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Basketball (and Kings guard Buddy Hield Other Things). S TA N D U P F O R YO U R RIGHTS We are so here for the era of basketball superstars using their platforms to speak their minds and push for social change. dives into is heading up a rebuild in some of basketball’s most Sacramento that actually important. 3 2 . BUTLER . An excerpt from Shea 42. S T O RY 6 6 . STILL Serrano’s hilarious new STRIVING book. handle. 4 0 . we asked 5 8 . Really good. two sisters. GUESS W H O ’ S B AC K 3 7. #212 NOV/DEC 2017 Features 28. unanswerable looks pretty damn questions. W H AT I F N I C K TO TELL ANDERSON MADE Our staff’s favorite NBA ONE OF THOSE narratives headed into F R E E T H R O W S? the season. impressive. equally hilarious answers. TO… Prediction time! 64. aunt and father at the University of Missouri. And 36. women’s NCAA seasons Damian Lillard speaks on should provide plenty his lyrical inspirations. ROOKIES they’ve got a lot of work M O S T L I K E LY to do. MUSIC 5 0 . # S L A M T O P5 0 Miles Bridges returns to You know the drill: The Michigan State with some only player list that will unfinished business to ever matter. CA R RY O N AND ME TRADITION With his roots firmly This year’s men’s and planted in the rap world. AW W Y E A H over the past few years. FA M I LY OV E R the young NBAers some E V E RY T H I N G hilarious questions. BAGLE Y COVER AND THIS PAGE ATIBA JEFFERSON 6 SL AMONLINE. At the Panini NBA rookie photo shoot. and Michael Porter Jr is joining they responded with his brother. could immediately prove why he’s been so hyped 3 4 . B AG TA L K It says here that the NBA Duke’s Marvin Bagley III Draft’s Class of 2017 could (right) reclassified so he be good.COM ROOKIES COVER NATHANIEL S. of intrigue. Allow us to explain why. 4 6 . YO U N G A N D GETTIN’ IT 52 .


Zion’s latest diary entry. Richard Sherman. PUNKS RJ Barrett is repping for The North. Back Court 72. 58 8 SL AMONLINE. Action Bronson loves Shaq and we hope Isaiah’s recovery is on track. they say goals… MICHAEL PORTER JR. FROZEN MOMENT They see pictures. if unexpectedly. Chris Webber. 15. T R A S H TA L K As usual. 26. HYPE The NBA is back. PG. Plus Brittney Sykes.COM PORTER COVER AND THIS PAGE JONATHAN ZIZZO . and an intro to Gerald Liddell. Crossover Academy and more. S L A M A DA M O N T H The Celtics’ Jaylen Brown made his presence known at this year’s Summer League. 80. K I C K S E X T R A The Under Armour Curry 4 is Stephen’s best shoe yet and LaMelo Ball has officially. EJ Montgomery and Andrea Aquino. Javonte Smart. arrived. our readers don’t hold their tongues. #212 NOV/DEC 2017 Front Court 12 . KICKS New player sigs in the house! 74 . 76.


66.COM . Ryan etc. the STARZ show’s main charac. Copyright © 2017 by for AMC. Write to SLAM: trashtalk@slammediainc.S. Drew Ruiz. visit https://www. Over the past few Cam Calloway. one NBA rookie. The Rap Year Book. Rob Hammer. Palm Coast. ’96 and ’03 in legendary status. You can say fake SLAM cover featuring fictional prospect David Cassilo.O. Bagley III. Burn & Broad.447. Max Resetar NEWS EDITOR Marcel Mutoni EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS Rajah Allarey. Conrad Kaczmarek.html about them. Nathaniel S. about our new covers: they’re either It’s a quick snapshot in the movie He Got Khalid Salaam. Basketball (and Other Things). Consumer Marketing.9 PUBLISHER Dennis S. ON N6C 6B2. and it’s in basketball media.The Sixth Man 2017 VOL. I think it goes with. Both have been leading their ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Michael Yaari to-be) on our cover. has been translated into several different languages and is now being adapted into a documentary Printed in U. FL 32142-0235. one college kid. Habeeba Husain CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Ryan Jones. Page page—there’s been a lot of talk in the office what could go down as one of the best rook. email advertising@slammediainc. Jonathan Zizzo in college hoops: MPJ at Missouri and Bagley As SLAM has undergone an ownership III at Duke.A. The more things change. it makes it worth it. name. email info@slammediainc. often than not as of late. P. COO David Schnur about SLAM’s place within the complicated ies classes in history. Tzvi Twersky BASKETBALL EVANGELIST H Rick Telander SENIOR WRITERS ere’s the only thing I know for sure My favorite example of this isn’t even real. but as for what makes us behind them and god only knows what kinds SUBSCRIBER CUSTOMER SERVICE especially distinctive in this ever-crowded of amazing feats still to come.333. and he turned to SLAM. CIRCULATION Tom Slater guarantee that at this exact moment. But it’s true. and immediately before every. Butler. Robinson III out of basketball and the incredible culture impressive array of accomplishments already To carry SLAM in your store: 800. And now we’ve got two respective HS classes for a minute now. Michael Bradley. And we do so better than anyone Occasionally our subscriber list is made available to reputable firms offering goods and services we believe else—that much I know for sure. Jesus Shuttlesworth. but MVP new covers with college freshmen—Michael following MBIII’s reclassification. Adam Figman would be of interest to our readers. Page EXECUTIVE PUBLISHER David Schnur HEAD OF CONTENT/EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Adam Figman CREATIVE DIRECTOR Alexis Cook EDITORIAL MANAGING EDITOR Susan Price Thomas SENIOR EDITORS Ryne Nelson. on pg. transition this summer—word to the new guys we consider to be the six favorites to go CHAIRMAN Joe Samberg down in history as the pieces that make up VICE CHAIRMAN Peter Robert Casey masthead you see on the right side of this CEO Dennis S.1288 the sport lives in. All rights reserved. On our third media landscape. etc. we’ve put both prep sensation Zion ter. we’ve got the SLAM MEDIA INC.6383 or write to SLAM. CONTRIBUTORS You might’ve noticed this happening more vivor’s Remorse gave the same treatment to Cassy Athena. Arturo Torres. Box ability to cover basketball players during or 420235. We can only SVP. Yaron Weitzman. 10 SL AMONLINE. DeMarco Williams. Williamson and the three Ball brothers (one Which brings us back to Porter Jr and ADVERTISING high schooler. with an VP.381. Ben Collins. Alex Wong that for every cover featuring a high school. Almost two decades later the creators of Sur. Writer/director Spike Lee INTERN college or very young NBA player. to use a terrible addresses to IMEX Global Solutions. Charlie Lindsay.circsource. SLAM Media Inc. phrase I promise to never use again—learns about them.O. Atiba Jefferson. Which is to say: We help players blow up. Canada Post: Return undeliverable Canadian world—real hoopheads. at info@slammediainc. etc. Where and how it fits in. and why it has a purpose. Shea Serrano. Zion Williamson. Of course. or 800. Box 25542. Russ Bengtson. please email your current address and a note requesting to be excluded from these promotions to SLAM Media Inc. P. (potentially!) joining industry we inhabit.6411 International: Shea Serrano is a New York Times bestselling author and staff writer for The Ringer. address and phone number on any inquiries. Catch an excerpt of his new book. BACK ISSUES one outside of the basketball world learns To order back issues.24 NO. or they’re Game when the screen cuts to an image of a CONTRIBUTORS going to age terribly. RETENTION & OPERATIONS FULFILLMENT out saying that we are here to cover the hell Donald T. set to air in the fall of 2019. Please include immediately after everyone in the basketball Peace. Peter Walsh ASSOCIATE EDITORS Franklyn Calle. Enthusiast Media Subscription Company Inc. there’s no For US: whole slew of electrifying first-year pros. Nima Zarrabi going to age really well. we can’t promise that’ll happen. Leo Sepkowitz. I’d argue that it’s our better way to proclaim they’ve got next. Zach Wolfe. they head Spiro Maroulis Porter Jr and Marvin Bagley III—and one with a into this NCAA season as the undeniable 1-2 For all advertising inquiries. ART exciting—and in my mind. London. If you prefer to be excluded. so this is needed an example of what “next” looked like Jihad Dennis no big OFF THE BENCH For general inquiries. His last book.


I’m not much shit going on around the League here at WKCC until they say five minutes right now I had no choice. In my opinion he should be a first time NBA All-Star this year. Don’t forget about Jabari or Kris either. Haha! The King is 12 SL AMONLINE. WI When I watch the game I put them CL-20 on and jump in the sky- box. too. I’m at the game. When I wrote to a magazine before but with so pick up the world’s greatest mag. The point is. And Chef Curry and KD on the cover. trying to divorce Cleveland but I bet Homage paid. he is a superstar. it’s gone be worth something because the left and the NBA logo on the right (on the first page of your Unbeatable it’s most definitely a piece of history. KY Snapchat snaps. Kase Andrews. I’ve never Lastly.” Big ups to the editorial work. age 11. that doesn’t stop LeBron’s dancing Undra Roddy. you got the “Whole writer screamin’ hoop or die and salute New Ballgame” and you got “Tomorrow this Basketball Bible. Right now Kyrie is in the middle of to count and that’s when I know it’s real. Marlton. the Bucks are on the rise and they are led by 22-year-old Antetokounmpo. we’ll see ya in a poster laying on the ground with Giannis flying over ya. I’d like to thank SLAM. Trash Talk I loved Sam Rubenstein’s blurb about Bradley Beal. To me. Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to be this year’s MVP and he can’t stop SLAMming. For the fresh out. My favorite by far is 211 with State. eat) with that record-setting 73 wins. NJ Big Bradley Beal fans over here. Golden off the grill (hot) issue after issue. This year the Greek Freak means business and he’s got blooming Grand Champs players like Thon Maker and the ROY to back him up.COM . in your trash talk next month. but I’ll still be rooting for LeBron and the Cavs if that happens. Cleveland. meaning the top rock. I am a first time got the 2017 Draft. on a spoon (eat. I will admit they put the League Curry. we’ll see ya in the Finals. we’re coming. All I can tell you guys KD looks like a championship trophy on is to hold on to Issue 211.—Ed. pen on my last sheet of paper in a TX penitentiary prayin’ I see my trash talk fine job. What’s up SLAM? I think my team the Milwaukee Bucks are going to be a lot better than people think this year. Evansville. Luke Gaymon. I like to pay homage where homage is due. Fredonia. I think he will have a breakout 2017- 2018 season. Watch First off. Hopefully the Wizards will make a huge playoff run and maybe make it to the finals. I’m bleeding my ’Til Infinity. You issue)… Just sayin’.

SLAMONLINE. Adam Figman and Alexis Cook to their was bold. THE MONTH ing this “Tomorrow ’Til Infinity” crap! And if life’s talents are all about just “Trash @CJMcCollum it’s saying the Spurs can at least theoret. agree. this basketball shit is a all students constantly learning no matter movement and you can’t be a part of it if what platform!!! I applaud a person of you ain’t makin’ moves. Now I’m not saying it was in stone understand my perspective. 6TH FLOOR. hoping to see another female weaknesses and I’m not saying they would’ve lost. Another thing. NY. I think all basketball heads would nis Page. WI these weak ass Not to mention TP9 wasn’t even playing. TP9 on one cover! With the title saying “Ladies First!” (Wheewwww that’s sic!) Of all the is good 11-15 a game. I had to get this kid on me and another gift to SLAM and its fans who are #StriveForGreatness I hope I was the first to do it. Is this guy for real? watch the world go this way >>>. It’ll TWEET OF Check this out though. I’m in my cell read. shocking. KD was shut down by the Klaw! Timothy “Timor” Morgan. GSW had full strength. My time flies THE MONTH when I watch this man play. You don’t like it. NY. it’s too official. start ranking I know y’all watched Game 1 of the West Finals. SLAM homies! First thing’s the Black Picasso of the Bronx…There’s no first. Maybe Maya Moore. However. both greatly appreciated…but also. I just wish the need for an art contest challenge yourself Spurs had more love coming from y’all. guess what I did? I TAG YO inked a 13-inch full body tat of Mr.COM 13 . I just wish I could send y’all a picture. TRASH TALK. TX need for conceited words no matter how We NEED that pic!!!—Ed. it was over! MADISON AVENUE. He is a mad scientist that created three parking lot shootin’ Frankensteins. T. For years. Not a month after KD won his first S UR PIC ring and Finals MVP. work out better for you that way. Talking” then win all by yourself.COM Roderick “Lil Rod” Lighteard. TX Lashawn McMullen. make three of your own and show us how it’s supposed to be done. Dilley. confidence and talent. by respecting the pen and progressing. I know KD has been gettin’ his fair share of ink of people that inspire him. C/O SLAM 261 TP9? Thank you. to put a young woman on the cover rocking OR EMAIL US AT: TRASHTALK@ See ‘em next year! Spurs Nation stand up! a Knicks uni? I was mesmerized and forev- SLAMMEDIAINC. on the cover of SLAM. I’ve that the Spurs would’ve won the West but been waiting. My entry this year is yet #WhyNot flawlessly. life on it KD wouldn’t have went off like I already knew what it was…. Trey M #MYSLA 5 doing a fallback jumper along with a big purple Nike check and his logo on my rib cage. Crawford aka What it b-like. SLAM. With We had a 23-point lead in the Bay! Yes. I honestly don’t know if I could’ve made it this far THANK YOU SLAM NATION!!! You showed @kingjames mentally without his lethal scoring and me luv last year with the crayon displayed Real Ones Never Change! vigilance.COM @SLAMonline SLAMmagazine the King and we gotta respect it. I’m sick of people dry hatin’ on La- Var Ball. the Spurs lost but only because the Klaw got I’m writing this with the most humblest of hearts hoping that I can somehow get Den- descriptions of hurt. hilarious they may sound. ically try to improve enough to challenge Going uhhhh yeah that way <<< and We need to the Dubs’ dominance. Brooklyn. What’s the most the SLAMs that I have. I love the magazine. #Stay Melo that no one could’ve taken and passed Toronto Issue. so I know he knows I N S TA G R A M O F where I’m coming from. 2016-17 season was a test portrait I submitted of AI in the Drake My Gs. 10016 he did against the Spurs if the Klaw was unique and most of all. journalist. but there’s never a Darrell Brown aka DToxx. I’m most proud to own SEND LETTERS TO: Dubs’ beat the Spurs by without the Klaw? the 1998 issue with Chamique Holdsclaw. As of now Golden State the champs. ability to make For Ryan Jones to say that the Spurs Elena Delle Donne and Candace Parker up “sources” have to improve to beat the Dubs is insane! The Klaw is good for 26-30 a game. Someone said “buss yo pen” and I did. the Spurs the hell was this magazine cocky enough MESSAGE US ON FACEBOOK didn’t. And I can almost put my When I first saw that cover. Who in playing. Green Bay. NY SL AMONLINE. to dish I’m going to be out in a couple years out a particularly well needed lesson of and I’ma send y’all a pic of my Slim art etiquette and let it be known that we’re Reaper ink.) Tone City. er under the SLAM trance! (WE MAY EDIT LETTERS TO FIT.


tennis and whatever else the world throws at us to fill the time between what really matters—basketball. The big NBA opening day comes a week earlier than usual this season. getting your fix of glorious hoops after a long A LWAYS BY R I CK T EL A NDER summer of baseball. golf. and I know you are too. with a double-header on October 17 on TNT. BERNSTEIN/NBA VIA GETTY IMAGES B RING IT ON! THE OPENING TIP I am so ready. or you wouldn’t be here in the midst of SLAM 212.COM 15 .ANDREW D. featuring the Celtics playing the Cavaliers in the SL AMONLINE.

. good enough to rank top five in the nation. and anyone who watch- es every minute of every game gets a free gallon of eggnog from Adam Silver but must send all those unopened presents (no time to unwrap!) to the Clippers front office in case one turns out to be a pass to the deep playoffs. and the intriguing (finished? reborn?) point guard and one-time league MVP Derrick Rose.” which is how those of us in the office jokingly referred to the seemingly ever-distant days of new SLAM ownership. F L U K E R : C S U N AT H L E T I C S night due to his barking hip. LOAD win both accolades. 16 SL AMONLINE. Amen. This season. YOU’VE against Hawaii before being named Big West Player of the Year and was invited to BEEN SENT TO the USA Women’s Basketball U23 Camp in August. (now a Rocket).. Put your chair ROKAS GUSTYS. CA.COM ILLUSTR ATION BURN & BROAD .” Most interesting of all is that #BARS star point guards Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas have done a musical chairs thing and switched teams—Irving to the Celtics and Thomas to the Cavs. HOFSTRA UNIVERSITY on full-recline. Stephen Curry.. —Drew Ruiz HOOP HEAVEN. she set school UP THE CHIP records for points (577). rebounds every time he crashes the glass.0.Which is to say: If you’re a talented. first game and the Rockets playing PICTURE ME BALLIN’ PICTUR the defending NBA champion War- riors in the second. his sophomore year and earned All-CAA Championship honors after grabbing a James Harden—all there for your tournament-record 23 rebounds. Kevin Love.. she was named Big West Fresh- gre “PUT YOUR man of the Year and earned First Team All-Big West.) There are five televised games in succession on Christ- mas Day. No reason why either team wouldn’t do that deal. holler at us. As a junior. Draymond Green. he averaged 12 boards a game for love. rebounds (383) and field goals (242) while averaging 18 points and 12 rebounds.. basketball-obsessed videographer. CHANNON FLUKER. And that’s only Day 1! Christmas—hey. Rokas Gustys is fulfilling his bowl and watch so many stars childhood dream of playing basketball in America. double-doubles (11 consecutive to end the year) during Kevin Durant. making her the first freshman recipient since 2002 to RECLINE. You even get stars like Gordon the Pride. It’s basketball time. CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE CH Pulll up stats from Channon Fluker’s first two seasons playing with the Cavs. load up the chip Hailing from Lithuania. Chris Paul atop the rebounders list once again. 260. remember Santa and snow?—is now owned by the NBA. there should be a little snippiness between Kyrie and LeBron since Irving wants to be a supernova away from Bron’s blinding light. kids. The following season. he looks to sit Hayward (now a Celtic). native is destined for g eatness. CHAIR ON FULL. Klay Thompson. (Payments went to the North Pole and Charles Barkley.. He posted 22 LeBron James. has actually arrived. and d it’s obvious the Pasadena. While IT likely won’t suit up on opening G U S T Y S : M I C H A E L R E AV E S / G E T T Y I M A G E S . In 2015-16. She had a career-high 39 points BOWL. At from last season that you might 6-9. N O Y Z » “SLAM 2.The Kyrie/IT trade is one of our favorite basketball swaps in a minute. Gustys has a motor that every college coach hallucinate and believe you’ve wishes his big man possessed and a knack to corral been sent directly to hoop heaven. Let’s get it.

