yeah, I remember that.
And I was just I remember just staring at the picture, like in all that shit, like, this is a perfect picture and I had to have it on my wall and I ripped it out of Islam.
Is you sitting at the at the gas station, at the liquor store reading? It is crazy to me.
But but like we've all been I did I did a joint, the little postcard and you had to bill me later.
You said it. You'll get a couple of the mail for me. You know, I think that a couple of times like doing anything for them. So you had to have them write. It's real serious, man. Yeah.
And then I started. So once once I started to you know, you get a little recognition as a baller, you know, my whole thing was like, yo, I need to get in this punk section.
So so my thing was they had once I've made it to a level where I was like, I need to see if I can get this. It was just like, you know, that was probably the most exciting time.
You know, that night before knowing I had a photo shoot and knowing when this was going to job, I just knew everybody was going to look at it, you know, I'm saying so.
And I knew how many core basketball fans I Slim had. And after a while that I started, I started to get so big. It was just like I was seeing everybody, all types of people who didn't even watch hoop like that. I started to just because of the pitches, the shoes, just just how it looked, the aesthetic of it. It was just amazing, too. So that's what I love about Slam, too.
It got bigger than basketball, right? But it stayed in basketball.
It never left that were you know, even when it got bigger, it was like, nah, we're still telling hoop stories. We're still tracking these dudes down. We're finding out who's better before everybody else. Even now, when it's not necessarily a magazine online pop, they're still finding all the important kids. They're still talking to our favorite players.
And they'll always be that authority and hope to me.
They'll always be it because of that, because, like, look at us, we're whose heads and look at how the experience we can literally sit in the liquor store, in the grocery store or whatever and just flip through that shit like you get lost.
Yeah. You just got at the end. Your choice is crazy. Yo, Adidas. Like what?
And it's like, you know, that's our experience.
So yeah, man, it's no different from you though, because it's like you just kind of assume like you just walk around Okogie like I'm a being shit on it.
But you know, you was over there like nah man they better call me bro.
What I think every player was that way because it's showcase the best of the best, you know, and it wasn't just the most popular Hoopers, it was just literally the best basketball players, you know, it was like you really had to, you know, you really had to be nice.
And I really appreciated that. That aspect of it.
As I got older, I was like, and when you look back on it, like only if you was on slang, you was you was nice. You know, the exposure of a cover or a full article, you was nice. So that was definitely a, you know, a standard that was set every time you step on the court, especially when you was a high school, middle school was like, I mean, I want to just be nice at this.
And I see, you know what it could take me.
Would you do with the one? The first one? You got coverage. You went you went got that from a store like you bought ten of them.
Yeah, I bought the whole rack.
Mom's bought the whole rights my senior year and was just across the street from a 7-Eleven and got in a couple of gas stations on that same street. So we just went yeah, we caught them all. The family had them. It was it was really a special moment, bro. I just it's just the fact that everybody that I love was in that magazine. And I knew that they at some point all my favorite people in the world might actually pick this up and pick do it.
You know, I'm and so I had that hope I. Yes, it was it was definitely like that young, you know, a young feeling that I had like and I'm just I finally made it, which I say sometimes I wish I was where I was when I used to say I was here.
That's when I was right. You something like I was that's when it was real. Right.
I mean, that's that's Dodo.
I think it really be out there picking up this next song is hilarious.
Yeah, I do. I'm a I'm a parent. I get it. I get it.
I've done some of my stuff, but. Yeah, man all right. Let's get back to school Rusman.
In the moment, while you guys are doing this, do you know you're in the middle of something special or are you just kind of moving so fast you don't know slam is slam at that point?
And if you figured it out, when did you guys figure that out?
When did you know this was something that was kind of bigger than life?
That's a good question. I mean, I feel like yeah, there were definitely some. There were certainly some, you know, especially later on. You know, I think I think that Iverson's soul on ice cover was a big moment for us. You know, that's when we got to listening to.
Right, and we got to do something different with eye, you know, and I think like because we got the throwback thing early because Mitchell Ness wasn't even like popping like that yet. We were going there and spending a lot of money, but it hadn't really made like a big thing we did that. We didn't do it because throwbacks were big. We did it because we wanted to emulate this old Dr. J. Photo and because the Sixers were playing in those jerseys on their hardwood classics night or whatever it was.
