Friday, March 30, 2007

"Put Words Together Just To Match, I Say What I Feel, Y'All Adjust to That..."

"So much for objective journalism. Don't bother to look for it here-not under any byline of mine; or anyone else that I can think of. With the possible exception of things like box scores, race results, and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as Objective Journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms."--Hunter S. Thompson

"I just tackle the subject, get flak from the public? It's nothin', I know real niggas happen to love it. And if you don't like it, then look in the mirror-most likely, you 'aint live it, so you don't get it. You 'aint did it, so you can't envision, the picture I'm painting 'aint vivid, the language I'm spittin' is so foreign to you. See what starvin'll do to you? Growing up hard in a little apartment'll do to you? I'm just talkin' to you. I'm just talkin through you..."--Jay-Z

If you gave me three letters to describe the world of basketball, I'd say NBA. If I had four, I'd say SLAM. Pictured above is the last decade of the league, and the next one. Nearly all of them have roots in the magazine, many featured multiple times, including LeBron James who practically grew up between its pages. After 13 years, SLAM continues to comb the landscape while celebrating the progress and culture of the game.

There is a more conservative segment of basketball journalists who drape themselves in the flag of objective journalism and denounce SLAM as the insignificant ramblings of crazed fans armed with press passes. Others dismiss it as a mere cult of cliched personalities. It is not the hallowed institution that is Sports Illustrated or that mammoth conglomerate of a four letter word, ESPN, but by tailoring their focus to basketball SLAM can measure it's pulse like no other publication, with comprehensive coverage of high school, college and professional hoops. Every year the game's elite tell their stories through the pages of SLAM, and to honor it's foundation, more than half of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players have been featured in the Old School section since the magazine's inception. There have also been re-emergences-if only for a brief moment-from the doldrums of obscurity by Charlie Scott, Earl Lloyd, Jackie Jackson and Cliff Hagan, among others. Who? Exactly. SLAM is required reading for a complete basketball education.

The folly of objective journalism is in the assumption that one can speak with absolute neutrality, which requires an omniscience that is simply impossible. We're all products of upbringings that have sculpted our worldview, and those outlooks are what make us different. That is why we value a Thompson, Halberstam, or Wiley, for that unique voice which came from their sensibilities. I say that not to declare this magazine as the literary gold standard, but to assert that we can never completely understand or appreciate a subject until it's been viewed from every angle, and that comes from a multitude of perspectives. SLAM dared to take a new one, and after 108 issues they've become synonymous with the game without boring me with their wives, their parents or some fucking schmuck named 'House'. Thanks guys.