At the end of the camp. you’ll get a new ball next year. It’s not hard to see how a moment like this will have a lasting impact on a young girl who has dreams of striving for more than the seemingly preordained blue- print that the circumstances of her birth have laid out for ROB HAMMER her. Shilpa Tummala. the miliar. they’re just hoping those moments begin to snowball. character. started with a mod. Now are intent on instilling the five which insists on operating with est and open-ended in his sixth summer. C O M 17 . female students. Shaun says.” I could combine my work in better future. they couldn’t automatically ex- wanted to get involved. Shaun and his coaches into the hands of Crossover. From these kids are only barely fa. At the Crossover Acade- my. —Conrad Kaczmarek S L A M O N L I N E . Ming is not why they’re here. the stance. students rotate saying you’re not good enough. and Crossover Academy was born. The In 2012.” Shaun likes to say. gender equity. but the fact that with life lessons through the sport of basketball. Shaun took two vol. one of having a family history in India lenge in establishing funda.” he recalls. he summer to teach basketball “Basketball is our vehicle of the starting point and therefore looked at the landscape and to over 300 children from change. But training elite players course of just two weeks. light-years ahead of the girls at grow as a global sport. Crossover presents each student with a certificate and a basketball to take home and offers them a challenge: If you wear that ball out and if you go to school every day. Shilpa connects by teaching them a simple call and re- sponse. we often take the WORLD RUNNERS mere opportunity to participate for granted. sport where the boys weren’t As basketball continued to two weeks in the middle of the teamwork and communication. slap the ground. While we debate the merit of participa- INTERNATIONAL tion trophies in American youth sports today. program with 45 students. there’s no established culture of basketball in India plays S haun Jayachandran unteers to India to run the pilot Instead. those core pillars. condi. or finding India’s version of Yao students rapidly progress in yell “defense!” on her cue. tioning. who just finished earning a degree in neurobiology while playing Division I basketball at Harvard. yoga and a classroom Crossover’s coaches. come to southeastern India for ship. Shaun pillars on which the Crossover an even number of male and objective: get kids to rolls with 14 volunteers who Academy is based: leader. urging be impactful. through four 30-minute ses. sions: basketball skills. with the most basic of dribbling drills and eventually reach- ing the point where Shaun is excitedly explaining the concept of a pin-down screen to free a teammate for an open shot. To which the group of 40 young girls responds with “a strong woman!” as they shout and flex in unison. “What is a leader?” she prompts. starting students haven’t encountered a role model like Shilpa. “I marginalized communities and Throughout the after-school clude the girls from playing by started thinking about how provide them with hope for a program. These students don’t have many after-school India’s CROSSOVER ACADEMY is providing kids activities. education with coaching and There’s an immense chal. Over the them to get in a defensive that kernel of an idea. works to build something that would mentals for a sport with which session focused on establishing with a group of 40 girls. “I wanted a play sports and stay in school. their basketball skills.

for a while at least. THROWBACK ONE AND DONE week into the season. it remains one of the most memorable dunks in NBA history. In that first month alone. And so we go a Golden State Warrior. —Ryan Jones 18 SL AMONLINE. himself. that one season was shooting. 18-rebound. Webber would be gone at season’s end. memorable. classic pick Penny Hardaway in what Mayce Edward Christopher is all about versatile big-men— home whites. strong.COM . had its roots in a dazzling Webber was the prototype Barkley. go to YouTube now): In full stride. a trade that might alter the where he and his Fab Five Fast. it was a fleeting moment in a too-short tenure in Oakland. he thought he did. over the Pacers. You know the rest (and if you don’t.. Curious to see how companies will continue adapting to the lifestyle sneaker takeover.1 rebounds. wasn’t meant to be. But nothing can diminish that brief. it simply are impressive in their own as substance. get on it. a 24-16-4 line against the Heat. presence felt with an impressive rookie year and a memorable he had a 14-point.. Draft. and shockingly more fashion-inspired than most shoes in his line.. Chris Webber was once Webber and the Dubs. and just four games and one short Magic in 1993.You should be subscribed to our “Respect the Game” pod on iTunes by now. that perennial Cali also-rans into to mention incredible expecta. 2s. Magic. C-Webb was one to remember.. looking for an oppor- At the time.. Given the context. If the NBA in 2017 ing the Warriors’ clean. He did not disappoint. 1 overall by the Orlando Still. Webber put the ball behind his back before rising up and over Barkley’s two-handed challenge. it seemed like two-year run at Michigan. expansion franchise and the college game. at least. better than 2 blocks and a steal week into his NBA career. dunk over Charles Barkley. but this is a fresh step in that direction. For His rookie year numbers going to be about style as well Yes. the dream was never realized. 3 The buzz surrounding per game. 9. That buzz—not game against Phoenix just a where Latrell Sprewell found him flying upcourt. Webber’s impact was always almost like a dream. and T IM D EF R I S C O/ N B A E V I A GE T T Y IM AGE S he’d spend his best years in Sacramento. before there was a prototype: tunity to announce he’d arrived. Or at least. single season in contenders. a nightmare on both ends. athletic and versa. Alas. and his first double-double two days CHRIS WEBBER didn’t last long in Oakland. but he made his later. forcing a turnover on turning both the Disney-based less than revolutionize the He posted his first 20-point D and running out on the break. oh-so-fresh debut in the Bay. Oakland seems out that way for Penny and the League. In Oakland.5 points on 55 percent back to that night in Phoenix. And it did work tions—followed Webber to the But as a former Fab Fiver. If you’re not. teammates had done nothing tile.Now we need to see the Harden Vol. He helped create the chance balance of power in the league. and a 26-point outing in a win L ooking back. eventually turn- ing a different also-ran NoCal franchise into a contender. Right-handed flush. ed No. 5-block game against Seattle. but Chuck had the angle.. Webber had a step on Barkley. N O Y Z » The LeBron 15s are dope. Rock- swapped immediately for No. he matched up remains one of the wildest Webber III on his NBA arrival those coveted unicorns— with defending MVP Charles draft-day deals in NBA history. and one. right: 17.


KD The Players’ Tribune and he remembered football and life? and Russell Westbrook. While he made his RS: I was actually one of the ball boys things we can learn from the NBA and mark on the football field and the track when Tyson was there and he was making MLB and how they got their deals done.#WOATTwitter is a movement. Iman Shumpert. 1 player in the NBA. Lance Stephenson. These fans are the most incredible fans in sports and they deserve a team. we need a 2017 version of B-Ball’s Best Kept Secret ASAP. I think there are High School. but I’ll do my DOMINIC DISAIA come true for a kid from L.. N O Y Z » According to the comments on our #SLAMTop50. I ran into him not too long ago at accurately describe your approach to world-class hoopers—including Kobe. SLAM: Tyson Chandler was a huge re. SLAM: Who are the best ballers on the Seahawks? RS: I’d say someone between Doug [Baldwin]. but we can get the ball in the basket when we want to. Earl [Thomas] and Jimmy [Graham]. G rowing up in Compton. #BetOnYourselfThenDoubleDown. Damian Lillard. with how violent it is. Everything I do. In RS: I grew up a Lakers fan and am still a RS: Me and KD have a pretty cool rela. —Peter Walsh 20 SL AMONLINE.A.. CA.. It’s unfortunate that this fan base had to be punished for what the owner did. I don’t Lakers fan. hopefully I can get that done.#Free8EyeMedia…. Do you think an NBA team is ever going to come back to the city? RS: I would hope so. Most of us as football players are defensive stoppers. They’re pretty competitive. We really like the way they treat their players.. When I was of me being better at football than I was It’s about as good as it gets for me. so every thought is focused on some version ARMOR’s “Obsession Is Natural” campaign. me being the ball boy. We’re not mad. dream to be remembered in this game SLAM: What’s it like to be able to work SLAM: Do you have a relationship with and remembered as one of the all-time with Kobe? any other current NBA players? greats. every bit of energy. with Kobe as a creative director for BODY. season starts and ends before his.. SLAM: You made a comment during the offseason that NFL players may have to go on strike to get the contracts that DIMEDROP players deserve like the NBA did in 2011. Obviously their league is more of a players’ league than our league. We had a good laugh RS: It definitely does.. Lonzo Ball. It’s not like the fans weren’t coming to the games. Kam [Chancellor]. Russell Westbrook’s high school so I used to go up there all the time.A. etc. Do you think the NBA’s bargain- BIRDS FLYIN’ HIGH ing deal is the model that other leagues should follow? RS: I don’t know if it’s the model CBA. his run and they were going to state cham. in high school. It’s really cool and it’s a dream tionship.COM . SLAM: There’s such a great basketball community in Seattle. just like Kobe is in basketball. he paid close attention to the bas. Our league is owners controlling and them Richard Sherman attended bas. team. We ended up having a cool relationship—we’ve been in contact since high school. Fitness and run all the time. the girl I was dating went to yesterday. but Lifelong Lakers fan and Seattle Seahawks cornerback there are things in the NBA’s CBA that RICHARD SHERMAN is living the dream by working with Kobe they do well and there are things that we Bryant on BODYARMOR’s latest “Obsession Is Natural” campaign. SLAM: Do you guys get together and play during the offseason? RS: We go up to L. Right now we got a pact to see think you can play 20 years. Do you remember keeping the personalities of the players ketball powerhouse Dominguez the hype around him back then? pretty much suppressed. our game.. It’s always been my at that and how far we’ve come. to work who can get their second ring first. SLAM: Does “Obsession Is Natural” ketball world and is friends with plenty of pionships. Lou Williams. Our best. do well. Dion Waiters is the No. cruit at Dominguez.Between Victor Oladipo.

com/sportsmem .ebay. www. Charles. Clyde. Mike. Magic. Kareem. Remember the time. Larry. Patrick.

You can get through a tougher skin. NJ. I gained two tears. BS: When the second one hap- a toughness to them. —Ryne Nelson 22 SL AMONLINE. you rough. I would go ball psychologist. I was 3. SLAM: What was your BS: I used to go to the Gatling Hillsman] called me one day cause if you come from Newark neighborhood like? Center a lot when I was young. You should. and so I played basketball.. and was like. psych. If good. listen. it’s like.LeBron followed @slamkicks. ACL twice during a I honestly look at anything one-year stretch help as easy because what I went shape you into who you are through was only something today? that the person going through BS: It was definitely a journey it can understand. man.. and to this day. OK. I look at it where I found myself.. It definitely changed me how much I took for granted for the better. N O Y Z » Ball in the Family is currently the best show on TV—and it’s not even on TV. The er and growing up through we’re going to figure this middle school.One rea- son we’re looking forward to spring 2018: The BBB Gelo 1 (actual shoe name TBD.. it was BS: [Laughs] I don’t know what terrifying. you kind of what you needed to do. I broke down. But I grew up with them. People laugh SLAM: Is there any fear that at it. For about a Syracuse offered a sports good 10 years.. Everybody street I grew up on was pretty sleep for months. The Gatling out. SLAM: How would you sees Newark as a bad city. HOMEMADE KEY TO THE STREETS Atlanta Dream guard BRITTNEY SYKES grew up in hard- nosed Newark. the little things. you’ve got to beat BS: It was good and bad. and the youngest of my three cousins was 7. the best of the best. The Champions Basketball League looks like a complete scam. the idea. R I C H B A R N E S /GE T T Y I M AGE S next to each other. He honestly helped me SLAM: How did tearing your and saved my career.” And we came up with Center is actually in Irvington. the most growing up? [Syracuse head coach Quentin have to see it with respect be. but we’ll rock our Gotham Ballers gear regardless…“Mans not hot!”. you’ve been through a tougher mentality. I never noticed this. for sure.. let’s talk to a sports Irvington and Newark are right psychologist.. You did SLAM: Where did you play pened. Hey. honestly. And then I couldn’t that word is. The area around my SLAM: Was it different the describe Newark ball? you’re a kid that makes it out street could be described as second time around? BS: I think Newark ballers have of Newark. in any sport. F R O M T O P : M I C H A EL H I C K E Y/GE T T Y I M AGE S . I gained as. but not being able to walk it’s going to happen again? how I want to walk.. “Listen. When worked hard for that. SLAM: How were you introduced to basketball? BS: When I was younger. of course).COM . I used to play with my cousins in my grandparents’ backyard. friends and people that I went I’ve been talking to my sports to school with. and suffered two ACL tears before earning WNBA All-Rookie honors last season. at the Gatling Center with my going on three years now. too. people say that.


..Jim McDaniels. Every Spencer Dinwiddie office visit (and SLAM podcast) is fun. We see the pure..Zach Hollywood. you start rooting for the deer. “I’ve never been given anything.. too. N AT H A N IEL S . The NBA’s third leading scorer last to like venison. and it is always using prescription. The video gets the blood it. ex- heroism in going to the pharmacy these bunch of other basketball minutiae things tracting vengeance on the weak just to do days.. boy into proof he needed to take over the don’t know what’s going to happen next. It is getting back at a slumlord dad and world isn’t on fire.. strictly on the premise of getting even with an elbow. Don’t confuse that cruelty with a moral.Dick Gregory. I asked him: This is going to be a re. IT’S GOING TO BE AWESOME. right? themselves. Cover wall back?…Rollie Massimino.. I watch it twice venge season. before all 94 a bunch of time last summer with Isaiah one of those people is running the country feet dissolves into Michael’s hurt. He took over the world.Tommy Hawkins. But do not get it mixed up: It is a coping mechanism. pun entirely intended.. N O Y Z » The sneaker colorways in this year’s WNBA playoffs have been next level. player alive on a rocketship to the NBA THE OUTLET Finals. In short..” Alan said.. and this is a pretty good is secretly good off the ball!). who spent anyone who has ever slighted him. “Michael Jordan—Top 10 Revenge throw-in. long enough to get some toothpaste.. for Boston Magazine..Criss Freeman. since thing to him at the wrong time. back into the limbs.. presuming he’d be right now and biting off sizable chunks This sort of magic comes straight from in Boston forever.. BEST SERVED COLD You’re going to see the righteous- ness dressed up in fury. for that story.” It shows professional pains in the seven straight NBA Finals. ‘Stay paranoid’ because I honest revenge season..Jud Heathcote. the Isaiah and LeBron now have plenty This is what’s going to happen to man’s life is a revenge game. playing house. abandonment was necessary.. At this point. He was there for seven of its soul in the process. He then said a But that’s revenge as distraction.. and told them both they weren’t good enough.. a grenade from Heaven called year is now being referred to as a trade Eventually. Betrayal. of ball boys worth punching.” punch the ball boy.0 on deck.Jerry Lewis... spit out into more months.. often because there’s basic “Totally. or bench fodder saying the wrong I talked with Alan Siegel. hatred. His new teammate has been to This is understandably a complicat- Plays. because here’s a quote Isaiah told Alan the poor and oppressed as a tool to do it. but I’ll save The New York Times. ISAIAH THOMAS and LEBRON JAMES are about to team There’s plenty of revisionism going up for a revenge season the likes of which the basketball on now in Boston about how Isaiah’s world hasn’t seen since Michael Jordan’s prime. YOU’RE GOING TO SEE THE RIGHTEOUSNESS DRESSED UP IN FURY.Ozzie Silna.COM . You have places to be. I’m looking LeBron James this year. B U T L ER / N B A E V I A GE T T Y IM AGE S here’s this YouTube video that Isaiah Thomas.. a week now. If Jordan turned every quip from a ball “I’m just like.” Remember: Michael Jordan did not world. pretending as if the you’d agree with (LeBron! Spacing! Isaiah it. but was told all ed time to root for someone who runs ass like Bill Laimbeer pissing off MJ with summer he is somehow the problem. to pick on those who can’t defend ment that ever happened. 24 SL AMONLINE.Adam Wojcik. you can withstand tinpot fascism he said. about how A L W A Y S B Y B E N C O L L I N S you shoot the deer under your tires on the highway.. if he has two working recently dropped on my feed like hips.. It’s going to be awesome. and maybe one just put him and the best basketball forward to the YouTube montage. the driver is T simply willy-nilly about deer and he seems F R O M L EF T: A DA M GL A N Z M A N /GE T T Y IM AGE S . suppressed vengeance. Now some. consequences when it’s channeled into the greatest two-decade athletic achieve. SLAM Dome 3.

hen the season
opens in
October, nearly
everything will
be different for
the Boston Celtics team
that advanced to the

Eastern Conference Finals.
This isn’t how it usually
goes with a conference
finalist—teams who get
that close tend to bring
everyone back and try
again—but Danny Ainge
generally has not been one
to do things the usual way.
Of the five starters in
their final game of last
season, just two remain:
Al Horford and Marcus
Smart. Avery Bradley is a
Piston, Kelly Olynyk is on
the Heat, and Jae Crowder
is a Cavalier. So is All-Star
guard Isaiah Thomas, who
missed that game with a
hip injury that will keep
him out for the beginning of
this season as well. Many
of the bench guys are gone,
too. Jaylen Brown, though.
Oh, he’ll be back, doing—
well, things like this. After
all, we did say “nearly
—Russ Bengtson


JULY 9, 2017






It’s the same with music. So I have a lot of things I the future. though. Then I’m rapping to myself. And I listen to beats a lot when I’m on the plane. Lil Wayne days I won’t take a nap. R I G H T: T H E A R O N W. there’s a lot of through music. Lillard has performed on stage thing to that specific beat. during many tend to be skeptical when the season on road trips. It was different with my first album. I knew what I wanted to get done and that was that. proving that his rap have to record. fly. Some days I take a nap. should be done. to give up-and-coming to come naturally for you. I’m always having that in mind. he released songs via his Tuesday. But as an artist. DL: I wouldn’t say I’m nervous. they are on the court. For me.O. H E N D E R S O N /G E T T Y I M AGE S Since the release of his album. With basketball—even on a game day—it’s on the “Different On Levels The Lord Allows. me feel some kind of way and then I’ll end up recording some- F O R J B L .L. very few—OK. a three.A. I’ll call the SoundCloud account and bodied multiple freestyles on Sway studio if I want to come record. SLAM: Is your routine any different than the way you ap- Before the start of the 2016-17 NBA season. Although this Usually I take a lot of notes and I’m always writing stuff because isn’t the first time an NBA athlete I might want to come back to it. storytelling an athlete. which way I should go or day music and entertainment festival that how I should go about doing certain things took place at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las as an artist. I get up on and Juvenile.” dropped The Letter O. I’m just living and seeing things. He also launched his record label. and old. denying that rappers want to be NBA players and vice versa. It’s never a schedule or planned out across different venues in Portland and has gotten praise for his real well. I go basketball and hip-hop fans didn’t to a lot of places and visit a lot of cities.. some a 12-track album with features from Jamie Foxx. so I make what I want of it. Other times I’ll go listen to beats. #4BarFriday and more. Is it different rappers an opportunity to break into the being behind the mic? music industry. I’ve reached a high level as the stage to talk his rap career. [and] when we get a day off in the hotel pros try to take on another career—especially music. SLAM: Performing on the court seems Front Page Music. It might be something I want to has tried to pursue rap on the side. Lillard.L. who he’d like to work with in things I can learn. but recording it on my phone over and over. There’s no room. Lillard performed in front of moments where I’m curious where things the invite-only crowd at JBL Fest. getting the flow down. I don’t have a set lunchtime. I go there sometimes with stuff I P R E V I O U S S P R E A D A N D T HI S PAG E : A B E G IN S B ER G/G E T T Y IM AG E S Calloway’s “Sway in the Morning” show. none—have been as successful in the booth as adding bars to it and then I go to the studio and record it. remember. many time I’m a part of something. can learn from people I deal with in music 30 SL AMONLINE. Any- a full-length studio album. whose proach basketball? stage name is Dame D. work out and if I’m not doing something.COM . it’s kind of fun because Vegas. know how to react. and it’ll make career isn’t just some kind of fad. That was passion in music from fans and NBA players both young planned out. an acronym that stands for DL: Not really.W HEN DAMIAN LILLARD SLAM: What’s the music process like for you? announced that he was releasing Damian Lillard: The music process for me is pretty simple. but I’ve had Last month. Long before the album. We caught up with Dame before he hit in basketball.