You know, I think and that was during the lockout or around the time of the lockout. So, like, we were kind of scrambling, like, what can we do different? And, you know, that was kind of a point where doing things different turned into like, oh, this is how we're going to do things, you know, go up like much later. We shot Bronn for the rookie cover. Bron takes out the slam headband and put it on himself.
We didn't ask him to do that, like he just wanted to do that. You know, that was another big like, oh, you know. This is crazy, right? Yeah, I think for me it was a little bit different. I knew it earlier and, you know, a lot of it just comes from being black. And I'm not trying to make you laugh, but real talk. When I knew and kept hearing that the magazine was being stolen out of drugstores and grocery stores and people were literally stealing the magazines.
I've definitely ran off with a few. But that's that's that's a good shit on us. And that's what I was going to be doing. Because usually when something becomes big in our culture, in black culture, when it comes to us, America follows immediately. So when I was going into my local Walgreens or Duane Reade or whatever you don't say and Slim is out and I'm here to manage this, I'm like, I'm asking you last name. We had a black people, so I'm like, OK, now we're about to now go on to something to you.
That's what I do early. And, you know, and being you know, that brother that is still living is still connected to how we all as black people, just hearing it on a regular basis of what it meant to us and how we basically kind of took our own little ownership of it, the same way we take ownership of black Twitter. That's what I knew for me. I was going to be big. I don't want to tone it down, but they were feeling.
But to me, that's what I knew early on, that this is going to be some big she could be connected with us. The Magsaysay connected to us really soon. Really quick one because of the presentation. Two is because of the sport. You know, we took ownership of basketball anyway. So to have something to speak for us, to us about us anonymise by. Yeah, I kind of knew I felt a big this early because of it.
You know, also like on a on a note was like, it's funny you talk about that ninety six rookie shoot and how we had to sort of do things on the NBA's terms and like try and squeeze our way through that stuff. I think there was another moment like when we didn't have to deal with that as much anymore, you know, when we could hire our own photographers, when we could set up our own shoots and like kind of do this stuff outside of the NBA purview where it's like, OK, we'll give you like four frames on the end of the shoot.
It's like, oh, great. You know, or like, you know, here's the stuff you could pick. You know, it's funny, like because at first, like, we would get like photo edits to of action, like we were just hit up the NBA and be like, yeah, we're doing a story on whoever whoever like Sondos, however many shots and eventually. And that was a big part of my job, like pretty much the whole time, like I would go to the NBA entertainment offices in Secaucus and be going through like folders and folders and folders of images, because at some point you're like, yo, like.
What are you sending us like it all had to be full frame at all, like there were these rules they had to follow and for me I'm like, damn, you know, I'll take a shot if the balls cut off, if it's a better shot, you know, like I didn't want the NBA preselecting what images we were going to show, because I think, like. We were trying to show the sport a different way than they were, you know, and at some point I think they realized like.
Our way of showing it was just as valid and was probably reaching an entirely different audience that they were probably having trouble reaching. I know for me on the media side, reading that, as you know, 10, 12 as a teenager then and seeing it, this was possible you could talk about basketball and use these words like words that I use when I talk.
It didn't have to be AP style and had to be a New York Times article. You know, we could talk about hoop like this and people could do this for a living like this could be a job. You know, when you're young and you don't know how a writer is really living, you think like the writers are out there, Rich, if I may say, kicking it with all the celebrities. Almario that's crazy. Like, I didn't know you could do that.
And I know a lot of people like Bill Simmons. Was that to them the way he wrote it in that tone. But for me, it was slam like it was it blew my mind that this was possible.
I didn't know that that was a thing you could do.
And sports media is so set in his ways because it goes back.
You know, they were writing about baseball and the beginning of the night in the 20th century.
Right. So it's a little different from music media, which I got into later in. Like, they'll let you have your tongue, but slam open that up for a lot of people. Like Scoops said earlier, the room got a little darker when we start seeing a school in these media rooms and stuff in in you know, he's thrown in Jay-Z bars to talk about this player and that player.
And it's like, yo, that's that's the shit I be thinking about.
So that's crazy. And that's when I kind of knew it was special for me when it show it enlightened me. And like other people who wanted to get in the media, yo, that you could do this like that's crazy.
So it always had that impact. And I know it for a lot of guys.
So it's funny, too, because I think we I think we kind of walked a line where it's like. And I always hated Bill Simmons. I'll be straight up like he blocked me on Twitter, I think before I was even on Twitter, we got into it when he was still the Boston sports guy.
