Slam Magazine turns 20 years old | My Love Letter To Slam & the 90s
Watching all the NBA players I grew up watching become TV personalities, coaches and GMs over the past few years has made me feel real old. Seeing Grant Hill and Jason Kidd retire a couple of weeks ago almost gave me a mid-life crisis because all I have now from my high school days is Juwan Howard in a suit on the Miami bench to represent my generation and teen years.
I don’t get to buy Skybox, Fleer, Topps and Upper Deck basketball cards anymore. I don’t read boxscores from the Warriors and Lakers games two days after it happened in the newspaper. I don’t get my fantasy team stats every Thursday in the mail and call in on Sunday to make roster changes. I don’t arrive at Sam Goody or Wharehouse Music on Tuesday mornings to pick up the latest hip hop CDs including all of Shaqs. I don’t get to collect Starting Lineup basketball toy figures. I don’t get to go to Suncoast video stores and ask if the NBA has released a new NBA Superstars or Super Slams on VHS. I don’t have the joy of hearing John Tesh’s music and watching a double and triple header on Sundays on NBC. The only consistent joy from those days that is still the same today is I can still go to a store and pick up a copy of Slam Magazine.
MAGAZINE. Yes, a printed tangible medium that looks, feels and functions the way it did 20 years ago. It’s not a PDF that gets lost in my downloads folder on my computer, it’s not an app that takes up too much memory on my phone, it’s not a piece of disposable digital crap. It’s simple ink on paper that I’ve been been archiving, along with my records, laserdiscs and other great forms of media, for two decades.
I can still remember the day I bought the first issue at a Walden Bookstore in Florida. I thought it was some type of SI special edition at first because it didn’t even have a date on it. It just said “Slam No.1” on the spine and a “Display until May 2nd 1994” on the front. I opened it and fell in love with the hip hop feel, the articles (Do the White Thing), the pics (Webber in Slam of Da Month), the ads (House Party 3 or Hos With Attitude anybody), the sneakers (Reebok Shaq II), the Pulp Fiction briefcase glow. I remember flipping through those pages for months in the back of class eagerly waiting for another issue to come out. The follow-up would eventually come with Shawn Kemp gracing the cover and I made the statement on that day that Slam Magazine is the greatest magazine of all-time.
I never subscribed to Slam because I always enjoyed the “journey” of finding and personally picking up and buying something I wanted. So for the next 7 years I bought just about every issue of the magazine.
Then came the new millennium. I just received my Masters at FSU and was heading into the Dot Com Boom. On the side, I was creating and managing multiple hoop websites and editing videos (years before YouTube and when bandwidth was costing me hundreds of dollars a month) and desperately tried to get a shoutout from the magazine because I was already featured in Sports Illustrated and numerous other mags. No luck and no love.
Years later, Dime magazine came out and they even featured 4 of my projects in numerous issues but I remained a faithful Slam fan and only bought issues of Dime when my work is in it (but I did spend hours standing in Barnes and Noble and Books A Million reading Dime front to back). Then in the May 2009 issue of Slam they wrote a 4 page article on an organization I was a major part of and my name was left out but that didn’t stop me from buying and framing copies of the “Don’t Sleep on Dwyane Wade” issue. I didn’t lose any sleep over it but I was a little disappointed.
Flashforward a couple more years and as a member of Ballislife, I get to work with the good people at Slam on numerous projects from promotional campaigns to the Ballup Streetball Tour to the Ballislife All-American High School Game. A game that makes me feel old as hell because i’m having lunch with All-American Glen Robinson II while thinking about the day I bought a Glen Robinson autograph ball when I was a little younger than Robinson II. A game that makes me just as old as seeing “Slam No. 170” on my office desk and thinking it was 20 years ago when I first had a Slam magazine on my school desk.
So congrats to Slam for 20 great years and a big FU to Slam for reminding me how old I am and for going 170 issues without a shout out. Maybe one day but until then I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing…..page 1!
The following is a digital supplement to the first issue of Slam Magazine
LIVING LARGE (LARRY JOHNSON)
HAIR WE GO, YO (ANTHONY MASON)
THE AGE OF INNOCENCE (FELIPE LOPEZ)
CHASIN’ THE DREAM (CHARLES BARKLEY)
DO THE WHITE THING (WHITE PLAYERS IN THE NBA)
TRICKS ARE FOR KIDS (JASON KIDD IN COLLEGE)
STREET MOVES (JOE HAMMOND)