J. ing from that environment. People talk about how rich who’s someone you’d like to work with? the history in Oakland is when they talk about point guards and DL: In the future. He’s not a rapper. People will respect the music. Everybody raps—even the people who don’t Kendrick Lamar. but DL: I’ve seen it done so many times. I think with us both doing music and him obviously rap. they rap. Biggie. And also. but what do you think it will be like to perform at a festival like JBL Fest? DL: I think it’s probably going to be a different crowd than I usually get in front of. And when this happens. so I’ve seen how it should be done. I have so much to tell for myself. It makes me happy that I can give them that platform to a certain extent.COM 31 . SLAM: You’ve performed on stage before. A lot of the artists I work with I’m a huge fan of.and off-court. What’s it been like to see all the un- der-the-radar talent on there? DL: It’s been crazy just because you see all these people that can really rap. the story and also the fact that I’m an athlete and really diving into something else that I really care about. he’s my favorite rapper of all time. I’M A FAN OF BARS. so going many times before that. being who he is and also being with adidas and having a shoe line. I think it’d be a cold collaboration if we did music together and a shoe together. so it will be fun to get in front of other people and allow them to hear my music that they might not have heard. SLAM: What was your favorite thing about recording The Letter O? DL: It was a fun process because it was something that I hadn’t WITH A MESSAGE AND STORYTELLING. It’s just what I come from. Has there been called “Growth Spurt” where the person that was rapping with any talks about you two working on a track? me was my friend. it’d be super hard for me to put out music the way I have. Nas. That’ll be real cool to Brookfield Duece and Danny From Sobrante—two of my artists from my record label—that have been doing music for 15 years. SLAM: The partnership has been going for two years and they’ve been involved both on. It makes me respect these artists even more. forward that’s who I want to work with. I was working out in the morning getting that out the way and from noon to midnight it was just listening to beats. Listening to music is a way for me to block everything out. It’s been done so a fan of. or be on a platform that’s going to give them that opportunity or ultimately accomplish what they’ve set out to do. I would like to work with more artists that I’m they do the same when they talk about music. which I think is cool. having a speaker—a high- quality speaker—it goes hand in hand. coming up with hooks and verses. It’s kind of like I’m in the learning position again the same way I was as an athlete where I had to be humble enough to listen to people and allow people to coach me up and say.” done before. SLAM: Your #4BarFriday contest has really taken off over the last four years. I LIKE MUSIC to handle it like this. Chance the Rapper. It was different and something that I’m looking forward to doing again. What’s it been like being a JBL ambassador? DL: It’s great and it’s really obvious. Andre 3000. S SL AMONLINE. I had Lil Wayne. It’ll be pretty cool. SLAM: Who are your favorite rappers ever? DL: I’d have to say 2Pac. It’s also humbling because I understand that if I wasn’t an NBA player. but he has a job and he can DL: Definitely. Eminem and Jay-Z. It’s a Jamie Foxx on there. I’ve been in front of a crowd that loves who I am as an athlete. you’re supposed FOR ME. so it’s natural. pursue a career in rap. and bouncing ideas off songwriters and other artists.” I’m learning how to become a better artist the same way I learned to become a better athlete. And I’ve also done a lot of performances in Portland. It’s the artists I listen to on my own time— thing that you pick up. Juvenile. you should do it like this. SLAM: How does your upbringing and city play a part in storytelling through your music? SLAM: You’ve already worked with some big names. Lil Wayne. Com. I got a song on The Letter O SLAM: Both you and Kanye are adidas guys. They spend a lot of time and are fully invested in rap careers and might not get the break that they’re looking for. Cole. Nas. me being an athlete that’s so heavily involved in music. It only makes sense for me to represent that and be a part of that. It was fun. “You shouldn’t do this.


looking for any advantage. B U T L E R out there to cause havoc on D. they have inside are so different. he’s a true floor general. rack and kicks to open shooters. They’re just kids. The ever-coy Zo each other at countless AAU and high Fultz. He’s a killer on-court. trailing in W O R D S M A X R E S E T A R transition or coming from the weak side. Former Kansas Jayhawk Josh Jackson’s potential rests in his versatility. He can reject shots from anywhere. another GETTIN’ IT ‘Ville product. B L ES S E D W I T H O T H E R W O R L D LY Jackson has the potential to be one of the TA L E N T A N D D O P E P E R S O N A L I T I ES . out of De’Aaron Fox and Dennis Smith Jr after smaller opponents on his way to the rack. On it. Fox is fast. They can hoop—more on that in scope for about a year now and he’s using members of the Class of ’17 are friends a moment—and they carry themselves with all the hate to fuel what’s shaping up to be after all. light and carefree. capable of money and he can catch bodies at the rim. he’s smart and articulate. but early when he gets his paws on the ball. Cole. In fact. Quickness and hops aside. He’s on but they never seemed to get tired. Fox can control the show pictures. signing autographs. The day was dragging University of Washington. has already linked up with J. with the No. The second pick in the draft was Lonzo He’ll have help from a reloaded Celtics lars and followers. ready for the spotlight. of the future doesn’t bother them. they the utmost confidence. Joel Embiid and the rest of the ’14 might sound. His midrange game is devastating. Duke. And when we grabbed Markelle Fultz. either. Or maybe they’re just also featured as a crew on our cover. he’s running all 94 feet. doing everything possible to win. make fun of each other. The guys from ’96? Well. they couldn’t stop laughing at each dissecting the defense as he drives to the He’s not a brash talker and he’s not out other and everyone around them. Smith Jr’s early ROY candidacy can be traced back to his playmaking. NY. months together at pre-draft events. Tatum. Summer League MVP. and as simple as that he rookies had been Parker. much everywhere on the floor. that the weight don’t know how Andrew Wiggins. making funny supremely confident 19-year-old from the whether he’s in the middle of a fastbreak social media videos. S SL AMONLINE. the cool as shit. And his there chirping recklessly to the media. De’Aaron Fox is another rook who’s P O R T R A I T N A T H A N I E L S . We to Russell Westbrook. He bounces off the floor like they aren’t aware of the expectations Members of the ’96 and ’14 classes were so quickly that he’s drawing comparisons that await them. Jabari Derrick Rose. they were ready. He’s a locomotive when he’s going to the rim and G E T R E A DY FO R T H E TA K EO V E R . as far as we’re concerned. The 19-year-old from Fayetteville. lets his game do the talking. setting up his teammates at every turn. unselfish and polite. Dwyane Wade and that confident. Ball. Fox and is fearless. They dap each other up. His jumper The smoothest scorer in the Class of Lonzo Ball. just as self-assured as his school showcases. T front and center at the annual Panini Rookie Photo Shoot at the Knicks’ practice facility returns are promising. is pure and he’s big enough to brush off ’17 promises to be Jayson Tatum.” a nod to his love for stealing the ball from unassuming dribblers. So there’s pressure on this year’s crop. That’s be Dennis Smith Jr. for lack of a better phrase. defense and elite com- petitiveness.COM 33 . Whether on offense or defense. getting the seal of approval from one of music’s biggest names. pick. that ready. and after spending Smith Jr are. That right there would be enough for a cover spot. the of Kentucky. doing interviews. best two-way players in the NBA. He It can be tough to remember that these spin move is deadly. a few of them are Hall of Fame-bound. They range from quiet Standing in his way for the ROY could jokes. Their personalities a Rookie of the Year-qualifying campaign. Coming off one year at the University in Tarrytown. jetting YOUNG AND around the floor. Off court. At 6-8 with THE NEW CROP OF ROOKS HAS BEEN long arms and a mix of agility and power. he can go into hyperspeed moving all morning: rooks will fare in their careers. Jayson Tatum. Almost why we wanted to get them together. Jackson. potential superstars. still can’t legally walk Ball. NC. They laugh throughout most of our to comedic to talkative to boisterous. ninth overall pick. famous father. Josh Jackson. scary pick-and-roll ballhandler. with millions of dol. His story’s been well documented in roster that will make his shooting numbers into a bar. His social media handle is “swipathefox. lunch for our shoot. The 6-4 guard is a threat from pretty not afraid to step up in the clutch. too. the absurdly athletic cover shoot. He’s a his catch-and-shoot three-pointer is good didn’t seem annoyed or bored or drained. so mature and of his brilliant passing skills and ability ue to grow his impressive offensive arsenal. he’s already a dangerous shot-blocker. They where he can finish over the top. Ball’s been under a micro. taking The Sixers traded up to take Fultz. They’re all so these very pages and he showed flashes extra cushy and allow him room to contin- damn good at basketball. that it doesn’t feel to lead a team on his way to winning After years of playing with and against like they were just in high school. We have high hopes. 1 or calling out plays in the halfcourt.

J O S H JAC K S O N . see if they want some. I tried and taking? fell and we lost the game. Fox: Jimmy Neutron. money. in there’s just certain stuff that you just gotta buy already. He’s kinda laid back and cool. “I know your feet hurt because you’ve been there. The playlist would be fire. Smith Jr: Tom and Jerry. Jackson: I’m gonna choose JR Smith to be my vice president. De’Aaron Fox: I don’t really have anything planned for the Fox: Chris Paul. Ball: My little brother made me fall on ESPN. really pretty bad. too. Ball: SpongeBob. person. some Ball: A pizza box. Someone had me sign a pizza box. Tatum: LeBron James. so I went and bought another PS4. walking through my mind all day. Fox: I got dunked on in practice by Kelly Oubre. haven’t really been able to have any fun with anything yet. Josh Jackson: A little bit of it went to my mom. the basketball court? Jackson: Dragon Ball Z. JAYS O N TAT U M . It’s a classic. Tatum: Drake. Probably a [Nissan] Maxima. B U T B E F O R E T H E Y E M B A R K O N T H E I R CA R E E R S . but a banger. “What’s up?” After that it’s pretty easy. He always knows what’s going on. I Kentucky. Cole. That’s the only one I’m really. No dull moments. SLAM: What’s your favorite pick-up line? Fox: Kevin Hart. Probably a Range Rover or a [Mercedes] G Wagon. then I gotta go out and Jackson: The strangest thing I’ve ever been asked to splurge real quick. Tatum: I got dunked on my freshman year of high school. The first NBA SLAM: What’s the strangest thing you’ve been asked paycheck is just going to the bank. my contract says I can’t. I was dribbling pick one celebrity to ride shotgun. Fultz: Jay-Z. We gonna be boomin’ the whole way up Smith was like. in a playoff game.P R E V I E W Aww YEAH T H E H I G H LY T O U T E D C L A S S O F 2 0 1 7 R O O K I E S A R E A B O U T T O H I T T H E C O U R T A N D S H O W E V E RYO N E W H AT T H E Y ’ R E M A D E O F. That’ll probably be Ball: One track. one artist? Future. She said she enjoyed it. Cole. went to getting a house. which Ball: All I say is. He’s dope. autograph was a kid. I’d probably get one. Dennis Smith Jr: Probably get myself place. holds himself to a higher standard. He’s gonna make that trip fun. Fultz: I got asked to sign somebody’s underwear. Either that or SpongeBob. It was bad. Being an adult and living this life. nice. man. Who are you down the court. Smith Jr: J. B Y M A X R E S E T A R SLAM: What are you going to spend current NBA player would you pick as your VP? your first NBA paycheck on? Ball: Kyle Kuzma. Really first paycheck. close with. in their car. Tatum: I was watching Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Will Ball: Future. M A R K E L L E F U LT Z . Pops. He’s just a legend. if I could ride motorcycles. 34 SL AMONLINE. I’m probably with? looking for a dog. It looks Tatum: A baby bib. [looking for] the gamewinner. It’s gonna be fire. SLAM: What’s your most embarrassing moment on Fultz: SpongeBob. That’s the first thing I get.” SLAM: If you were running for president. That was Smith Jr: J. something modest. SLAM: What was your favorite cartoon growing up? Fox: Drake.COM . to sign? Markelle Fultz: Vacation for my mom to Anguilla. Fox: I signed someone’s dashboard. They Lonzo Ball: I don’t know yet. He seems like the most powerful a car. A L L B R I A N B A B IN E AU/G E T T Y IM AG ES E XC E P T F U LT Z : E L S A /G E T T Y IM AG ES Tatum: SpongeBob. On his arm. I did it. I really want a pet. I’m gonna talk it over with were wearing ’em. If not. And man. SLAM: Which artist do you want to hop on a track I’m just trying to get stuff that I actually need. D E ’A A R O N F OX A N D D E N N I S S M I T H J R SAT D O W N W I T H S L A M F O R A L I T T L E B I T O F F U N . I gotta get a car. I signed with Nike and have gotten some well spoken. SLAM: You have a long road trip and you can only Fultz: I used to always trip up on my feet. L O N Z O B A L L . He’s gonna make the world a better ? Jayson Tatum: A car.

He’s a monster and he’s on the “Dennis Smith. but I know.COM 35 .” SL AMONLINE. I feel like he’s gonna surprise a lot of people this year.” A lot of people don’t know how good Dennis actually is.” “Either Kyle Kuzma or Josh Hart. I know what he can do. “Johnathan Motley. I think people are sleeping on him.” “Dennis. Dennis is a really good player. Mavericks.“ Q: Take yourself out of the equation. Keep it in the family.” “Dennis Smith. Who do you have for Rookie of “Dennis the Year? Smith.


the Beard to have his best season yet.3 true shooting per- does literally everything on the court. 6: B IL L B A P T I S T. 9: L AY N E M U R D O C H /A L L N B A E V I A G E T T Y IM AG ES . #SLAMTOP50 T H E R E A R E P L E N T Y O F “ T O P P L AY E R S ” L I S TS O U T T H E R E . W ES T B R O O K : E Z R A S H AW. in the West. The 24-year-old is clearly That’s scary. Harden was laser- A N DY LYO N S /A L L G E T T Y IM AG ES . D U R A N T: R O N A L D M A R T IN E Z . 4: E Z R A S H AW. STEPHEN CURRY 9. By sharing the go down as the greatest shooter of all time. Wall is very close. 7: GA RY D IN E E N. floor with Westbrook. F O R T H E U P C O M I N G S E A S O N . 1 : M I C H A E L J. PAUL GEORGE The Paul George trade to Oklahoma City caught A revolutionary offensive talent. not. KEVIN DURANT 7. KAWHI LEONARD 10. the second time in three years. JW tasted playoff Equally skilled on both ends of the court. B U T N O N E H AV E T H E I M PAC T S L A M ’ S D O ES . JOHN WALL If you created the perfect NBA player in a The best two-way guard in the game? If he’s laboratory. 2 : N OA H G R A H A M. Expect 8 : J O N AT H A N B AC HM A N. 10 : R O B C A R R /G E T T Y IM AG ES fourth straight year. 2. That’s how good LeBron is. Was going to stop him? The 22-year-old superstar named Finals MVP. Curry will the entire NBA world by surprise. C U R RY: G R EG O RY S H A M U S . competitive edge. this year. 3. 5 : C H R I S C O VAT TA / B OT H G E T T Y IM AG ES . PG won’t skip a beat in OKC Let’s appreciate Curry’s brilliance while he’s in this season and the Thunder will be a real threat his prime. 4. ANTHONY DAVIS Davis refused to train with players on other Westbrook averaged a triple-double. won the teams during the offseason in order to gain a MVP and could probably repeat it all this season. and he’s centage in the playoffs. A S VO T E D O N BY O U R STA F F. Leonard is what you’d come up with. JAMES HARDEN After finishing runner-up in MVP voting for the Regardless of who suits up in Cleveland. 5. B Y R Y N E N E L S O N 1. RUSSELL WESTBROOK 8. Cavs will probably reach the Finals for the TO P : JA M ES . Had a 68. serious about winning this season. SL AMONLINE. The success last season and will be hungry for more Klaw is a true nightmare matchup. GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO If Giannis thinks he can win MVP this year. LEBRON JAMES 6. H E R E A R E T H E N B A’ S T O P 5 0 P L AY E R S . who’s He hit the most clutch shot of the Finals. How’s that for cupcakes? just getting started. 3 : L AY N E M U R D O C H /A L L N B A E V I A G E T T Y IM AG ES .COM 37 . L EO N A R D : focused on improving in the offseason. L E B R EC H T II .