And like, he wrote some shit about I'll never forget it, he wrote some shit about Stefon. And when Stefon was on the Nets and he said some shit about how Steph didn't care about winning and like he only wanted to do for him or whatever else. And I ended up sent an email. I'm like, dude, I'm at those games every night. I've seen Steph have a ten point game where they win, and he's ecstatic. I've seen Steph score 35 and they lose and he is a mess.
Like, don't be talking about shit you don't know.
And like, you know, I think and Kevin, you've probably said that to me before, but, you know, you and everybody else, he says he said everybody.
I mean, there is something about like if you're going to write about a guy, you should go in and face him afterwards and be able to deal with that and be able to take it, you know, and like, obviously, Scoop stood out more than any of us at that point. Certainly an NBA locker rooms I could like at least hide behind other white beat writers raisin in a bowl of milk.
But I'm saying, you know, if you're going to say some shit, stand up for it, you know, and, like, know what you're talking about. Yeah. And, you know, I think the good thing about being in locker rooms, writing features or whatever was like you didn't have to be in that first scrum. You know, we didn't have to be the dudes coming up to Kevin being like, hey, what happened when you missed that shot in the start of the third quarter?
Or like, why do you throw that pass away? You know, we could, like, stay back and after a while be like, what are you doing this summer? Or like, you know, what are you listening to this week? Or, you know, trying to get a little more granular into things instead of being on that like. Oh, my God. Stop asking me the same question everyone's asking me, because you need that quote for the back page tomorrow.
You know, I think me and Patrick Ewing were able to develop a relationship because I never bothered him. I mean, he scared the shit. I mean, sometimes he would just come out all iced up and be like they would he would talk for like three minutes and then they'd be like, that's it done. Yeah. After he retired, we had some great conversations.
So I remember one of the biggest arguments I got into the white rabon before I even came over to ESPN was about exactly that. It was during some one championship series, something like that. And everybody's come from the locker room rushing back to the press room, trying to get this stuff done. And I'm just like, you know, chill, you know, chilly. And, you know, as as newspapers beat reporters and newspaper writers always get all those of us who don't do what they do.
You know, you are lucky I had to do this. They're like, you don't do well by me. You know, he gave me a little ranch, stuff like that. And I'm like, you know, like I said, you can write a column in The Washington Post and it'd be fucked up. And two days later, you could come for that fucker. You know what I'm saying? And guess what, if you don't write the shit, the whole Washington Post is not going to go down.
I what I have to wear, it has to stay for six weeks. And if I put this up, this whole magazine goes down. So don't talk to me about what your deadline means. How much more important it is that what we do over here at this magazine? This shit has value and as a kind of fight we always had. And Mike was like, you know what? No one ever presented it to be like that, but that we had to do that.
You know, we presented ourselves differently. The magazine was different. You know, we all were kind of different. And we had to go through that shit with other members of the media about us even having value. But we continue to try to back that value up with content. You know what I'm saying, and by making them understand our role in this game, our role is not to be your competition. We are not trying to be like you.
We're not trying to take your word has been outright taking photographers, we're not trying to take your lay off people. We're not trying to take your avatars. We're not doing it. We have our own fucking. You know, and all we'd like we want to do is first acknowledge it and secondly, respect, but don't come off the bat. Do we need. And that's where we always ran into stuff that we always thought through. I mean, I remember catching shit from even like PR people, like team PR people, you know, about like why are you in here or whatever, what are you doing?
And it's like, but if I didn't have something to work on immediately, like, I'd still be it every nickname and every nickname if possible. And you're just relationship building. You know, I would talk to you or someone you know or whoever like just no one like down the line. I'm going to be doing something, you know, and I want you guys to be comfortable with us and like. I want to have this background on things, you know, like I don't need to know what happened in the third quarter, you know, going going further along than that.
Those your least favorite questions, right? Yeah, of course.
But it's funny like and I'm sure scoops out moments like this. I remember like. Because a lot of the big guys were group up, you know, especially big events like All Star or finals or whatever, and they kind of moved from player to player and get what they need. And this might have been this might have been D.C., also in D.C. or Philly. It was one of those two. And I went in the Western locker room. Everyone was still in the east and like no one's in there.
