SLAM was launched in 1994 as a basketball magazine that combined the sport with hip hop culture at a time when the genre was becoming increasingly popular. It was founded by publisher Dennis Page at Harris Publications, and he hired Cory Johnson to be the first Editor in Chief. Its first issue had a cover story on Larry Johnson of the Charlotte Hornets (written by future Fortune magazine editor Andrew Serwer) and a feature on University of California freshman Jason Kidd. Many of the magazine's lasting features, such as In Your Face, Slam-a-da-month, and Last Shot all began with that first issue. The magazine carries advertising for basketball related products, street-wear clothing and hip hop music, and has been credited with helping to market hip hop culture and basketball as one.
SLAM has published 124 issues in its history, and has featured the biggest names in American basketball on its cover, in articles, and on its famous SLAMups posters. To date, only one female athlete has ever appeared on the SLAM cover - Chamique Holdsclaw in October 1998. Allen Iverson has appeared on the cover a record eleven times, his latest appearance being issue 115 which he shared with Carmelo Anthony.
Writers and editors
Editors for SLAM Magazine have included:
- Cory Johnson (founding editor-in-chief)
- Russ Bengtson
- Anna Gebbie
- Tony Gervino
- Scoop Jackson (left slam)
- Ben Osborne
- "Old" Dave Lewis
- Dennis Page (publisher)
- Susan Price
- Khalid Saalam
- Lang Whitaker
- Ryan Jones
- Sam Rubenstein (Online Editor)
Other notable SLAM writers have been:
- Bonz Malone
- Andy Serwer
- Kevin Powell
- Dan "Young Dave" Amrich
- Vinny Mallozzi
- Russell Shoemaker
- Jon Azpiri
- Michael Bradley (senior writer)
- Jeff Cruz
- Michael Lewis
- Paul Feinberg
- Joe Lombardi
- Arash Markazi
- Anthony McCarron
- Alan Paul (senior writer)
- Tonya Pendleton
- Bonsu Thompson (senior writer)
- Michael Weinbreb
- Nima Zarrabi (senior writer)
- Davy Rothbart
- "SLAMADAMONTH" — a short article describing a slam dunk accompanied by a photograph of the play. This feature usually features a dunk performed by an NBA player, but has featured college players in the past. The first SLAMADAMONTH (Spring 1994 issue) featured Chris Webber dunking on Charles Barkley.
- "NOYZ" — a series of one-line jokes commenting on recent basketball events, written anonymously. The first NOYZ column appeared in the March 1995 issue.
- "In Your Face" — shortidoit.
- "Last Shot" — a former back-page column documenting a game-winning shot during a game. This feature was discontinued after the January 2000 issue.
- "SLAM Magazine's top 75 NBA players of all time" — released in 2003.
- "What's My Name?- SLAM fans make nicknames for NBA players and if they win they get a prize from the slam vault.
- "The SLAM high school diary" — In 1994, SLAM began a tradition of choosing a highly talented high school basketball player to keep a monthly diary recording their accomplishments as they moved toward playing college or professional basketball. Since the diary began, 6 of its 11 keepers have played in the NBA. Only LeBron James and Sebastian Telfair were not in their final ("senior") year of high school when they wrote the diary. The following players have been keepers of the SLAM diary: (current career status in brackets)
- 1995 - Stephon Marbury (NBA All-Star)
- 1996 - Ronnie Fields (CBA player)
- 1997 - Edmund Saunders (won an NCAA Championship with UConn in 1999)
- 1998 - Ray Young (CBA player)
- 1999 - Mike Dunleavy, Jr. (NBA player)
- 2000 - Andre Barrett (NBA player)
- 2001 - Eddy Curry (NBA player)
- 2002 - LeBron James (NBA All-Star)
- 2003 - Sebastian Telfair (NBA player)
- 2004 - Marvin Williams (NBA player; won an NCAA Championship with UNC in 2005)
- 2005 - Eric Devendorf (Syracuse Orange player)
- 2006 - Thaddeus Young (NBA Player)
- 2007 - Kevin Love (NBA Player)
- 2008 - Tyreke Evans
- Trash Talk — Readers' letters to the editor are posted here, with occasional comments by the editor.
- Rookie Diary - The Rookie Diary is held by a new NBA rookie yearly, as they speak about their first experiences in the league: (rookie season team in brackets)
- 2002 - Drew Gooden (Memphis Grizzlies / Orlando Magic)
- 2003 - Carmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets)
- 2004 - Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers)
- 2005 - Ike Diogu (Golden State Warriors)
- 2006 - Kyle Lowry (Memphis Grizzlies)
- 2007 - Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls)
- 2008 - Eric Gordon (Los Angeles Clippers)