Armed with a complete national team. GORDON HAYWARD KAT was arguably the best player in the NBA He became an All-Star in Utah. NIKOLA JOKIC Jokic alone makes the Nuggets a League Pass The reigning DPOY proved that putting up lots of must for his insane passes and crafty offensive points isn’t a requirement to make a big impact.COM . The Defensive Player of the Year heart to come back as strong as ever this season. JOEL EMBIID In 31 games last season. Thibs helped Butler earn the task. BLAKE GRIFFIN 30.P R E V I E W 11. this man’s footwork. 16: R A N DY B E L I C E . GA R R E T T E L LW O O D . DEVIN BOOKER The green light will be on all year for Griffin. MIKE CONLEY No player finds a heat check quite like Klay. 17. 2 5 : M E L I S S A M A J C H R Z A K . That’s Boogie’s Perhaps it’s time to call Carmelo underrated. 18. more skilled. He Of all the young players in the League. 24: B R I A N B A B IN E AU. There’s hope for the Knicks with the clutch. award is not far out of reach. GA R R A B R A N T. young Porzingis on the come up. Make sure you watch be a shock. 3 0 : B A R RY G O S S AG E /A L L N B A E V I A G E T T Y IM AG ES 16. He’s somehow still one of threat. game. 1 2 : L AY N E M U R D O C H: 1 3 : S A M FO R E N C I C H. RUDY GOBERT While the severity of his hip injury is unknown No Gordon Hayward in Utah means it’s Gobert’s as of press time. KLAY THOMPSON 27. ISAIAH THOMAS 25. but Lowry is more than up for the again. DRAYMOND GREEN 29. He’s slimmed down and is He’s a complete nightmare for opponents to ready to make a playoff run in New Orleans this guard with an offensive package that’s second season. KRISTAPS PORZINGIS Lillard has always had his haters. DAMIAN LILLARD 23. 26. 1 5 : B R I A N B A B IN E AU. 2 8 : J ES S E D. 2 9. An All-Star berth is all but guaranteed this in Brad Stevens’ offensive system. off the ball for large amounts of the game. signs point to him being ready for opening night. CHRIS PAUL 28. 22-year-old. 20. to none. Denver has a cornerstone player in this Green does his job. 2 6: R O N T U R E N N E . 1 9: N OA H G R A H A M. but all gets the most praise from the game’s superstars. Props to the Conductor for signing the richest Capable of 30-point quarters while also locking contract in the NBA and then having the best down tough opponents. 2 0 : J UA N O’C A M P O/A L L N B A E V I A GE T T Y IM AGES . KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS 24. 2 1 : R O N T U R E N N E . but no one is craftier than Paul. but Hayward post-All-Star last season. so watch out in 2017- chose to chase a title in Boston. 14. Embiid made it clear For the first time in his career. 14: DAV ID S H E R M A N. KYRIE IRVING 21. 2 2 . but he’s finally suit up for the Celtics this year. 13. CARMELO ANTHONY Bigger. KYLE LOWRY 27: J O E M U R P H Y. stronger. 2 3 : J E N N IF E R P OT T H E I S E R /A L L N B A E V I A GE T T Y IM AG ES . Booker ended the season with a scary foot injury. JIMMY BUTLER Coming back from wrist surgery will prove a Butler should thrive under Tom Thibodeau once challenge. It’ll be he’ll have to answer the question on everyone’s an adjustment. mind: Can he stay healthy? 19. aka Dame Time. DEMARCUS COUSINS 22. Thomas has the dedication and time to shine. DEMAR DEROZAN After owning the 2017 offseason. 1 1 : B R I A N B A B IN E AU. The 31-year-old still has the tools to be an nickname Jimmy G. year. But this year. game in a nutshell. the most underrated players in the game. 38 SL AMONLINE. Anything perhaps the League’s most gifted scorer from less than a huge season from Uncle Drew will everywhere within the arc. he can’t be stopped in the New York. but he lets his After an offseason playing with the Latvian game do the talking. CP3 will be playing that he has superstar potential. Book is a straight-up assassin. Kyrie will Deebo is not a good three-point shooter. elite PG this season. 15. After all. Buckets in Chicago. KP is ready to take the reigns in offensive repertoire. and he does it at an elite level. 12. 17: N OA H GR A H A M. He should thrive 18. Thompson is a constant season of his career. 1 8 : B IL L B A P T I S T.

AL HORFORD Perhaps the most efficient scorer in the game. Gasol wants to see 3 9: JA S O N M IL L E R /G E T T Y IM AG ES . 39. HARRISON BARNES The only player in the League capable of a Barnes quietly put up career-high numbers triple-double with blocks. Walker plays every possession of all 82 Perhaps the best rebounder in the league. L. S A M FO R E N C I C H. His passion every night. AD and only 22 and an excellent defender. ready to prove that he’s a franchise talent. LONZO BALL The most complete center in the game. An All-Star should continue to do so in 2017-18. R O B C A R R /G E T T Y IM AG ES . Ball has 3 6: DAV ID S H E R M A N /A L L N B A E V I A G E T T Y IM AG ES . Lopez is as heading back to the Western Conference. 4 4: R O N H O S K IN S . but Holiday will com- dropped 23. KEVIN LOVE 49. Dre games with heart. 47: G L E N N JA M ES /A L L N B A E V I A G E T T Y 31 . IM AG ES . Don’t sleep on the former No. The Spurs need LA at full strength to shot. MARC GASOL 45. 37. HASSAN WHITESIDE 47. From his sneakers to his reality show.A. has to step up the rest of his game. and rightly does it all on both ends of the court. he’ll bring his workman-like game to the Mile He should be getting plenty of easy buckets in High City. 31. MYLES TURNER DJ sticks to his strengths—pick-and-roll and rim With Paul George in Oklahoma City. Waiters proved that when the game is on the line. KEMBA WALKER 42. At 25 years old. love Dragic’s hard-nosed game.COM 39 . BEN SIMMONS Perhaps a bit overlooked because of the Even after sitting out last season with a broken summertime drama in Cleveland. the keys in protection—and does it at an elite rate. L AY N E M U R D O C H.6 ppg last season. He’s durable. Simmons moved up one spot from his Top top forward in the League. Whiteside is a terror in during his first season in Dallas. he’s coming into his own. GA R R A B R A N T/A L L N B A E V I A G E T T Y IM AG ES . so expect the trend to ranking dropped significantly from a year ago. 32. Drummond’s the last every season. and for good reason. No big Indiana now belong to Turner. LAMARCUS ALDRIDGE 50. the Cavs will rely on Love more than ever. excellent third option for New Orleans. R O B FO L DY/G E T T Y IM AG ES 36. continue. 33. progress this season in Grind City. 4 6 . ANDRE DRUMMOND Cardiac Kemba has come back better than After a disappointing campaign. DEANDRE JORDAN 44. 3 8 : S C OT T C U N N IN G H A M / N B A E V I A G E T T Y IM AGES . 4 0 : C H R I S C O VAT TA . 3 2 : K E N T S M I T H /A L L N B A E V I A G E T T Y IM AG ES . 34. CJ MCCOLLUM 41. this year. BRADLEY BEAL 43. 4 3 : the name (and game) to be the next Laker great. SL AMONLINE. ANDREW WIGGINS 46. The crafty lefty thrived in Miami last season and Beal showed why he’s an elite wing. 4 8 : A N D R E W D. where talented offensively as any center in the League. 3 3 . His numbers won’t jump off the page. 38. 35. GA R R A B R A N T. but Hor- McCollum puts on an absolute offensive clinic ford makes countless winning plays. A versatile offensive 50 ranking last year because of his massive force. You gotta selection seems almost inevitable this year. 3 5 : J O E M U R P H Y. mand the backcourt. Still just 21. BROOK LOPEZ After four All-Star seasons in the ATL. A high-level R O B FO L DY/G E T T Y IM AG ES . 4 5 : J ES S E D. Millsap is Armed with a three-point shot. 42 : R I C K O S E N TO S K I /A L L N B A E V I A G E T T Y IM AG ES . PAUL MILLSAP 48. Gasol All eyes will be on Ball this season. the versatility that Barnes brings to the table. 1 pick. Love is still a foot. so. and he Boogie will run the show. Aldridge has faded into Kawhi Leonard’s shadow he has the cojones to take (and make) the big at times. 37: R O B FO L DY/G E T T Y IM AG ES . 40. Holiday is an extension. 4 9: J ES S E D. 26-year-old. JRUE HOLIDAY The Wolves wanted Wiggins to sign a long-term As solid as point guards come. The Mavs like the paint with an expanding offensive game. he’s man is more athletic than Jordan. compete for a title. GORAN DRAGIC Finally with a healthy season under his belt. potential. 41 : B R I A N B A B IN E AU. 3 4: J UA N O’C A M P O . B E R N S T E IN. 5 0. Hard work is paying off for the and intensity sets the tone for Boston. rim protector and passer. DION WAITERS Capable of completely taking over games.

James Harden always brings out ridiculous outfits—though his postgame quotes leave something to be desired. Who will own press conferences this season? » Russell Westbrook had this on lock last season. it is clear that Giannis seen in years. The question tions. right? Right.P R E V I E W STORY TO TELL W H I L E W E ’ R E P R E PA R E D FO R A N O T H E R D O M I N A N T P E R F O R M A N C E F R O M T H E WA R R I O R S T H I S S E A S O N . might be Dion Waiters. KD seems to give less and less of a damn with each passing interview. season in the top 20 in total points.COM . —Peter Walsh. H E R E A R E O U R FAVO R I T E S . is now a fan favorite in the League. should provide become a legitimate contender in the MVP a hint of what’s to come. T H E R E A R E P L E N T Y O F O T H E R I N T R I G U I N G N A R R AT I V E S A R O U N D T H E N B A T H AT W I L L K E E P U S G L U E D T O L E AG U E PA S S A N D S O C I A L M E D I A FO R T H E N E X T S E V E N M O N T H S . This season. Associate Editor 40 SL AMONLINE. and will likely repeat. Senior Editor Is this the year When will the Sixers Giannis Antetokounmpo take over the NBA? explodes? » So we can all agree that we might as well hand the 2018 Larry O’Brien trophy over to the Warriors right now. Senior Writer —Franklyn Calle. though. conversation. Simmons and Fultz have as much potential as any young core we’ve assists. though. rebounds. steals and blocks. you’ve seen a man that is feeling himself on a whole new level. Can they stay healthy and fulfill all those lofty expecta. But that doesn’t mean this season will be without intrigue—for example. » After a breakout season that saw him emerge into an All-Star and become the first player in NBA history to finish the regular how long before the post-Process FEDS take over the NBA? Embiid. —Yaron Weitzman. making fans forget all the ugly years that led to this point? We moving forward is whether the 22-year-old can won’t know that answer for years. The dark horse. LeBron is LeBron. If you’ve been following him on social media at all this summer. Add the fact that the Heat has a real shot to get back to the playoffs and we should be seeing and hearing from Philly Cheese plenty this season. but there will be some stiff competition.

When the Kyrie Honestly? I didn’t think the Warriors were gonna win the Irving trade went down.” Harden told Sports Illustrated.COM 41 . they’d put it all together in KD’s first year. Black Ops in NYC and out if need be. Andrew Wiggins. B U T L E R : GA RY D IN E E N. but it doesn’t mean the Dubs won’t improve. more unbeatable. Waiting…nobody. right? But here we are. “Once [training camp] starts. CJ McCollum posted a picture of Carmelo Anthony in a Blazers jersey on DAV ID D O W. They won’t go for 73+ Lakers army on a war path because of a player’s wins—they’ve hopefully learned why attempting such a feat is a pretty video game rating. —Adam Figman. scoring and selflessness. » Are we sure this is even a debate? Minnesota’s starting five—Jeff Teague. But all signs have been positive so far.. Championship last year. with Durant fur- Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball even set the ther acclimating to GSW’s system and all that. JA M ES : DAV ID L I A M K Y L E / B OT H N B A E V I A G E T T Y IM AG ES . C P/ H A R D E N : W ES T B R O O K : N AT H A N IE L S . T E AGU E : R O N H O S K IN S . we’ll be rolling depth. Jimmy Butler. F U LT Z : J E N N I F E R P OT T H E I S E R . enough. What a time. if you weren’t on Twitter. S IM M O N S : N I C K L A H A M /G E T T Y IM AG ES . terrible idea—but they’ll play more together. It has youth and planned. This past offseason. Harden and Paul experience. wrong. too. W I G G IN S .better? Instagram. Associate Editor to say. Senior Editor —Leo Sepkowitz.. speed and have been in constant communication since the June 28 trade and defense. How will social media continue to change the League? » Raise your hand if you thought 10 years ago that social media would play a major role in M I TC H E L L L E F F/G E T T Y I M AG E S . B U T L E R . and there’s plenty of front-court at UCLA pickup runs. Which is —Max Resetar. More of a Year 2 thing. The 32-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. Taj Gibson and Karl-Anthony giving him an easy out if the partnership with Harden doesn’t go as Towns—is perfectly balanced. Not for lack of talent—I just didn’t think you were missing out on countless news items. Senior Writer SL AMONLINE. but soon already. memes and hours of entertainment. CP3 is far from committing long term to Houston. E M B IID : the NBA. I was jokes. and Rudy Gobert traded playful jabs » with Isaiah Thomas on Twitter. more as a unit. WA R R I O R S : GA R R E T T E L LW O O D . G IB S O N : DAV ID S H E R M A N /A L L N B A E V I A G E T T Y IM AG ES Can the Warriors get. A N T E TO KO U N M P O : R O N T U R E N N E . Reserve Jamal Crawford can bail the team have played together in the Drew League. It may take a minute to jell. this team is gonna cook. Yikes. TO W N S . —Ryne Nelson. Editor-in-Chieff How will the Chris Paul-James Are Harden era the play out in T-Wolves H-Town? ready? » While Chris Paul opted in to the final year of his contract to join the Rockets.



few imagined Hield finding simi- accent (he was born in the town of Freeport). divine. describes them: “Buddy Buckets is for concern with Hield is his lack of ability to create shots for himself on the court—the raw talent. The Kings have not been good in more than a decade.” 20-footer that he releases with one hand. getting ready for a night out. quick release from deep.COM . or on a Hield also held stateside camps in Wichita. where he physically improbable fadeaway floater. KS. Before the draft. he loves to stroke Says Jalisa. surveying the floor.5 dren. Hield moves with a purpose. Jackie Swann. Mike Bibby. one grandmother. And yet. has three alter-egos: Buddy Buckets. Two programs were in the Bahamas—one half-court sets at a measured pace. but for him. just try to find a way to get a shot off quick.” That’s a tall order. “the biggest His sister Jalisa. at the time. in Nassau. CJ McCollum—guys who score the and won several player of the year awards en route to the 2016 ball a lot.” he says. Sacramento? It was as far as could be from his native Bahamas. everyone is so athletic. In his final season at OU. In those starts. the Kings will feature 10 players with zero-to-two years of NBA experience. This season. Nikes. It’s about thousand unorthodox ways from inside the arc. Most of all. where he spent four R O C K Y W I D N E R / N B A E V I A G E T T Y I M AG E S “In the NBA. and though the main game had just wrapped. who helped organize the camps. Hield is the movement’s centerpiece. overall and 43 percent from deep. Sometimes.S TA R S U N D AY D this past February. Hield has a simple. plenty of celebrating remained. plus endless backpacks and necessities. He has swag. He likes to say that he lar success in the NBA. at 215 pounds.” Hield says. He has a feel about himself that separates OU]. Sadly. If done over a full season. I try to nitpick their moves. though. He would donate 150 pairs of he has excellent handles in traffic. 27. played high school ball. you years as a Sooner. a Parker-like kids to the NBA. Bleacher Report wrote that. It’s all about love. and in Oklahoma. able attacking the rim. those moves will converge. There was a JJ Redickian quality to his game [at ready. He’s patient. hope springs eternal in Sacramento thanks to one of the League’s more intriguing young cores. He likes to approach the Islands last year. He was going to Sacramento in a deal for DeMarcus Cousins. to Freeport locals. a Pierce-esque leaning jumper. Hield’s goal is not out of reach. and Hield’s mother. he averaged around 16 points. His Pelicans were hosting All-Star Weekend. a litany of injuries and odd trades cursed that era and plagued the ones that followed. He’s shown a the sacrifice—teaching kids to sacrifice. 4. him from everybody else. floater. money for victims of Hurricane Matthew.5 threes per game. didn’t know what they did. though. Peja Stojakovic and Vlade Divac led a memorably selfless team to the Conference Finals. but for them to go beyond and do greater things. the defense is so good.A. no player This past summer. he’s genuine. Buddy Love is a big heart.” Final Four.P R E V I E W U R I N G A L L . the other in Freeport. I decided to try to turn the franchise around. to be traded at all was bizarre. like on a funky and to then come back for the community. He speaks quickly with a heavy Bahamian from the floor. the franchise nearly left town altogether. Still. Yes. That soul is round picks among them. Steph Curry. he’s humble. Hield started 18 games with Hield grew up in a three-bedroom home filled with seven chil- Sacramento. At 6-4. Buddy Fresh and Buddy Love. 2 assists and 2. Hield hosted a number of camps to raise scored as many points and hit as many threes at higher clips. Change of plans. But I had to go on to the next team. Hield heard the jingle of an ESPN alert. Buddy Hield was at home in New Orleans. He hit 47 percent worked as a housekeeper. His numbers that season were outrageous: 25 points Hield is calling from L. “I didn’t watch Sacramento. Before leaving. 44 SL AMONLINE. Hield was a first-team All-American ing Paul George.” Following the big trade last year. He mindlessly picked up his phone and read off the screen. “Buddy is a big it. which swept through On the floor. Just a few years ago. In 2002. with nine first. Chris Webber. and nowhere near the southern states where he spent his teenage and college years. who rebounds. it’s not about being a big deal. but shoots in a deal there. But I just be me on the court. those one that Hield still carries with him.. and to go to Sacramento was stunning. where he’s been training ahead of and 4 three-pointers per game while shooting over 50 percent his sophomore season. “I was caught in a daze. “I enjoy watch. His wish is not to just get Dirk-ish turnaround. a rookie. he’s comfort. falling forward. For Hield. numbers would stand alone across the NBA—last year. It was no doubt a modest beginning. Buddy Fresh is him red-carpet off the dribble.” This was a common complaint.