And I start talking to Kobe about something and we're just bullshitting whatever. And the seat next to him is open somehow to sit down. And we're just talking. And I think it was the year that. They played the nets right outside the All-Star break and Steph dropped 50 in an overtime game. I think the Lakers won. But so we're I'm talking about Steph about whatever, whatever, and just kind of lose track of things. And at one point, I look up.
And the entire media had come into the Western Conference locker room and is all standing in front of Kobe's locker waiting for him to talk. And I'm just like. I just got up like I actually thought, you know, it's like it's like not only do we not want the stuff you guys like, not only are we not doing the same things, we don't even want to be in that. Like, I'm not trying to get in your way where you screw them up on somebody.
Like, I don't want to be thought of as that. I don't want to just be like another guy in that group.
But those are those organic bonds that made slam go from like this underdog publication to the authority for basketball media. And that's where you got to the groundwork meeting these guys, No.
One guys and actually knowing them rather than going yo on this set you were supposed to curl in and what happened, you know, so that's that's what makes that magazine great.
That's what makes the legacy of that great. Just caring about it.
I mean, I know when Alonzo Mourning got sick with his kidney situation. I remember taking a flight to Miami. Just to see him. To say it was a night, no story, no nothing like, oh, shit, and I don't even know so like that, you know what I'm saying. I don't even know Zol like that. But I'm like, oh, shit. One he's playing with. I've got to be hadaway to his wife with to Howard University.
So I know you don't say I'm like this to my dad, you know his kidney is probably my God and I'm like, you know what I caught one was easy. Eighty dollars off my flight. I went up there and then yo, you know, I just came to check to see if you good. He said, I'm fine. I appreciate that. He said, well he said so. So you want to say I'm not I'm not trying to say shut up man.
I just came out, I just jumped on a plane just to make sure you know that you good. That's it. I'm out. I'm up. Budgewoi, shit like that on a regular basis, like drive. You know, I'm in Chicago driving to Indiana, driving to Milwaukee, get to the Bulls gate KAFTA or if when you walk in office. But you know, Russ, just doing some site, let's go to negate we're not coming.
Anything you don't say. We're just glad you just came to say what's up, give and an essay and leave it alone I think. And it's not even just build us up on something going on it just say, hey, you know what we care about you. You don't say is not. We show you what we're doing from a magazine said we do not we're not out here to dog you. That's what they just you know, we're kind of in this culture together.
And that's what I think is most important, is that you play basketball for a living. We like basketball for a living. We're both involved in this culture of basketball, not the sport, not the NBA, not the game. There's a culture of this game and we're still connected to.
So I'm just trying to make sure as you being a member of culture, it's good to have you remember talking about this, how all the pieces of hoop story kind of matter, like everybody within this in this community matters.
Yeah, we yeah, we had that conversation about everybody plays a small part in this thing is all for the greater good of the game in this game, advances so many people and has so many different avenues. So when that love of the game is shown, even in a place like the locker room, after a game, after you lose a game and you see guys who truly love it instead of the guys who are just trying to get the story, and then those are the ones, you know, that's trying to advance the game and that's the ones we appreciate the most.
And like you say, that relationship, the relationship always start in high school because what you guys presented to us as as young players as well. So it was always felt like we were always connected. We always meant to align, especially if you were making it to the NBA, being it being in front of you guys, definitely it was supposed to happen. So that's how you stood out in those locker rooms. We've seen that.
If we felt that energy early on, fellas, I think you are perfectly encapsulated. You know, what we going for with the fact that it was an inside scoop.
You talked about it a lot. You know, these guys are more than just bouncing the ball on the court and they're multifaceted people. And you guys did a great job of showing in the magazine. You know, we'd have features and there might be no stats in there.
You read a story about, you know, what those listening to and what he's kind of going through in life right now.
Well, he's hoping, whereas in other places you're going to get yeah, he scored twenty seven points and he did this or they lost and they did this. You presented him as actual people. And that's kind of one of the goals he decided was like, I feel like people need to understand it.
You know, these athletes, these people within his were celebrities and so on, such they are more than just what we see on the TV, what we see on the screen.
So I appreciate the work y'all did in that effort and y'all have been doing for over twenty years now and just seeing for the kind words and the love respect over the years.
Man Really. No doubt. Yeah, of course.
I was going to say sometimes you couldn't do the stats because same thing we're working like out and it's like no matter how we get to match.
