The best SLAM covers ever

If you’re reading this website, you know SLAM magazine. In fact, it could be said that you’re reading this website because of SLAM and the way they made basketball cool in the mid-90s and early-2000s but let’s save that for a graduate dissertation regarding evolving media coverage in the 20th century. The point is, a bunch of us were fans of SLAM from a young age and it’s impossible to ignore the effect it’s had on an entire generation of basketball freaks.

That’s why it’s excellent news that the SLAM bros have updated their cover archive to make everything way easier to find. Now instead of trolling Google Images to find a scanned copy of Jason Williams rocking a moptop on the magazine, it’s right there. So great.

Here are my favorites from their 155 issues.

This is by far my favorite cover ever. Keith Van Horn’s tall socks, Kerry Kittles being noticed and the guarantee that the Nets will win a title by 2001 make this thing incredible. This image is a big part of why I always chose the Nets in NBA Live 2000. Favorite team in the league post-Jordan for a couple of years there.

You can’t have the first without the second. Which is stranger — that the Nets were considered a championship contender with those guys or that Todd MacCullough was on a national magazine cover?

This is the first ever issue and it’s just so perfectly 90s. The fonts, the Larry Johnson, the term “Krazy Mad Moves” being used to describe Jason Kidd — just great. Really good decision to update the fonts.

A classic. Stephon’s rocking the And 1 symbol he wore back in the day, which were some excellent shoes. I remember getting a pair of grey and white Starbury 2s with the side lace thing for my birthday during sophomore year of high school and wearing them for one game against the Newark Norsemen, which we probably lost. They eventually broke, which is a pretty fitting metaphor.

This was an OK draft class. And there’s Kerry Kittles again, somehow making his third appearance on this list.

This is the first SLAM cover I remember seeing in the wild. I was on vacation with my family and saw this on the shelf in some gas station. I couldn’t believe it was a real magazine, so I flipped through it and was amazed. That’s pretty much when I was hooked.

There have been a lot of Michael Jordan covers in SLAM’s history, but this one is the best for me. I love how it’s high contrast, shows off his fadeaway and how you can barely see his Jordan XIIIs. Pretty sure this issue is still in my mom’s basement.

Everyone loves this cover because it’s awesome.

I think I’ve still got this one at home too. Not sure why I thought this was so great, but I still really like it. Plus, Steph is wearing New Balance hiking shoes which is really funny to me for some reason.

This cover dropped right when the Kings were at their peak of entertainment value. Chris Webber has some serious Taco Neck Syndrome, but it’s still a great cover. Mad props to SLAM for still trying to make Keith Van Horn happen down there at the bottom.

Of all the players named on this cover from February of 2002, it’s kind of amazing that only Darius Miles is out of the league. Too bad these guys never panned out.

Funniest SLAM cover in history. There in no one less SLAM and less Lakers then Karl Malone, but there he is in a Lakers uniform on the cover.

Just like with that Kings cover from earlier, this dropped right when Gilbert Arenas was really getting some buzz. In a good way. That tattoo eventually became a FreeDarko shirt that the FreeDarko guys gave to Gilbert Arenas in person, which is a roundabout way of saying nice cover.

Last but not least, my favorite Kobe cover. Just a wonderful image with hardly anything else to clutter the cover. Not crazy about the font at the bottom but that’s pretty easy to ignore.

Go check out the archives and let’s see your favorites in the comments. It’s a great way to waste a half-hour.

Comments (19)

  1. “Master P: Gary Payton Makes Em Say Uhh.”

    Gary Payton AND a Master P reference? Game. Over.

  2. Sofa King Awesome.

  3. Slam 62 – LBJ and…. Sebastian Telfair?!?!?! “SebastianTelfair and LeBron James are about to rule the world. Imagine that.”

    Slam 95 – Sebastian Telfair, solo! What the eff?!?! SEBASTIAN TELFAIR!

    Those are definitely not favourites, I just can’t get over how big of a deal Bassy was back then.

    Slam 39 has to be my favourite though, just cause Shareef Aabdur-Rahim got national-level love for the first, and possibly last, time ever.

  4. How many did Atiba shoot? He’s the best photog of the 90s-00s, no?

  5. Issue #24: Normally when my brother makes that face, I call it the “U Gon Git Raped” face, but considering the player on the cover, that would seem highly inappropriate.

    Issue #47: I also very much enjoyed that the editors seemed to have no idea what to do with Tim Duncan here. Classic.

    Issue #99: “Greg Oden, The Next Big Thing.” [Insert penis joke.]

    You were correct, Trey. Excellent use of twenty minutes.

  6. Boy, people really tilt their head to their right a lot in these. It’s like the photographer held up a stuffed animal, got their attention, and slowly turned it clockwise.

  7. the strange thing to me is that the Nets were in the Finals in 2001 – they were pretty damn close to being right.

  8. EPIPHANY!!!

    Todd MacCullough = Tom Kiesche aka Clovis, the trailer park owner from Breaking Bad.

    Why would he change his name?

  9. oh my god the rafer alston one!!! that was one of my first slams too. and even though i’m from germany i can still remember the 90ies ones we had them too, just a month late hehehehe nice. nostalgia rules :D

    • …hang on, 97-98? that wasn’t one of my first slam magazines! what am i talking about?! i’m older than that… hm whatever. still love it and remember it extremely well. also love the shawn kemp one

  10. Why would they photoshop/blank out Jason Williams’ jersey number on that CWebb cover? Weird.

  11. And three Clippers wearing their jerseys backwards reminds me of these clowns:

  12. NETS as the Best Team in the World? What?

  13. im not a kobe fan… but the cover when he won the 3 trophys and the called him black mamba. sick!

  14. gotta catch ‘em all

  15. @Matt, notice how the word “team” is capitalized, i think they meant they play the best as a team. This is when Kidd was at the top of his game and making everyone better around him

  16. SLAM 96, that says AI is the best player from the 1996 draft. I think Kobe and his 5 championships may say otherwise. SLAM was all on AI’s dick pretty much his whole career.


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