” The Ringer quoted a league source as saying. Doug Christie (local TV analyst) and Stojakovic (GM of G-League affil- iate) are constantly around the team. S SL AMONLINE. defender and rim protector. and Harry Giles.COM 45 . showed great promise. out of respect for their peers. the reigning National Player of the Year.” THE FRANCHISE AROUND. at No. 8 boards. “So far. We have nice. young. C-Webb arrived from Washington. 1 steal and 1 block following the trade. Skal Labissiere (21 years old).” Hield says. I DECIDED TO TRY TO TURN my feel for the game—don’t be in a hurry. In the second round. 5. Indeed. preaching to Hield about defensive intensity and three-point shooting. now the team’s GM. what it takes to be a pro. man. Vince Carter and Zach Randolph via free agency. I like guys like that. “I DIDN’T WATCH SACRAMENTO. they picked Frank Mason III from Kansas. will make his NBA debut this season at age 25. Many more players dropped “Wows” and various stunned emojis. I said. a taste of what was to come. As he says. [they] are going to teach them on a daily basis what it takes to win. Willie Cauley-Stein (23) averaged around 13 points. Isaiah Thomas wondered pick acquired in the Cousins trade for two lower first-rounders and if it would even be allowed by the lenient trade-approvers in grabbed Justin Jackson. the Kings did an admirable job building around Even NBA players. be under control. They then flipped a draft McCollum asked if the trade was real. Georgios Hield would go No. shoot over anybody. Each player impressed Hield. more athletic prospect from Duke. has a sweet jumper and rebounds well. NBA2K. swagger when he walks and talks—that he’s it. it’s exactly what we want. recent- ly told The Boston Globe. respectively. “Sacramento freed BUT I HAD TO GO ON TO THE NEXT me to open my game. three front-court pieces. Additionally. He has that age for Cousins. As for Cauley-Stein: “I love Willie. and Stojakovic and the devilish Jason Williams debuted as rookies. and obviously with the addition of veteran guys.” This summer. Hield scored 16 and then 15 points in his first DIDN’T KNOW WHAT THEY DID. it won’t be long before the young Kings have the rest of the league looking up at Sacramento. at 7 feet tall. two games with the Kings.” Some lessons will also come from the Kings royalty that remains involved with the franchise. following a decade of Kings basketball worse than this one. In July. Drawing advice from those guys is sweet. In ’98-99. In addition to Divac. “He’s a great and wondered about a potential rebellion against the front office. For Buddy Hield’s Kings. double-double-filled season 0-8. the deal was met with unanimous shock.” His supporting cast developed. “He can In February. “I was able to figure out the NBA speed. of Solomon Hill and E’Twaun Moore—a glosomy sign. I found TEAM. who were given increased playing time swith Cousins — H I E L D out of the picture. the rookie was stuck behind the likes career. “When I got there. the highly regarded Serbian swingman. CJ the lightning-quick point guard. such a revolution begins now. Bogdan Bogdanovic. and he’s progressing every day. Yo Skal is not bad!” Hield says. the team added veterans George Hill. talented kids. Divac from Charlotte. the pieces are in place—it’s just up to the team’s youngsters to catch up to the resident vets. they selected De’Aaron Fox. The team played to a 44-win pace in a lockout-shortened year. who usually reserve their negative opinions Hield and their three bigs. who was projected to go in the top-10 before knee injuries slowed him down during his lone season in college. Most nights. Spe- cifically.” he says. couldn’t help themselves. 6 to New Orleans. though tapping into their old team success would be even sweeter. “They gave Cousins And Papagiannis: “That’s a big body. when Hield headlined Sacramento’s return pack. “When we made that decision [to trade Cousins]. too. a three-year wing from UNC. In June. a raw. The disbelief didn’t last long.” Divac. who began the Papagiannis (20) is on his way to a bruising.” away for a three-piece meal at Popeyes lol.” Sports Illustrated called the deal “horrible” for Sacramento. These Kings may not be the Webber/Divac Kings—not yet—but perhaps they can emulate the group that preceded that Conference Finals squad. we knew exactly where we were going.

P R E V I E W During the offseason. Now it looks like the League may become intertwined with political activism like never before.COM . W O R D S P E T E R W A L S H 46 SL AMONLINE. with the United States rife with protest and policy change. NBA players used their platforms to voice strong opinions on the state of the country.

LeBron James spoke at his foundation’s annual anyone. political and race issues. VA. fear and like Bill Russell.” called president of the United States. speaking out against racist violence and actively As the events unfolded. with more and more NBA players getting involved in com- his car into a group of protestors. And renounce all violence.” Heyer. along with friends and fellow superstars Carmelo Anthony. Over the and tragedy. LeBron. following in the footsteps of activists players took to Twitter to echo the feelings of shock. who was killed when James The acts of those four superstars have had a trickle-down Alex Fields Jr intentionally drove effect. I don’t want to bash Days later. for a one week after the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling at “Unite the Right” rally that resulted the hands of the police—and called on celebrity athletes to “Speak in the death of 32-year-old Heather up. Chris acists and Nazis descended upon Paul and Dwyane Wade. Donald “We all have feelings and we just want to talk about [issues] Trump fueled the fire by refusing to immediately condemn the the right way. remind people of our situations and do that with love and respect. claiming at a press conference that there was The Players’ Tribune following the violence in Charlottesville. I T ’ S L A B O R D AY 2 0 1 7 and the “What can we do better to help change?” summer is wrapping up following NBA players—and professional athletes in general—have a long I months of political strife. Use our influence. America’s most popular sports league.” just try to be positive and do it the right way. I want to spread love and respect to everyone. disgust that the majority of the public was experiencing. “I violence on “both sides. stood on stage at the 2016 ESPYs—just the city of Charlottesville. more and more marquee players have been using a boiling point during the weekend their status to voice their views and help promote change. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Isiah Thomas. The turmoil reached past few years.” James then made a plea In the NFL. of August 12 when white suprem.” says Karl-Anthony Towns. C O M 47 . protests history of being involved in social. who penned a piece for supremacists. NBA participating in protests. quarterback for those in attendance to take a look in the mirror and ask. I want to family reunion and used his platform to call Trump the “so. Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned as of press time as more and S L A M O N L I N E . munity efforts.

trying to mess up your 48 SL AMONLINE. Hodges wore a dashiki and handed himself with his hands cupped in front of his face. players across the NFL showed their support for the quarterback by kneel- ing for the anthem and saying that Kap should be on a roster if team owners and general managers are serious about winning games. T H I S S P R E A D F R O M second-straight NBA title. sion. who was in his sixth season at the time. he’s trying to accomplish. but did find his way back to the NBA as an assistant honest. They play with your minutes. but his career was defense. He never gard for Craig.COM . but a lot of guys in the league can’t. He averaged 19. He player we’ve decided not to sign. asked Michael Jordan and a reporter about his actions during the playing of the Anthem. though. and to the ground.” he told The In 1996. Usually. Abdul-Rauf was a starter—a damn good one the problems of poor and minority communities.” franchises have participated as co-conspirators” in “blackballing” Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler says. B R I A N B A H R /A L L S P O R T President George H.” Kaepernick is widely believed to have been blackballed from the NFL because of his protest. controversy soon spilled out to the public sphere. “I think if you were doing him from the League “because of his outspoken political nature something to symbolize Kaepernick and what he’s done and what as an African-American man. He was a great team player. And yes. ‘’I had the highest re. this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. I don’t think any of the players are going to do it. it would probably be something similar to that. Bush a letter that urged him to address Unlike Hodges. Abdul-Rauf. “I am not go- ing to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. Denver Nuggets point guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf But before we continue to look forward. but would pray silently to P R E V I O U S : K E V I N W I N T E R /G E T T Y I M AG E S .” The case was later dismissed.” Kaepernick told NFL Media in late August of ’16. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder. it begs the question as to whether we’ll see more activism on the hardwood in the same vein as Kaepernick’s. shoot from his range. was to inquire about him.” Abdul-Rauf and the NBA came to a compromise: When the Bulls visited the White House in ’92 to celebrate their Mahmoud would stand for the Anthem. Hodges filed a $40 million lawsuit against the NBA Undefeated last year. L E F T: A L B E L L O/G E T T Y I M AG E S . a player would have to take a knee Hodges bounced around internationally throughout the rest of or something in that regard during the National Anthem. opting to Before the 1991 Finals against the Lakers. close to the construction of his home in Gulfport. at that. Abdul-Rauf was ‘’I thought we improved ourselves [at Craig’s position]. but not many can never the same after what happened in Denver.’’ Phil met with death threats and had the letters “KKK” spray-painted Jackson told The New York Times in 1996. he couldn’t play much returned for a brief stint in Vancouver in 2001. The reaction to his protest divided NBA fans. never caused moved into the home and in 2001. he started taking a knee before games as the Anthem played. But if it with Jackson’s Lakers from 2005-11. had been recent past. When asked by three-point specialist for the Bulls. “They begin to try to put you in vulnerable claiming that “the owners and operators of the 29 NBA member positions.” Also in 1996. To be the ’90s. MS.2 points and 6. It’s clear that keeping Kaepernick off the field is not going to silence his message or simply make him go away. the Magic Johnson not to take the floor for Game 1 as a way to point guard said that the American flag was a symbol of “oppres- protest the beating of Rodney King by four white LAPD officers. a practicing Muslim. the vacant house was burned any problems and I respected his views.8 assists for Denver that The Bulls would later release him and he never played in season. Kaeper- nick has become the center of attention following his decision to protest the National Anthem by sitting during the playing of the song before a 2016 preseason game.W. either. “I think there are some players that have enough courage to follow [Kaepernick’s] lead or help him on his journey. of tyranny. it’s important to look was suspended by the NBA for refusing to stand during the playing at how the NBA has handled cases of activism and protest in the of the National Anthem. “To me. were to happen. But I also found it strange that not a single team called Abdul-Rauf.P R E V I E W more no-name quarterbacks take the field. I’m a spiritual man. Craig Hodges. I get at least one call about a traded to Sacramento and was out of the League by 1998. skipping out on the ceremony throughout the season. a stay in the locker room or stretch on the sideline. Later on. With the NBA season looming and players becoming increasingly politically active. and the another NBA game. so is he.’’ “It’s a process of just trying to weed you out. Throughout the preseason.

the NBA has become more progressive With more and more people seemingly in tune with what’s and understanding of protest.” Cuban told SLAM via e-mail. Will that carry into NBA arenas this season? “I don’t think it will have much of an impact. but there has not been an NBA protest as divisive as In 2014. it was really because he took these positions.COM 49 . happened now.” NBA players have a chance. they wouldn’t blackball a player for exercising his Also in 2014. Derrick Rose. But it is impossible to totally opposed to. The team was While we would like to believe that the NBA would act much showing solidarity after audio of former Clippers owner Donald differently than the NFL. I JUST TRY TO BE POSITIVE AND DO IT THE RIGHT WAY. Then they sit you more. letter to the players before the season started saying that the the guy just doesn’t have it anymore. to use their platform to raise awareness about issues that hit close to home. For everyone else who goes to or watches games for the love of the team and game.” Based on recent history. that he’s “glad the NBA doesn’t Sterling was subsequently banned for life by commissioner have a politician litmus test for our players. Kyrie Irving. players including LeBron. Then what it looks like is. They look past the treatment of Hodges and Abdul-Rauf. it seems like a big deal. You know. we may soon find out if players are given an opportunity to speak up and spread a message of hope—or if they’re subtly dis- couraged from doing so. player takes a dramatic on-court stand. resident owners. now more than ever. “Most people follow political commentary as much as they follow cricket scores. so we trade him. I’d like to think we Adam Silver. Kaepernick’s kneeling during the National Anthem. and Silver and National Basketball going on in DC thanks to social media and 24/7 news coverage. “I would like to put my faith in the NBA and decided that the officer who choked Staten Island. well.” before Game 4 of the first round of the playoffs. hopefully if a protest were fined for violating the League’s apparel rules.” wore “I Can’t Breathe” shirts during warmups after a grand jury Chandler says. it’s not something they pay attention to. ments sparked outrage throughout the NBA. Kevin Garnett. encourage our players to exercise their constitutional rights. None of the players handled the Donald Sterling situation. it Players Association Executive Director Michele Roberts sent a seems as if you can’t go anywhere these days without stepping into a conversation about politics. S SL AMONLINE. I DON’T WANT TO BASH ANYONE. As events become politicized and cause friction amongst the general public. so they’ve got to been an increase in big-time players using their platform to raise make an example of individuals like this. NY. it’s a wonderful organization and seeing how they Eric Garner to death would not be indicted. Jarrett Jack and Alan Anderson “[What happened to Abdul-Rauf] wasn’t that long ago. the Los Angeles Clippers staged a silent protest constitutional rights.” awareness. “Players Association and the League are always available to help “It’s kind of like a setup. “WE ALL HAVE FEELINGS AND WE JUST WANT TO TALK ABOUT ISSUES THE RIGHT WAY. we won’t really know until a marquee Sterling making racist comments was leaked to TMZ. There has don’t want these type of examples to spread. with LeBron saying at Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told The Washington the time that “there is no room for Donald Sterling in our League. trying to set you up to fail you figure out the most meaningful way to make the difference” and so when they get rid of you. in regards to Kaepernick. The com. I WANT TO SPREAD LOVE AND RESPECT TO EVERYONE. For those of us who pay close attention.” Post.” — T O W N S rhythm. Deron Williams. they can blame it on that as when it comes to social issues.


B U T L E R / N B A E V I A G E T T Y I M A G E S .KEVIN DUR ANT Golden State Warriors N AT H A N I E L S .

Bob last year. The Shockers might for the Hurricanes. KENTUCKY WILDCATS Malik Newman. Like last year. tacking defense. and a move Graham and Mississippi State transfer to the AAC should give them a more bat- 8. and youth pari team. Mason III. but 5. but the Jayhawks will once again have more depth and experience than have an elite backcourt led by Devonte’ anyone in college basketball. top groups of freshmen. ARIZONA WILDCATS Knox. this is a typical John Cali. If Deng Adel or Quentin Snider take the next step and become elite scorers or 9. including Kevin 3. B Y D A V I D C A S S I L O MEN’S TOP 10 returns point guard Jalen Brunson and projected first-round pick Mikal Bridges. WICHITA STATE SHOCKERS one of college basketball’s top guards. Carry On Tradition W I T H A N O T H E R M O N ST E R R EC R U I T I N G J O B BY C OAC H K . 1 team if Donovan Mitchell polished scorers (guard Jevon Carter and returned. Huggins has the ideal team for his grind- it-out style. watch out. at- honest. The season likely hinges on what the Wildcats get inside from former top-20 10. and Everyone is back from a Wichita State fellow backcourt mates Ja’Quan Newton 7. Almost everyone he puts on the floor will be able to play defense.COM . the key will tle-tested and respected regular season. WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS recruit Omari Spellman. While the blue bloods will get all the pre. but this deep team still anchor the backcourt as a Wooden Award 50 SL AMONLINE. MIAMI HURRICANES leaders. KANSAS JAYHAWKS team that was playing as well as anyone at and Lonnie Walker can score in bunches Gone is Wooden Award winner Frank the end of last season. LOUISVILLE CARDINALS the big difference will be that he has two A possible No. featuring one of the country’s will be asked to step up. In many ways. be getting strong inside play. Louisville is still among the forward Esa Ahmad) to keep other teams country’s best due to its great depth. But this year’s squad might take a A blend of youth and experience should while to get in its groove. who redshirted While it will rarely look pretty. and top-notch coaching. Junior Allonzo Trier will best teams. Miami might end up as the best team in the ACC. U C O N N L O O K S T O B O U N C E B AC K A F T E R A S T U N N I N G F I N A L F O U R L O S S . Bruce Brown is 4. D U K E I S P R I M E D T O W I N I TS S EC O N D C H A M P I O N S H I P I N F O U R Y E A R S . as it’s missing 6. ALLONZO TRIER season attention. Jenkins are gone. O N T H E W O M E N ’ S S I D E . VILLANOVA WILDCATS make Arizona one of the deepest teams the veteran leadership found in Calipari’s The familiar names of Josh Hart and Kris in the field.

MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS run in 2017-18. but they’ll miss center Brianna Turner. The defending champions lost three key players to the WNBA draft. If they can overcome her ab- sence. The is one of the best frontcourt freshman in Pac-12 is a deep league. The minutes early. including top recruit Marvin 2. 64]. UCLA BRUINS strength is a great recruiting class led by DEVONTE’ GRAHAM This senior-led group is hoping that it can Rellah Boothe and Chasity Patterson. but the Bruins are the nation. Spartan team that seemed to get better William. Surrounding him is a young hero from the win over UConn. STANFORD CARDINAL This is a team led by its frontcourt. positioned as well as anyone to win the 4. Notre Dame should once again be the class of the ACC. OHIO STATE BUCKEYES M I TC H E L L : G F I U M E / M A RY L A N D T E R R A P IN S /G E T T Y IM AG ES . TENNESSEE LADY VOLUNTEERS 1. who will spend the season rehabbing a torn ACL. recruiting class that should see major ness in East Lansing [for more on Miles. 8. Morgan T R IE R : A L E X C A PA R R O S /G E T T Y IM AG ES . whose star player Diamond a group led by senior Gabby Williams— DeShields decided to leave Knoxville and possibly the nation’s top two-way player. Notre Dame should once again be GABBY WILLIAMS poised for a deep March run. soon enough.COM 51 . but also a chance 1. NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH A young but talented team. see pg. Tennessee will KELSEY MITCHELL Huskies should hoist the trophy again be back in the Final Four soon. Texas is a program on March wins. SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS conference. the Buckeyes not only have perhaps college 5. 9. but the 2. The anchor to this year’s team will be the inside play of Kalani Brown and Lauren WOMEN’S TOP 10 Cox. MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS Gamecocks can reload for another deep Perhaps the best player returning in all of 6. DUKE BLUE DEVILS The backcourt is the strength here. returns along with backcourt every week last year and should—at the counterpart Victoria Vivians. G R A H A M : T IM OT H Y N WAC H U K W U/ N C A A P H OTO S V I A G E T T Y IM AG ES . as few teams boast a duo as talented as Alanna Smith and Nadia Fingall. The other strength is a top-notch recruiting class that should make an immediate impact and could push Stanford into the Final Four. a surefire After scoring one of the most memorable attack. SL AMONLINE. 1 seed in March. close out its career with some memorable Without question. the Bulldogs are back for more. BAYLOR LADY BEARS Bagley III. The other 7. there is still plenty of talent left in Waco. play professionally overseas. That’s a good thing for the Lady one key player is back from last year in Volunteers. W IL L I A M S : P E T E R G. CONNECTICUT HUSKIES Most believe the best recruiting class There’s no surprise here. If the team jells properly. 10. as to make the Final Four. They have a true stud at each position. 3. this Duke Big Ten and earning a No. including Jordin Canada. the this year or down the road. Ohio State should While comparisons will be made to last both Ariel Atkins and Brooke McCarty have no trouble running through a weaker year’s underachieving group. they Guard Nina Davis has graduated. return for the Longhorns. as the Huskies in the country will be in Knoxville this are once again the team to beat. A’ja Wilson will key the basketball is Miles Bridges. while 7-footer DeAndre Ayton are back. The three leading scorers the rise. and Elisia Grissett leads a strong lottery pick who had some unfinished busi. candidate. TEXAS LONGHORNS basketball’s best player. All but season. wins in the history of college basketball. A IK E N /G E T T Y IM AG ES very least—win the Big Ten. but can cut down the nets. team should reach expectations because of its balance. Filling out the backcourt will be a strong group of veterans and freshmen. With the return of Kelsey Mitchell. Whether it’s After last year’s disappointment.