But, you know, it's funny, I do want to add that, like, you know, I feel like even when we did interviews and like, you know, not that we didn't put our research in and hopefully, like, actually ask decent questions, but I always approach interviews like a conversation, you know, like it always trips me out. And I'm sure you feel the same way. Scoop like someone, some publicist or like a PR person would be like, can you send a list of questions?
I'm like a white guy. I don't have a list of questions.
Like, I feel like that would be like me asking Kevin, like, can you send me a list of shots for the next game if it doesn't work that the first one.
If I ask a question and it goes in a certain direction, I'm not going to be like, yeah, I don't want to talk about that. I got this list. I need to follow this list. I'm like, I don't know, like half a times. Like we'd end up like somewhere completely different, but. That was the fun of it, you know, it's like and I always look at it like that, like, you know, like Scoob said, we're slammers doing this Ninety-Six issue right now on that cover.
And I talked to Paul Walker the other day. I haven't talked to Antoine Walker, man. I don't even remember when he was on the heat. Maybe. I mean, it's been a while and same thing. We're on the phone for like an hour, you know, and it's just like it's not it's not like getting through this set list of questions, just like I miss you guys. Like I said that to him, I'm like, this makes me feel like sitting in the visitor's locker room at Continental Airlines Arena, you know, talking to him and getting made fun of by Paul Pierce or like, you know, whatever else.
Like, it's just it was fun, man.
And I think we need to figure out what else it is. We need to give credit where credit is due because we were able to Russell, to cosign on this. We were able to function freely, 100 percent. One of the reasons I think you got other journalists and other publications act in certain ways because they can't operate freely. They don't have a sense of freedom that we had. But that goes to slam basically some would be independent in its existence.
It's not like Sports Illustrated was owned by Time Warner. You know, there was no big conglomerate that had ownership. It was pulling strings on how this thing was supposed to function. Sam was basically independent of other entities, owned it, but they let the publisher, Dennis, function freely. He let us function free. You know, I got to that office in ninety six and it was like word I can write whatever I want.
Yes, it's going to get in there.
I'm sure if I go back and read Noize now there'll be lines around like they let me say did write to me that all becomes a becomes a part of something being independently run. And when you have an independent mindset and you're trying to find your place in the game or establish a place in the game, this is what you have to do, especially if this is who you are. Eslam is it is a great example what happens when you can deal with independent functionality, not necessarily independent ownership, but independent functionality, where the people who are creating content and the people who are in charge of the entire publication of totally independently with a system free.
You'd be shocked what happened when you let Creative's be creative, we might messing things up every once in a while, but all in all, it's for the best. I definitely tried to write some stories like Schoop in the beginning, and that was probably a really bad idea.
But, you know, we all got past it. But Scoop, I mean, like I said earlier, like super inspired a ton of writers out there, including myself. So I have all praises the scoop for what he did. Thank you. Thank you both. Thank you. No doubt. And continues to do. I shouldn't say that in the past tense. I don't know what I'm doing.
Nothing else is on me. Thanks. Well, look, I appreciate you fellows in.
You know, Rush, you said a part of you you showed the interviews. Want to have a conversation, not an interview. That's our aim here. And I think we had a great one. So thank you, guys. Thank you guys for your time. And, you know, hopefully we'll do it again another time. Thank you for having us. Thank you both.
Appreciate you fellas for coming on. Man, you guys meant a lot to the coaches. Still mean a lot to us. Man appreciates the love for the game. You love for the arts man. Thanks for coming here.
And we'll see you back on the court, man. Yes, sir. And I can't I can't speak for current management, but Slim's got to put you on another cover soon.
And him again, you know, I see cross-class come over and do it that we don't know we're talking. Yeah.
To see I was going for cab he became instantly you know, I'm saying he going to be pissed. Shit.
But you know, hey, it's a one off man. If I, if I can't get a job I'm so good.
I'm like oh yeah. You good. Don't worry about the bills. You guys are going to make it happen. We'll make it work. All right, fellas, appreciate it. I appreciate all our guys. Thank you. What up, guys, is Kevin Durant from my podcast, The Exeter's, we're partnering with Verizon to provide exclusive access to Verizon Rewards Program members for once in a lifetime opportunity to be a part of our podcast. Download the Verizon app on your smartphone to get started and be on the lookout for a super ticket that would grant you access to a must see exclusive live taping of my podcast.
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