For 3 many years we’ve coated many superb basketball characters, however some stand above the remainder—not solely due to their on-court abilities (although these are all the time related), however due to how they influenced and proceed to affect basketball tradition, and thus influenced SLAM. In the meantime, SLAM has additionally modified these gamers’ lives in varied methods, as we’ve documented their careers with basic covers, legendary images, superb tales, compelling movies and extra.
We compiled a bunch of people (programming be aware: 30 entries, not 30 individuals complete) who imply one thing particular to SLAM and to our viewers. Learn the full list here and order your copy of SLAM 248, the place this checklist was initially printed, here.
An argument might be made that 2019 was an vital peak in highschool basketball. Hear us out for a bit. Whereas 2017 and 2018 noticed LaMelo Ball and Zion Williamson deliver new ranges of eyeballs into the highschool hoops area, it led to newfound momentum and curiosity in 2019. And though this new group of children might haven’t garnered the identical sort of consideration that LaMelo and Zion did individually, as a complete—collectively—they had been rock stars, too. Extra particularly: Jalen Inexperienced, Josh Christopher and Sharife Cooper.
They checked all of the bins on and off the courtroom—every one had the proper combo of abilities and aptitude that drew giant crowds in individual and made for some very enjoyable spotlight mixes on-line. After which, off the courtroom, in addition they occurred to be the cool youngsters of their class: swaggy and fashion-forward, they knew the best way to make the most of social media (and construct an viewers) impeccably and had been top-tier execs when it got here to on-camera interviews.
Jalen, out of Fresno, CA, was a top-three prospect within the class. His pace, explosiveness and hangtime made him an computerized fan favourite. Then you definitely had Josh, additionally from Cali, however residing in Los Angeles. His household was no stranger to the game, along with his brother Patrick having logged some minutes within the NBA with the Utah Jazz, in addition to in Summer season League, the G League (D-League on the time) and abroad.
After which there was Sharife. Whereas Jalen and Josh had been taking pictures guards, Sharife was a pure level guard. And though he was smaller in stature, his confidence and swagger had been on the exact same stage as theirs, or anybody else’s, for that matter. He hooped out of Atlanta and shared the courtroom at McEachern HS with now-Cavs ahead Isaac Okoro. Like Josh, he additionally got here from a household of athletes; his sister, Te’a, hooped collegiately earlier than becoming a member of the L.A. Sparks within the WNBA.
All roads led to a mid-August weekend in NYC, when all three arrived within the Large Apple to partake within the SLAM Summer season Traditional Vol. 2—the place the shoot for the long-lasting trio’s cowl got here to life. It’s a kind of issues the place you look again and see that every one facets of the aesthetics had been spot on: the seamless backdrop shade, their uniform colorways, their poses, their sneakers, their facial expressions. Essentially the most spectacular half is that it took little artwork route from our finish to get them to execute the duvet shot or another flicks. We simply put them in entrance of the digital camera and allow them to do their factor.
That’s what makes this trio so distinctive: it was all easy. They understood media—each social media and conventional media. They understood branding. Regardless of their younger ages, they’d a formidable understanding of the sport, on and off the courtroom. And the hoops group took discover. This half isn’t subjective. It’s quantifiable. If you happen to take a look at the view counts and engagement for video posts centered on this trio again in 2019, the numbers are as excessive as anybody we’ve ever coated.
Talking of protection, one more reason Jalen, Josh and Sharife maintain such a robust presence in SLAM’s coronary heart is that their rise got here at a time after we had been making a giant push in the highschool media area. Sure, SLAM had all the time coated HS hoops in some capability—verify our digital archive for LeBron’s HS shoots, our print HS Diary column, our beloved PUNKS part, and early in-depth protection of the Ball brothers and Zion Williamson, amongst many others. However there hadn’t been a devoted HS staff internally centered on the area till then. By 2019, we had shooters attending HS video games throughout the nation on a nightly foundation and devoted social pages throughout Twitter, Instagram and YouTube that solely served HS hoops, and nobody within the trade was churning out “Day within the Life” episodes with the highest recruits within the nation as constantly as we had been. So, whereas we actually helped increase the profiles of the trio on the time with our protection, in addition they helped increase our profile within the HS area by permitting us in and trusting us to inform their tales.
And if we wanted one more reason to have Jalen, Josh and Sharife up in our rafters, they had been additionally members of the inaugural SLAM Summer season Traditional Vol. 1 in 2018, and all three returned the next yr for Vol. 2—a sport and postgame celebration that our viewers nonetheless talks about to at the present time. You don’t imagine us after we say they had been rock stars? Simply try the video on-line of children working via the streets of New York Metropolis following the gamers’ bus after the sport. For a lot of blocks.
As we speak, all three are nonetheless pushing onerous on their NBA goals—Jalen is taking part in a significant function with the Houston Rockets (the place he coincidently hooped with Josh for 2 seasons), whereas Josh and Sharife are nonetheless solidifying their locations within the L.
One factor is for sure, although: All three are legends in SLAM’s historical past.
All portraits by Jon Lopez.