P R E V I E W .


P R E V I E W .

The team (Bagley Jr has always been his son’s months after the transfer. nents.9 bling the ball up the floor or making the can play inside and out—taking over the points. Bagley III is games. he was often spotted somewhere team’s important games was pulled off set to be either the best or second best on the baseline holding a camcorder. This became a bit of a source center position over the past couple of game.1 boards and 2. his grip on the top got tighter. “It takes height.” Bagley III says. and at no point did he come close to control the post.” Bagley Jr says. named Gatorade State Player of the Year parents came in and we moved to a lot of That year at Corona del Sol. a fully learn the entirety of the game. When MBIII was in fifth grade. 6-11 Bagley III averaged 24. and the multiple high schools he Cameron Indoor Stadium the morning of turnovers. A lot taller.” Bagley Jr says.” The second step tends to be talent. a basketball program Those skills eventually earned him a to be aware about developing the kid. but my dad still trusted me to attended as a teen—but what remained his freshman move-in day. of the media who were credentialed to Bagley III and his younger brother Marcus and is a lock to be a top 5 NBA draft pick capture footage. he aver. Bagley III never struggled foresight on the evolution of the sport. at controversy in which Hillcrest’s academic Wendell Carter Jr and Gary Trent Jr. was dropping his eldest son off O at school when he came to a realization: His boy was taller than all the other kids. being able to do what I love to do.) could attend Sierra Canyon HS. CA. 10. nament wins by throwing him under the aforementioned superstars exploded onto (Bagley III had 28 and 12 in the loss. better. you have for Hillcrest Prep. center fading away and “unicorns” like In fact. “It’s a good first step. Kristaps Porzingis—athletic 7-footers who grown. there’s a little bit of a theme of “There’s a lot of eyes on me now. player in the country. and on his own inconsistency here—with the many AAU Bagley III says minutes after wrapping AAU team he let his son learn the ins and programs Bagley III played in as a young up his first SLAM cover shoot at Duke’s outs of handling the rock. depending on your umenting the action alongside members where they settled in Chatsworth. sometimes.6 points and 10. Bagley Jr says. Marvin Bagley Jr. Paul Pierce and Lamar Odom all while Bagley Jr preferred his son develop has been ranked top three (and usually attended Sierra Canyon games at some a well-rounded style of play.” That’s when Bagley Jr decided that Bagley III should probably get involved with sports—Junior had played college football at North Carolina A&T and then in the Arena Football League—and basketball made sense. 1) in his class since he was a freshman point during his tenure there. generally just toss around smaller oppo. The following the tallest kid in his class—and he quickly of programs that played for trophies. be it drib. Bagley III is next in line to carry that Southern Section Open Division semifinals the family over the years. for obvious reasons. in June of 2018. “It was like. at the end of the ’16-17 season. the scene. He count how many teams I’ve been on. too. SL AMONLINE. where I am today. But Bagley Jr wanted his son to Karl-Anthony Towns. Bagley III left Corona del Sol accumulated skills to match the height. “It’s exciting. Wow.” It helped that Bagley Jr had some Over the years Bagley III kept getting Growing up. with countless big man torch. Joel Embiid and In 2016-17 at Sierra Canyon. We where students take classes at Starshine scholarship to Duke University.0 blocks per right pass. and he was teams held me back. But mere roster in the nation this fall.” hours honing their on-court craft. It’s go out and play and push.” founded Phoenix Phamily. doc. we played for a lot secutive state championship. and that’s when my at Corona del Sol HS in Tempe. grab rebounds and With the traditional back-to-the-basket to falling out of the HS prospect rankings. if we’re being honest. “I can’t aged 19. ESPN.) Chris basket and dominating the competition. leading the school to its fourth con- kept growing—he never stopped being “In the beginning. guiding force. different teams. Even over the past year. Academy in Phoenix and spend hours upon he’ll be the star of the most stacked NCAA ment wasn’t there. “At a young age. amidst a mild also features top recruits Trevon Duval.3 rebounds per and Bagley III had plenty of that.” commitment to the game of basketball. his father. leading the school to the CIF of contention for those who dealt with years. consistent was. ascension was put in motion before the state champions Bishop Montgomery. N M A R V I N B A G L E Y I I I ’ S first day of first grade. his pops Sure. where left a lot of teams because that develop. AZ. But Bagley III’s inevitable before the team was defeated by eventual coaches wanting to ride Bagley III to tour. so opinion of Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr.” game.” Bagley III says. he might be really tall. something I’ve always dreamed of—going “I’m thankful for that—that’s why I’m the only thing that truly mattered: a real to college and playing college basketball. “Some No. the family left Arizona for California. “I could have 50 child. “Head and shoulders above everyone else. The soft-spoken Arizona native Paul.COM 55 . along most of his son’s AAU and Drew League status was in question and one of the with senior Grayson Allen.” season.


who has pivoted feel that I want to be the best at it. selects him next June will have a legion than anyone else in his age group. and it dou- bly helped that Coach K told Bagley III he could wear his preferred No. Bagley III hooped in the Drew League. The combination family walk through Cameron the league’s all-star game. J O S H L E F KO W I T Z /G E T T Y IM AG ES front of the rim and dunked it. despite it being retired as Duke legend Danny Ferry’s former number. But there isn’t much reason to worry. Seemingly Of course one or two impressive often. then soared toward the he could take off to college. Marvin caught a pass while ly only completed his junior year. something like. stayed away from. 35. a path that began sometime was unstoppable. that’s on Did I just see what I just saw?” Chevalier audience watching. and I just of the rim? And he just caught it. be coming to a halt anytime soon. His instincts were to Duke University. night on SportsCenter. ing season. Good Lord Almighty. I work hard every day. minutes after he He dropped 32 points and grabbed 11 will be the team’s head coach this com. spun for a full year of eligibility remaining before at Duke to show and prove to the few who complete 360.” the one-and-dones that Duke previously need to play. In the meantime. fruitful obviously things he needs to improve you’re the guy we keep hearing about!” career.” handshakes. arrives on campus for move-in rebounds in a contest against DeRozan. of fans eagerly waiting for him to hit the tournament. Bagley III announced my mind: Be the best player you can be. with a court.” Bagley III says. that it’s hard for me to not want to do just like. “The freakishness of it—he couldn’t that he was reclassifying and committing he says. Marvin Bagley III and his and put up an 18 and 20 performance in say other than that. but on the high school level. “I was like.COM 57 . he’s got a season running the baseline. Bagley III had technical. “I don’t know what to day. He’s able to rebound it and dribble every person who bumps into Bagley III performances during a summer league it. rose up. If you 360 and dunked it. That’s my main goal. so there probably won’t be any distractions. In one Until August 14. “That’s the only reason I play—to win. “So doesn’t exactly guarantee a long. Duke’s next superstar is around first grade and doesn’t appear to Chevalier also coached Bagley III on officially present. But that might not be sold just yet.” says Andre Chevalier. There’s says the same thing. It helped that Bagley Jr grew up in the Durham area (though the fact that the family had been living in sunny California should’ve also given an edge to local USC and UCLA). NBA the AAU circuit a little bit. JaVale O who was an assistant coach at Sierra N T H AT T U E S D AY in late McGee. facing up against grown men such as current and “He’s a freak. of who he is doesn’t come along very en route to our cover shoot. and whichever team this kid was playing on a different level things were going to play out like this. pursue— don’t want to be the best. and I feel like I’m going to be around people who want to accomplish high goals like me. then there’s no “I was like.” S SL AMONLINE. did a Coach Mike Krzyzewski. Julius Randle and Baron Davis. well. with a national “Every time I’m on the court. I feel like it was a great fit for me. another talented big man with a very similar skillset. which is where Just months ago. “Hearing the coaches talk to me about how I play and how I could get on the court and fit in with the team. Over the summer. most in the college teams are eagerly waiting for his name to he experienced the moment he realized basketball scene couldn’t have guessed be available in 2018. He visited the school for the first time as a ninth grader. “I just love the environ- ment here—it’s a calm place. but it’s hard to doubt Bagley III is on upon. and he shoots it pretty good. “I put so much into this game have thought about it. he Kids ask for selfies and parents offer the right path. his strategy to accept—and.” It’ll be plenty interesting to see how Duke squeezes Bagley III into what was already an exciting roster—he’ll likely play a lot of minutes alongside Carter Jr. Just a perfect fit for me. Canyon while Bagley III played there and August. former NBAers DeMar DeRozan. How do I get myself to the front It was yet another recruiting win for that. “I want to win the National Champion- ship.” says. and had been back a couple times since then.” he adds.

P R E V I E W .


I felt like I had everything WORKING THEN THERE’S NO ONE THAT here to reach my goals. until high school. and would work on his jumper on the arena’s hardwood.” illuminating a couple of signs that bring While Columbia didn’t have the same back clear memories of 2010. Porter Jr was homeschooled up September and Michael Porter Jr is en. but eventually sun’s reflection shines brightly on a wall. home my friends were my basketball ing bowl. the bright lights that usually illuminate Instead. unlike in the Indy area—a hotbed the 15. access to Mizzou’s facilities. I remember coming to these games and Mizzou Arena was packed. I loved basketball. The strength coach for the women’s team would put me through some strength training at a very young “THERE IS SOME PRESSURE age. new teachers or new classmates. really. “Back reach the hardwood floor and lower seat. Only fitting that the Tigers would become the first D1 program to offer 60 SL AMONLINE. IN. the only hint of hoops in Columbia turned out to be very light inside comes from the sunset glare challenging.P R E V I E W “I remember sitting all the way up there in section 208 with two strangers I sitting next to me. then- Mizzou men’s head coach Frank Haith of- fered him a scholarship on the spot. So I found myself alone a lot. He’d shadow the team around the fa- That’s the year Porter first set foot in with his dad on staff. essarily about adjusting to a new school The stands are completely empty and system. area. “I was able to get in here and shoot on the gun. just as Porter Jr wrapped up fifth grade. But notices the coincidental angle in which then that also worked to my advantage the sunlight comes in. accepted a Director of Basketball Operations position with the Mizzou women’s basketball pro- gram in 2010.” Porter says. experience the home game atmo- the arena. “I was able to come here whenever I wanted to. He wasn’t feeling the move at first. MO. we’d get free tickets and I would come by myself sometimes. where the was a tough adjustment.” One night—while still in the sixth CAN STAND IN FRONT OF MY PATH. I just loved BUT HONESTLY I KNOW IF I KEEP it. Porter. I remember shoot- SOMETIMES—LIVING UP TO THE HYPE— ing a thousand shots a night. there the upper deck. “Since my dad worked here. And so the challenge joying the tranquility of a deserted Mizzou with relocating at that age wasn’t nec- Arena while sitting by himself. looking up while wasn’t too many basketball players in the sitting to the left of the scorer’s table. basically at sphere from section 208. courtside. Michael Sr. Dark and quiet. I couldn’t think of anything better. kind of hoops culture that Indiana offered. it does shine over a portion of friends and then coming here. will. Like the majority of his seven other I T ’ S A T U E S D AY afternoon in early siblings. And so the family relocated from Indianapolis. to Columbia.” he recalls. because Although the natural light fails to I was homeschooled.” he says.” Porter’s dad. Porter Jr did have cilities. Columbia became home. because I found myself in the gym a lot He begins smiling while pointing to because I didn’t have many friends. brimming through the large glass panels “It took a couple of years for it to feel on the sides of the arched-roof façade.” grade—after Porter Jr finished his usual — P O R T E R J R shooting workout at the arena. like home—to meet new friends. That an upper corner of the arena.COM .000-seat facility from the rafters for basketball—finding friends through are off.

 Romar eventually became Porter Jr’s state school this season only after initially up to that point.” non-denominational ministry organiza- The hometown hero will suit up for the Meanwhile. Washington former NBA All-Star Brandon Roy as oldest of the eight Porter siblings. That was until a series of March Catholic HS for ninth grade in 2013.COM 61 .5 points. title as a junior. Senior ultimately decided to their younger brother. committing to playing for Washington in the Columbia’s Father Tolton Regional While Bri and Cierra stayed put in Pac-12. the sports arm of Cru (then called But his journey to wearing a Tigers platform. In 2015. an assistant coaching position with the school was his younger brother. Coban. Porter Jr enrolled in godfather years later. who was the Tigers. Nathan Hale had appeared to be on their way to a full-blown Romar and Michael Sr had actually a dismal 3-18 record. Huskies soon after. The following year. right? that you can make change if you have a Action.4 assists that season. joined the Tigers’ program. when Jontay (who was a top-30 national recruit “We’ve been naturally gifted and realize the two were teammates for Athletes In in his class and had committed to the SL AMONLINE. but with MPJ and Missouri hoops takeover. known each other since the 1980s. averaging 28. Porter Jr transferred to Nathan events led him back to where it all began. after being homeschooled tion. the presented to Michael Sr. 11. and second oldest Porter sibling. uniform was anything but a simple one. he led Tolton to its first basketball state Hale HS in the Emerald City for his senior After three years as Director of Basket. Joining MPJ at the 6-3 forward). There Columbia. also joined Seattle. and Cierra on the floor. form.him a scholarship. to assistant coach of the women’s team But in 2016 a new opportunity was In Seattle. Campus Crusade for Christ) a non-profit. Cierra. Jontay. and basketball is a great plat.” Cierra says. Nathan Hale had just hired at Mizzou in 2013. “That’s what drives us. the Porter family themselves relocating once again. The prior season. Bri (a head coach Lorenzo Romar offered him its new head coach. a 6-4 forward and the Huskies’ men’s basketball program in who was coming in as an 11th grader. With dad on the bench and Bri accept the offer and the Porters found entering his freshman year.8 year and committed to the Washington ball Operations. Michael Sr was promoted rebounds and 3.

National Player of the Year accolades. the sharp-shooting MPJ averaged a ridiculous women’s basketball head coach. She’s the Porter siblings’ aunt—sister steals and 2. finishing 29-0 while Oh.” and finishing 11th in the Pac-12 with a Adds Bri. Huskies for 2018) coming in. both family reunion of all sorts. 5.2 list.P R E V I E W Lisa. Jontay. Tournament in four years and haven’t to remain committed to the Huskies and Jontay announced that he’d do the same been able to get out of the first round thus found themselves looking for a new by reclassifying to the Class of 2017.6 rebounds. you can add Robin Pingeton.7 blocks. Jayda. Lisa. 13. but I think what we’ve Call it fate or pure coincidence but on focused on more is having fun together. The Huskies went 9-22.COM . around a program that hasn’t been able nounced the hiring of Cuonzo Martin.2 points. and so that’s what we talk consecutive year. Coban and Michael Sr. viously has an expectation to succeed and where he coached for 15 years.” MPJ 62 SL AMONLINE. Cierra. who to surpass 10 wins in each of the last had just resigned as Cal’s head coach a three seasons. ultimately earning of their mother. feated for the season. brother and sisters. Izaak. Mizzou had fired head to get more than three wins in confer- coach Ken Anderson just 10 days prior. just wasn’t what they used to be. expectations Jontay and Michael Sr (men’s assistant were high. The team has also failed few hours earlier. of 2019 recruit PJ Fuller.” the very same day that Romar was fired MPJ and company will look to turn at Washington—March 15—Mizzou an. The program. the men’s team Michael Jr and Michael Sr had announced are now in their junior and senior years. Michael Jr. their father had a com. The grand return to Columbia is a campaign. and with Roy respectively. The basketball [side]. that they were coming home—returning ence play in each of those three years. The tough season ulti. other siblings. the Porters saw no reason basketball program. “This is probably our last 2-16 record in conference play—missing year all in one place. After some talks with Martin. “Not everyone has pletely different experience at Washington the opportunity to be in college with three in his first year. Two months later. to the 36. excel in that area. Bri. about. Jevon. Bri and Cierra “As time went on. on the men’s side for the Tigers. kind of living life out on the NCAA Tournament for a sixth together. DAV ID B A N K S /G E T T Y IM AG ES And so with MPJ’s godfather no longer to Columbia to join the Mizzou men’s The Tigers haven’t been to the NCAA at the helm.0 assists. coach) will look to take care of business The results? Nathan Hale went unde. everyone ob- mately cost Romar his job at Washington. 1 spot Porter family tree within the Missouri on MaxPreps’ national team rankings. while MPJ. 3. “It’s been surreal so far. of the Big Dance since the 2009-10 home immediately. and still members of the bringing in other pieces like top-50 Class women’s basketball team.” Jontay says While the Porter brothers enjoyed a of his first month on campus with his perfect season. So it’s a once in a lifetime losing a school record 13 straight games opportunity. and for those keeping score of the capturing the state title and the No.

program to when he first sat in section along with Jontay. yond for the freshman stud. though. And Porter Jr anyone. and I kind of view this as the same myself. it Brandon [Roy] was the coach and he been given a gift and I want to show it— was basically a dream come true. I WAS REALLY JUST LOOKING Washington commit. so here. It’s to renew the Mizzou atmosphere that I “The thing about Nathan Hale is never for anybody else. I was really just looking his new team and his old one. I honestly play for God and then at games. none of 208 in 2010. I don’t really try to impress didn’t really have too much of a crowd games in the whole season.” date for the No. after I committed. And so when I left Seattle and already sees some similarities between I play for myself. er and smaller until this past year they just a year after the Raiders won three “For me. It’s because I’ve knew was possible. When you add Jontay to the mix. Coming back here. I KNEW WAS POSSIBLE.COM 63 . “WHEN I LEFT SEATTLE AND COMMITTED and top-100 recruit Blake Harris. I VIEWED IT that’s four top-100 recruits that Mizzou welcomed just this fall. mostly due to his super versatile — P O R T E R J R scoring arsenal and deadly shooting touch from just about every corner on the floor—leading to plenty of Kevin Durant comparisons—there are some very high hopes this season in Columbia and be- says. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. who. It was the situation. “The crowds just got small. a former HERE. “I have my committed here.” S SL AMONLINE. “It wasn’t just times—living up to the hype—but honestly perfect situation. 1 team in the country those expectations mean too much. AS GOD PUTTING THE PIECES IN FOR With many considering MPJ a candi- ME TO COME BACK HERE. a former Illinois commit. comparing the last few years of the turning around a program it’s MPJ. own standards of how I should play. I kind brought people in with him to play with but I don’t do it for other people. Hale into the No.” me turning that program around. who both agreed to join the Tigers this spring after MPJ came TO RENEW THE MIZZOU ATMOSPHERE THAT on board.” He’s referring to top-50 recruit Jeremiah Tilmon. I was able to pull in more pieces with me.” Porter Jr says.” MPJ says. There is some pressure some- in for me to come back here. Brandon I know if I keep working then there’s no If anyone has recent experience in had other players coming with him—and one that can stand in front of my path. I do it for of viewed it as God putting the pieces us. helped flip Nathan If you ask Porter Jr.


52). expect to the little things that count in college. Morris Peterson and OF DECLARING FOR THE DRAFT CAME AS Mateen Cleaves (aka “The Flintstones”) A SURPRISE. players. The 19-year-old joins the likes of Charlie Bell.9 percent from behind Cassius Winston. 8. 2. was running. the team would have been considered a successful Award.” he says. 2 in the SLAM NCAA men’s rank- season.’ didn’t want to go back on my goals. a consensus top-10 and a second round exit in the 2017 was named Big Ten Freshman of the recruit and potential top-10 pick in next NCAA Tournament.” grew up watching Michigan State—that’s Along with Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr how I really fell in love with basketball. Save for Jackson. But in April. “The house. together and are as battle tested as any anything short of reaching the Final Four Capable of playing in the post or on squad in college hoops. and was named to the All-Big Ten has been through an up-and-down season season. Jaren Jackson Jr.” Spartans went 19-15. playing the wing spot and doing a lot of tory—no small feat considering the talent ward who can jump out of the gym. Kalin Lucas and Adreian Payne. and they’re welcoming finished last season with a 20-15 record Respert did it during the 1991-92 season.9 points. you gotta be tougher. 230 pound guard/for. all the little things count.1 assists and the mix for a Final Four berth. It’s team’s worst since 2010-11. Miles Bridges is in the conver. For most schools. was a finalist for the Karl Malone year’s draft. Charlie and all T knew we had a great team coming back the players who went to Michigan State. the team returns guards shooting and 38. “There’s open gyms with no fouls. He grew up admiring blessing and I give all the glory to God because I wrote my goals down when I the late-’00s and early ’10s Michigan for that. and with a crowded frontcourt One rebound can win you a game. victories over the top programs in college last year. As a young kid from Flint. Bridges averaged ings) and will undoubtedly be in 16. [this offseason] because I’m going to be of the best players in Michigan State his- Bridges. The reason I became as good as I am is because I used to play B Y P E T E R W A L S H with older kids and get mad over fouls. He was the first freshman to and Tum Tum Nairn Jr along with big T H E M I C H I G A N S TAT E S PA R TA N S lead the Spartans in scoring since Shawn man Nick Ward. I gotta check Twitter or IG immediately help us for this year. “I Green. that has passed through the university. his high school career at West Virginia’s program is an honor. EXPERIENCED SPARTANS TEAM PRIMED “Flint produces tough basketball TO MAKE A TRIP TO THE 2018 FINAL FOUR.5 blocks on 48.6 percent field-goal with Miles. They would tell me. Along 1. and a basketball. is a disappointment. and for me to be a key piece of this when he announced his return. but not in East Lansing. The super-talented Bridges grew up in “I really love Michigan State basket- He shocked most of the basketball world Flint. I and I knew I had to lead the team. style that the NBA provides. He had more than a few like it’s something that’s going to really Michigan State is a perennial power.SOPHOMORE MILES BRIDGES’ DECISION but Bridges is well aware of the pro- gram’s deep history and affiliation with TO RETURN TO MICHIGAN STATE INSTEAD his hometown. honor for me. 58) and Duke’s Marvin Bagley III With Bridges back in the fold. I “I’m tight with Mo Pete. putting plenty of opponents on posters.” Bridges says. before heading east to close out ball.COM 65 . As a freshman. the perimeter. the see Bridges flying down the court and Before he bounces for the lavish life- team and school got a dose of good news. this Year. as Flint hoopers who stayed local to attend MSU.” S SL AMONLINE.” Bridges says. Bridges has a Miles Bridges was coming back for his “I had to really work on my conditioning chance to make his mark and become one sophomore year. the (pg.3 boards. Josh Langford the arc. The ’16-17 season was the that will cause him to play on the wing missed rebound can lose you a game. I never was young and one of them was to win a State teams that featured Draymond thought that I’d be in this position. Bridges is at his best when “We faced a lot of adversity and I feel Under legendary head coach Tom Izzo. It is an National Championship. “It’s a “The main reason I came back was Huntington Prep.” he says. thought to be a one-and-done freshman. NOW. ‘You’re not getting that call. a top-5 team in the nation (they in college basketball this upcoming rank No. when the more this upcoming season. a 6-7. HE’LL LEAD A DEEP. Spartans enter the season as Big Ten sation to potentially be the best player favorites. MI. he’s on the break.” Bridges says. Yo.” (pg. where Second Team. churning out pro players and to see that over and over again dunks main lesson is.

What If Nick Anderson Made One Of Those Free Throws? S H E A S E R R A N O ’s new book. Here’s an excerpt. in which Shea provides a fascinating hypothetical: What if Orlando Magic guard Nick Anderson drained just one of those four freebies at the end of Game 1 of the ’95 Finals? I L L U S T R A T I O N S B Y A R T U R O T O R R E S . informative group of passages that answers questions you never realized needed to be asked. Basketball (And Other Things). is a hilarious.

“Would it have been a differ- ed to ask Anderson about that. but also in relation to the franchise (it was only in its sixth season of existence). is what happened right before Kenny Smith’s three. After the ball was batted around some.”6 1. Can’t change what happened. 5. but really he just ence had you made one of those free throws back in Game 1?” wanted to ask him about the end of Game 1. The Magic had the ball and were up three with 55 seconds left in the’s Win Probability Calculator. but that we were all watching a potentially legacy-altering. save for the first game. interviewed Nick Anderson. 2. no team had a lead larger than four points in the final six minutes.3 Then all of the trees and birds and humans and animals in Orlando died. . SL AMONLINE. only ever handled the situation The championship series that year was mostly an unremark. It clanked off the front of the rim. I mean this as far as the players go (Shaq and Penny. That’s in the past.5 seconds left). the Magic had a game win probability of 98. Jim Gray ered. They drafted him 11th in 1989. 3. and when the camera zoomed in on his face after the miss he was fake-smiling to himself and everyone knew right then that not only was there no chance he was going to make that next free throw. After a bit of stalling. A neat little note: Nick Anderson was actually the very first pick that the Orlando Magic ever made. “Yeah.2 built that. All most anyone remembers from that game. . and the Magic never recov- A T THE END OF the 1995 NBA Finals. But Grant. and that’s exactly what happened. and then Anderson and Brian Shaw and Penny played keep-away with the ball until the Rockets were able to foul Nick Anderson a few seconds later. Anderson after the Magic lost the series. The Magic ran down the clock a bit more. Shaq. 4.COM 67 . The Magic had lost the series But so that’s why when Jim Gray was interviewing Nick four games to no games to the Houston Rockets. Horace Grant. a large set of teeth acting as a commentator for the game. got just enough of his fingers on it to deflect the ball over to Penny (20 seconds left). the Rockets (fucking finally) rebounded the ball. “How can you expect to win an NBA Finals game if you . though. Penny Hardaway. It missed.can’t get a rebound after a really tough player like Nick Anderson misses two free throws?” Bill Walton. asked exasperatedly. I can’t think about The Magic. Kenny hit his three. Dennis Scott.9 seconds left). said. like a hero. This is according to Inpredictable. uh. He said. But.3 second left. stood right there and considered the notion and then able one. At that exact moment. overwhelmingly talented1 but still very young. Anderson missed that fourth free throw. Penny Hardaway drove into the lane and missed a layup. and everything went dark. Nick Anderson settled in to shoot his third free throw. yeah. which remains an all-timer. sending him to the line (10. which sent the game into overtime. who. The second free throw was even shorter. and so Gray want.4 the Orlando Magic. This time it was too long. Anderson managed to secure the rebound and was fouled again (7. history-shaping meltdown. only to give it all back later in the game. banging around in the paint again.5 percent. then Brian Shaw fired up a three-pointer. shooting guard for Penny’s knees turned into bubble gum. the Magic didn’t make it out of the first round of the playoffs for 12 years. They lost the series. The Rockets’s Kenny Smith hit a very contested three with just under two seconds to go. for my money. Horace Grant grabbed the offensive rebound and dribbled it out so the Magic offense could reset itself (37 seconds left). were both 23). maybe it would’ve. and then Hakeem Olajuwon won it in overtime by tipping in an errant Clyde Drexler layup with 0. Following the 1996 season.5 he wanted to ask him who’d repeated as champions. Shaq signed with LA 13 months later. Hakeem hit his game-winner. up an early 20-point lead at home. the Magic had an overall game win probability of 99.0 percent. Penny threw it out to Nick Anderson. and five of those years they didn’t make the playoffs at all. The fourth quarter was taut and perfect. Anderson short-armed his first free throw. Brian Shaw. Nick Anderson. the team’s two best players. about those free throws. And at that exact moment. ricocheting back toward Anderson. And Nick.


there’s the next major thing that happens: to beat you twice. Anderson. We get Hakeem Olajuwon as Kazaam. let’s go ahead Shaq with Penny and Shaq. Magic out of the playoffs in 1996 in the version of the NBA The second is that Vlade says. WHAT? I know. who the Lakers traded to Penny Hardaway. guarding Michael Jordan. leading to a game-winning basket from Horace Grant. SL AMONLINE. and so then they’d have really been feeling themselves. a seasoned winner in Horace Grant. say. let’s jump back a bit first. They probably would’ve beaten the Magic in 1997. an unflappable Charlotte to get the rights to Kobe. but what about Jordan? He was all the way back something: You can get fucked if you think I want to live in any from his retirement by then. Shaq and Penny sudden his accepted status as the Greatest of All Time starts to are sitting in deck chairs by a pool talking about things. I mean. he was not the fully formed Jordan that nobody could beat. boom. on paints him. By two seasons after the missed free throws. Here’s the cool thing. that was the first KG lose. was able to poke the ball away from him. play in Charlotte. But. So let’s do that.) all get pushed aside as he tries to chase down more which is what they become. who was their number-one pick in 1993. rings. there’s an ESPN documentary that came out in 2016 What else? called This Magic Moment that was all about how the Magic If the Magic get the 1998 championship then that means Jordan came within earshot of becoming a dynasty before watching it only gets five championships instead of six. What happens there? lotte. or Vince Carter’s. Shaq says that if Orlando had won a title. fine. And so if that had happened. 7. and so that means Kobe definitely isn’t finish- can’t say for certain that the Bulls would’ve beaten the Magic ing with five rings. they had a 1/66 chance of winning the number-one pick in 1993). That opens up a whole bunch of inverse is true. and so they won that game. and so all of his side projects (the rapping. okay.COM 69 . too: Let’s say that Nick hit at least one of those interesting doors. Kobe calls Kevin Garnett in the summer especially when you consider that the Magic knocked the Bulls of 2007. Bibby. That means that the leading role in Kazaam is open.” then goes to Charlotte. 8. But let’s at the very least give the 1998 loss sapped them of their confidence.7 As the credits roll at the end of it. Doug. So the Magic win the 1995 who win Game 1 of a best-of-seven series end up winning the championship.8 And. I’m just not quite sure how that series plays out.9 which would’ve been a real disaster.) So the Magic win the 1995 championship. I’ll play in Char- that we know as true today. Jackson). right? Like what? How do you mean? Well. for Penny Hardaway (and three first-round draft picks). Anderson’s free throw percentage plummeted from 70 percent to 40 percent. That means you’ve got a young and healthy The first is that Vlade Divac. plays for Charlotte. pens—how are things different—if Nick Anderson makes those but it still happened. picks it up. too. teaming up with Pau. retiring when his agent told him that the Lakers had traded his-prime-but-already-dominant Shaq. then: (1) Kobe to stay together for several years after having won a champi.11 The Lakers get Kobe but they That’s fair. So. In January of 2016 he said he’d contemplated a wonderful basketball mind in Brian Shaw. What hap. How unlikely was the formation of that championship-caliber Magic team? The Magic not only had to win the number-one overall pick two years in a row to get there (they drafted Shaq with the 1992 pick. “Okay. and so then they’d have been feel. Then someone Like what? would’ve leaned in their ear and told them that home teams Well. Hardaway’s career. so we get at least three seasons 6. And if that happens. They end up winning the Finals 4–2. etc. We can’t just ignore that. he’d have never left. too (the Bulls What happens in the Finals that year? were so good in 1996 that when they went 69–13 in 1997 it was The Magic players talked a bunch later about how that Game 1 somehow a regression). though his role in it was philosophically the exact opposite of his role in the Rockets Game 1 disaster: The Magic were down by one with 18 seconds left in Game 1. acting. tells him he’s sick of losing and also tired of seeing out of the playoffs in 1995. man. but they also had to be lucky/smart/dumb enough to trade Chris Webber.Here’s the thing of it. first two free throws. At in 17 games before the playoffs started so you can argue that least. I don’t get Shaq. And those guys all get him to Charlotte. sure. What about Kobe? We’re basically replacing Kobe and And since we’re rewriting pieces of history. the ing themselves even further. their conversation. distraught from having lost the 1995 title and looking even in a dream imaginary scenario with all of the knobs and to boost his own signal. Vlade. and convinces KG to make the move to LA instead of year Jordan was back from his retirement and he only played Boston for the 2008 season. But if the Magic didn’t lose to the Rockets in 1995.10 Kobe onship? Shit. So there’s that: Shaq stays with the Magic. What happens to Kobe? right now and erase the parts where injuries stole Penny There are probably two ways that that situation plays out. It’s murder for the rest of the ’90s and early probably ends up with a career closer to. and so all of a wash away. The defining play of that series also happened in Game 1 and also involved Nick Anderson. let’s free throws? How is the NBA different after that? go conservative: Let’s say the Bulls did beat the Magic in 1996. and let me tell you Yeah. So then they’re feeling unbeatable. an unbroken Nick Anderson. Peja. behind Shaq levers turned to your favor. decides he doesn’t want to role player in Dennis Scott. though: Rather than in 1996. And (I can’t say it’d have been a 4–0 sweep in their favor because Hakeem. though: We can change what happened. During get a little bit grayer. 1995 Hakeem Olajuwon is still going staying in Orlando. we can change it here anyway. Tracy McGrady’s 2000s. And the Bulls swept the branch of reality that doesn’t include the 2002 Kings. (2) We don’t get the 2002 Sacramento Kings (Webber. Shaq falls in love with the way being a champi- series 85 percent of the time. So let’s assume the championship to the Magic. and a not-yet-to. then the whole NBA as we know it today gets turned upside down.

with Dwight Howard) beat the Nuggets 4–3 in 2009 (people start to talk about how Dwight vs.) The decides he’s only doing the movie if the studio lets him do so in Spurs beat the Sixers 4–3 to win the 2001 championship. American His- The Magic beat the Trail Blazers 4–2 to win the 2000 champion. we’d have all anything would’ve been possible without the Lakers trading him ended up seeing Patrick Ewing’s dick? That’s what you’re to the Hornets for Kobe. Ricky Pierce. Eric Leckner. Were there Where are we right now in this Nick-Anderson-Makes-A-Free- any ripple effects from that? Throw version of the universe? To this point: The Magic win the With Hakeem at the lead. and George Zidek. The Nets really wanted to draft him with the eighth pick that year. regarded now as basura. (They cap as a reformed Nazi). You’re telling me that if Nick Anderson petty postgame interview where he talks about how none of had made one of those four free throws. and 2002 Devil’s Advocate starring Al Pacino are definitely all up for grabs since and Shawn Bradley (a total box- the Shaq/Kobe Lakers aren’t around office bomb because Bradley decides to win them. and Rush Hour starring Shawn Kemp off an amazing Game 7 fourth-quarter comeback when Penny and Dennis Rodman (shamed by everyone because Rodman throws an alley-oop to Shaq to put the game out of reach. What happened with Hakeem’s acting career. Tony Smith. Boogie Nights becomes Carmelo. Their roster that season: Rafael Addison. Scott Burrell. 11. and the 2008. The Magic (this time That’s exactly what I’m telling you. and halfway into the movie that Pacino 2010 championships are possibly also actually really is the devil and so he up for grabs since the Celtics don’t refuses to film any of the remaining have Garnett to help them win in 2008 scenes with him so half of the movie and Kobe doesn’t have Pau to help him is CGI’d). which it does). And the Cavs (!) beat the Lakers I suppose that depends entirely on whether or not you are pro– (!!) 4–3 (!!!) in 2010 (the highest-rated Finals in history).12 Kobe possibly wins two titles instead of five but probably We get Titanic starring Kate Winslet and Jason “White Choc. Armageddon Who gets those? starring Reggie Miller. Anthony Mason. Carmelo makes a Finals. except this time it’s Williams zero titles for them and so then Kobe choking Latrell and so everyone gets becomes Carmelo before Carmelo a big kick out of that). Good Will Hunting starring Robin sun. 2009. Will you catch if you put a sun right next to another it?”). Muggsy Bogues. Malik Rose. That’s good for two champion. titles instead of six and his legacy isn’t as guaranteed as it is ly any NBA player they can get into any movie that’ll let them. though.) The Pistons beat the Pelicans 4–2 in telling me? 2008 (the lowest-rated Finals in history). we get LeBron vs. Kazaam. Face/Off starring Keith Van win in 2009 and 2010. Iverson steps over Avery Johnson. Hakeem Olajuwon does Kazaam. 12.of Kobe and KG together. Or the Nets. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? ry because people are stupid). It sets into which vibrates out into Hollywood massively. which LeBron wins. Tony Delk. 10. Kazaam win three titles together. just as still the scene where Robin Williams’s likely is that the Kobe/KG partnership character chokes Matt Damon’s char- turns toxic real quick and ends with acter. 70 SL AMONLINE. though? It That’s fair. Donald Royal. The five names italicized there are big white guys. They were warned against it since he wanted to get to Los Angeles once he heard Jerry West wanted to trade Vlade for the pick to get him. 1995 championship. maybe three. and everyone sees Patrick Ewing’s dick. Thinking about Jordan with only five championships is somehow the weirdest part of this whole thing. Jack gives an Oscar-worthy speech to Rose where never goes to Miami.) The Kings beat the Nets 4–0 to win the 2002 championship. Glen Rice. used for Burt Reynolds’s part). Jamie Feick. actually wins zero.COM . Everyone loves it. S 9. Chris olate” Williams (the scene where Jack and Rose go to a party Webber gets a ring (hooray!) but so does Dwight Howard in the bowels of the ship and dance gets replaced with a scene (boooooooo!). Five big white guys is way too many big white guys to have on a team hoping to win a title in the mid-to-late ’90s and beyond. Horn and Kerry Kittles (shoutout the Jason Kidd–era Nets). which is like with my heart. giving Shaq and Penny their third title together. starring Patrick Ewing (Pat Riley gets And all of that means the cham. All he delivers the iconic line “I’m throwing you a no-look pass if Nick Anderson makes one of those free throws. So what’s the tally? seems like you didn’t talk enough about that. which means he of the ship. 2001. (Vlade Divac gives an all-world Holdonasecond. Williams and Latrell Sprewell (there’s ships. Of course. The pionships for 2000. Jordan wins five motion a two-year period where movie studios plug in basical. Rose. Shaq stays in Orlando and he and Penny is an international smash success. (Allen yellowface. Patrick Ewing’s dick or anti–Patrick Ewing’s dick. Carmelo is the next big rival. now. Duncan wins six titles instead of five. Tom Chambers. Dell Curry. Vlade says it was Jerry West who talked him into going to Charlotte rather than retiring. Matt Geiger. Kobe where Jack and Rose go to a 2-on-2 tournament in the bowels in an NBA Finals Game 7. The Lakers don’t trade Vlade if Shaq never leaves Orlando. 2: This Time Call Me Hazaam is an even bigger hit. Anthony Goldwire. tory X starring Steve Kerr (Kerr gives a rousing performance ship.


COM . $185 UNDER ARMOUR CURRY 4 October 27. $130 72 SL AMONLINE. KICKS JORDAN XXXII October 18.

$185 AND1 BOOM Out now. $115 NIKE LEBRON 15 October 28. $90 SL AMONLINE. ADIDAS DAME 4 Out now.COM 73 .

super sleek for his design team. After figuring out the Speed Plate.” —Max Resetar 74 S L A M O N L I N E . but the in the Finals. But the surprise worked.” Cushioning system. Images moment. It stretches for comfort and it Neither Stephen nor UA had announced latest silhouette. that the new sneaker would be unveiled piece Speed Plate that addresses mid-foot “Ultimately.” Curry 4 designer Kort Neumann re. [the 4] is an expression of for the Finals. C O M . just him “I was excited and nervous at the same Neumann created a new lightweight pro. starting with the one. forefoot.KICKS 4:44 The UNDER ARMOUR CURRY 4 is the Warriors’ superstar’s hottest look yet. feel like a second foot. F R O M L E F T: C O U R T E S Y O F U N D E R A R M O U R . Everything is brand new for Curry’s done before. where the aesthetic comes from. Twitter and Instagram machine Neumann’s sneaker was ready for the It all leads up to the 4’s knitted upper. C O U R T E S Y O F C O N V E R S E G A M E 1 O F T H E 2017 Finals members. People couldn’t believe how nice the white tioning from the medial arch to the lateral “That really came from Stephen. is stronger and silkier than anything UA’s from everywhere.” Neumann says. retains rigidity under stress. wanting that holistic fit. “He was gonna first wear them a pivot from UA’s tried and true Charged hadn’t even tipped off. making the shoe time. featuring hits of synthetic for of the super clean. That’s pretty big. prietary foam technology for the midsole. our study in minimalism. stiffness and lateral containment by transi. was already roaring. R YA N Y O U N G . That’s and gold 4s were. is made with a yarn that Under Armour Curry 4 were flooding in and composition. The 4s marked a turning point That upper. in both construction reinforcement.

The red heel. To honor the deep bond between the old part- ners. Soon after the video hit the web. LaVar.” The video also shows him driving a brand new Lamborghini. and the two understand their iconic status in both basketball and sneakers. swingman jerseys. Ranging in prices from $100 to $250. “Once a Knick. The Bulls Ankle Bully sneaker pays homage to Chicago fans who brave Windy City winters with an interior lining. NBA players like Kevin Durant. a nice cushioning. For the Celtics version. Five of the most storied franchises get a “Legend” makeup. All of the MB1s. Big Baller Brand managed to and silver accents to honor the lights of Hollywood. C O N V E R S E ’ S R E L AT I O N S H I P with the NBA goes back to the beginning. which Melo’s dad. The finishing touch is the NBA came the first HS prospect in history to have his own signature silhouette. gifted him for his 16th birthday. was getting his own signa. trio is the “Franchise. the A F T E R S H O C K I N G T H E world by revealing that Lonzo Ball collaboration features other key team details like a would be the first player ever to enter the League with an inde. The low-cut MB1 features a two-tone woven textile with a camou- flaged one-piece knit upper. Dubbed the “Gameday. Jayson Tatum and Kyle Kuzma took to social media to give Melo props for the historic announcement.COM 75 . the 6-3 guard turned into a “Legend” colorway. made up of three styles.  In the reveal video. Always a Knicks” design. the youngest to ever do it cleverly exhibits his new kicks in a basket full of cherries—a jab at critics who have steadily hated on his notoriety and playing style by calling him a “cherry picker. be. —MR household name last season thanks to his half-court jumpers and jaw-dropping scoring outbursts—including the memorable 92-point per- formance that brought Melo from internet sensation to the mainstream. Converse is releasing the NBA Chuck Taylor All Star 70 collection. the youngest the premium leather treatment. The “Gameday” joints are made with authentic NBA BIG BALLER BRAND had everyone talking again jersey material. an embossed “17” in Roman numerals gives props to the franchise’s historic title count.” which is made out of ture sneaker—the MB1. and the youngest of the three Ball brothers. logo that sits proudly on the inner tongue of each Just a junior at Chino Hills (CA) HS. sneakers have EVA foam in the midsole to provide The 16-year-old prodigy.” the “Legend” and the “Franchise. The OGs on the Knicks and Lakers rocked the Star in 1946 during the Basketball Associ- ation of America’s inaugural season. Playing by their own rules with an array of unprecedent- ed moves.” the kicks pay tribute to fans and their teams alike. BBB continues to raise eyebrows while the industry monitors closely. which provides Melo with less weight and more freedom around his ankles. Rounding out the brother in the Ball family. Both the League and Converse have grown considerably in the 71 years since. LaMelo Ball’s signature kicks. chrome pendently made signature sneaker. black upper and tongue are all made of suede material. Since Day 1 CONVERSE has been down with the NBA for over 70 years and is honor- ing the relationship with a collection of styles highlighting the League’s marquee franchises. send even more shockwaves in late August when it unveiled the and Bay Bridge-inspired embroidery. while the “Legend” versions get when it announced that LaMelo Ball. in an exclusive SLAM video. The MB1 comes in priced at $395 and is slated to reach homes during the holiday season. The tongue has a distinctively thin layer. —Franklyn Calle SL AMONLINE.


“It was a games. the school before continuing his country’s first basket. “I know offensive game reminiscent passer.” Rowan 5-assist performance in a 99. up against players who were Wade when finishing at the know what the goal is. “We and Jordan Brand.” who still has incredible room the court. Class of 2018 recruit RJ BARRETT is ready to take the torch as The North’s next hoops star.” Rowan says. He’s currently attending RJ was able to do that. “Did you die hard? If 87 upset win over Team USA in ball.” RJ says. RJ has an his jump shot. From that day on. “What explains. Montverde Academy (FL) and what really separates him. The Barrett household has recently announced his decision This year. A MONTH AFTER a track and field star at St. He’s there reasons. Rowan Sr to victory at the FIBA played basketball at the same U19 World Cup. Roy Rana. Today. from ballhandling.COM 77 . “We’re just looking at ev- says “Canadian Built. RJ is projected as we haven’t had is someone I scored three times in a row.” the thing with him—to die hard. Barrett—short for Rowan Jr—is Australia.” S WORDS ALEX WONG PORTR AITS CHARLIE LINDSAY SL AMONLINE. That’s and go harder? It was always underdog. “I didn’t play formance up close. Rowan had his own Toronto-St. which was highlighted reality check. I needed to work a lot “The way he puts together his son that he’s preached month’s gold medal showing in harder.” Rowan Wearing a black tee that three to four years older than rim. game after which RJ went saw RJ’s coming-of-age per. “It’s such a long On the court. Rowan has a lesson for spotlight on him since last well. to being a better to take in the last night of OVO road. 17-year-old RJ Summer Olympics in Sydney. RJ’s mom. ery single day [RJ’s improve- is relaxing in his courtside seat.” He’s aware of the increased home and cried. it’s unique for a guy forever: to always die hard on Egypt. and did you double up your effort Canada entered as a 20-point Draft. the court. career overseas. was year earlier than expected.The Way Life Goes Having just led Canada to its first gold medal in international competition. he decided for growth. and repre- ball gold medal in international sented Canada at the 2000 competition. 13-rebound. “That was always by his 38-point. to strengthening his Bounce. Rowan wants his That was something that stuck always been a competitive to reclassify to get to college a son to continue improving on with him. ment] needs to happen. I think he dies hard one.” of James Harden when on body so that he can be a force tourney organized by Drake As a 12-year-old. a week-long pro-am how long a road it is. Kesha. too. July press conference.” Barrett him. There was one particular Team Canada’s U19 squad. to on the court. George. to dedicate his focus to basket. head coach of says. with family and friends on a Rowan didn’t necessarily Friday night at Goldring Centre want to push his son toward for High Performance Sport on basketball. leading Team Canada John’s University. It had to be his own the campus of the University of choice. the semifinals—a game Team a top-3 pick in the 2019 NBA take us to the finish line. RJ went the perimeter and of Dwyane on the defensive end.” Rana said at a the term for him.

” Liddell says of ward ranked among the top UT. a 6-7 for. One Class of 2018 recruit. where else. I hope franchises in NBA history. on and off the court. the only question about his game has been whether he can— and will—bring his best every time out. Oregon and SMU. “The coaching staff and though. 220. it’s all about showing Bruce Pearl and his staff CIBOLO (TX) BYRON P. UCLA. Cibolo—a small town about I feel like they will bring the 20 miles northeast of down. “I guess other coaches were wondering if I was going to be consistent. is hoping to change team really made it feel like that. Pioneer All-American. “I guess it kind of gonna be great to be able to gets overlooked by everyone see all my friends and family because Houston and Dallas in the stands. not only on the court but homegrown basketball talent. he hears the concerns about con- sistency. my emergence as a national San Antonio has never really prospect helps motivate kids been given much recognition [in SA] to be the best they can when it comes to churning out be. best out of me and help me town San Antonio. “But Auburn stayed on me consistently. GERALD LIDDELL After that. state champ. STEELE II that their consistent recruiting efforts were worth the trouble— 6-7.” Liddell says of away from my house.” —Franklyn Calle . Here’s where the irony comes in. Arizona. the do-it-all stretch 4 might just check off every goal on his senior year to-do list: state POY. The “We have some really good school is about 45-50 minutes talent here. in the classroom and every- While Lone Star State metrop. PF T H E R E I S A B I T O F I R O N Y in EJ Montgomery’s college choice. reach my ultimate goals. —Ryan Jones DESPITE BEING HOME have been thought to be more to one of the most successful of basketball cities.  nia. If he stays at it. Yes. hails have for their players is un- from Byron P. Liddell ultimately chose hoop prospects. home there. For scouts. Gerald Liddell. Califor- an afterthought in that regard. Montgomery is one of the most skilled big men in the 2018 class. A versatile lefty who goes 6-10. F and making the rest of the SEC wish they’d tried harder to sign him instead. L ID D E L L : J O N L O P E Z San Antonio has always been over Baylor. who are expecting big things from a guy who models his game after Anthony Davis—and just might have the size and talent to justify the comparisons. “The love and care they 50 seniors in America. War Eagle EJ MONTGOMERY MARIETTA (GA) WHEELER 6-10.” olises like Dallas and Houston After cutting his college are constantly heralded for list down to seven schools in producing some impressive May. the city of the Texas Longhorns in August M O N T G O M E RY: T O D D B U R A N D T/A D I DA S . Steele II HS in matched.” Montgomery says. it’s one of the areas he’s focused on improving. along with getting stronger and fine-tuning his already pretty solid J. [so] it’s the area.” The Wheeler High standout committed last fall to the Tigers.

her team is project. When Standing almost a head years playing ball in New you’re presenting the idea. they said he did nothing other competing on even bigger stages soon through high school.” of the whole high school and present a on Instagram is staggering.. FL. Single copy price is $7. (See DMM 707. P. With input from his family. because I missed the first two months Sparks game in September.00 per year. Then I went to Las S M A R T: J O N L O P E Z . that’s unique because I’ve to come back toward the end of summer eventually sharing the court with Parker never played with people from so many and play in front of my hometown in the in the WNBA. To me. Palm Coast. Smart said LSU B a s ke t b a l l JAVONTE SMART BATON ROUGE (LA) was the best decision for him.” she says. just been a lot of conditioning. Hailing from Paraguay. Canadian orders add $6. and working on individual skills. just because we get to debate a lot in the class. FL 32142-0235. Aquino away from home. NY NY 10016. Wow. photos.4 assists. It’s where he can continue living out his life motto: “Do Diary SCOTLANDVILLE MAGNET what you love.S. and other materials submitted must be accompanied by a stamped. age 16. enough.. Canada. 6. My favorite one right now would ANDREA AQUINO have to be English. NY. address changes and adjustments. at Louisiana State University. Vol. Fast-forward to present day. it felt like it was than run up and down the court. self-addressed envelope. SLAM is a registered trademark of SLAM Media Inc. No.4.O. Academy in Los Angeles. “I wouldn’t make any baskets. and love what you do. etc. and additional mailing offices.” Aquino says. Every year in the class you have to get up in front T H E P I C T U R E posted I was always the tall one. W IL L I A M S O N : Z AC H W O L F E started seriously playing basketball at And while she’s thousands of miles Vegas with my teammates and finished with a 5-1 record. Printed in U. Creative Writing. funds only.S.99. I want self-esteem because it was so hard for In Paraguay. write to SLAM.” says the now high school senior. C project in Financial Literacy. For sub- scription. and Smart does the exact opposite of “nothing” on the hardwood. you have to convince them that they should invest taller than L. Peep his junior year stat line from last season: 25. Smart focused on Knowledge developing his game and is now one of the top players in the Class of 2018. this is really my senior year! I got one last go at a state championship. Shark Tank. LOS ANGELES (CA) RIBET ACADEMY I’m looking forward to working on a 6-9. APO. It’s kind of like the show forward Candace Parker is this season. AP Geography. Sparks Jersey before joining Ribet money into it. Not bad for a player who different countries. A senior at Ribet eight countries. “Since I was 5.A. ZION WILLIAMSON 6-4. the weather is almost the my senior year to be unforgettable! me to be tall.” she says. “There’s a lot of stuff to do over here ning on the track—sprints. Box 420235.00 per year (for surface mail postage). Subscriptions: Subscription rates for one year (6 issues) U. “It’s a lot like home.7 rebounds. Italy. like run- introduced to the game. P. SL AMONLINE. “We have people ever playing AAU basketball. 8. AP English and French. Aquino spent a couple business idea to a group of adults. Reproduction without permission is prohibited.” —Ryne Nelson SLAM (ISSN:1072-625X) November/December 2017. Payment in advance. Copyright @ 2017 by SLAM Media Inc. “You get to know people with different due to a knee injury but I was just glad The Oregon State commit has hopes of cultures.— “Basketball helped me build up in Cali. Possessions is $12.00. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life meet the future Hall of Famer before a from Spain. running back and forth on the basketball tary-aged Javonte Smart’s basketball court. Manuscripts. all other countries add $12. miles. 24. we have no doubt we’ll see him I t’s crazy that while I was going games. Despite the struggle and heartache of losing his father at an early age. Periodicals postage is paid at New York.12.1 points.1 steals and 1. Postmaster: Send all UAA to CFS. G tinues the way it has since he was that kid W H E N P E O P L E C A M E to elemen. Palm Coast. Some of the classes I’m taking this Westside Connection year are Financial Literacy.A.” If Javonte Smart’s development con. SLAM assumes no responsibility for unsolicited material. NON-POSTAL AND MILITARY FACILITIES: send address corrections to SLAM.1 blocks per game.S.COM 79 .” adidas Gaunlet Finale.S. 2. it’s struggled with her height before being feel comfortable in her new city. 9 is published every two months by SLAM Media Inc. U. 261 Madison Avenue. —Habeeba Husain going slow. All rights reserved. 32142-0235. That’s quite an epic transformation for the Baton Rouge native. Box 420235. And now I’m sitting back and realizing. same. FPO and U. 6th floor.O. He does everything. testament to basketball’s This past summer was my last time Aquino had a chance to global reach. Aquino is starting to Preparing for my senior season.5). Darts He’ll find himself not far from home this time next year. I think I’m probably going 6-9 high schooler Andrea Comprised of players from to do my own signature shoe for the Aquino.



more comfort. . more control. Introducing the new Curry 4.More traction. designed for the ultimate gamebreaker.