Thursday, May 23, 2024

THE 30 PLAYERS WHO DEFINED SLAM’S 30 YEARS: Jayson Tatum


For 3 many years we’ve lined many superb basketball characters, however some stand above the remainder—not solely due to their on-court abilities (although these are at all times 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 numerous methods, as we’ve documented their careers with traditional covers, legendary photographs, superb tales, compelling movies and extra. 

We compiled a bunch of people (programming notice: 30 entries, not 30 folks whole) who imply one thing particular to SLAM and to our viewers. Learn the full listing right here and order your copy of SLAM 248, the place this listing was initially printed, right here.


On June 12, 2015, we discovered ourselves strolling the streets of downtown St. Louis with 17-year-old Jayson Tatum. On the time, although he was a five-star recruit who would quickly decide to Duke, we had been capable of freely roam the streets with out Jayson being bombarded by followers. Right this moment, we wouldn’t be capable to redo that shoot so seamlessly. However that day completely encapsulates the long-ranging relationship that SLAM has constructed with a lot of in the present day’s NBA superstars.

The shoot was longer than our common highschool shoot: Jayson was about to turn out to be our HS Diarist for the next educational yr, which means he’d have his personal column within the journal for the next 12 months, which meant we’d must seize loads of pictures in numerous outfits in order that we’d have sufficient choices for the entire coming points.

Jayson was accompanied by his whole household that day: his mom Brandy, his father Justin, his grandmother, his highschool girlfriend and different family members. We walked round taking photographs in numerous components of downtown St. Louis within the beaming summer season solar. Though he had a cool, calm and picked up demeanor, you would inform he already knew he was a star within the making. Going into the shoot, we requested him to deliver no matter streetwear outfits he thought finest mirrored his persona. He confirmed up with a customized St. Louis Cardinals jersey that had his title stitched on the again, which he rocked for a photograph in entrance of the long-lasting Gateway Arch. The second outfit he introduced? A full grey swimsuit, with a white gown shirt and a patterned pink/crimson/orange/white tie. He actually meant enterprise from Day 1.  

By his diary entries within the points that adopted, we received a glimpse of his aggressive facet. He wrote about wanting ahead to taking part in in opposition to his dad throughout the season (Tatum attended Chaminade and his dad was the top coach of their rival college, Christian Brothers), and saved monitor of their head-to-head document. We additionally realized the impression that his mom had on his life, and even a few of the college initiatives he loved engaged on essentially the most, together with any extracurricular actions. 

Towards the tip of his senior yr, Tatum was a part of our annual HS All-American group shoot, the place he posed alongside De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Harry Giles III and Josh Jackson in a convention room at a lodge in Midtown Manhattan. The SLAM All-American uniforms that yr had been sponsored by Jordan Model and the shoot itself occurred throughout Jordan Model Basic week in NYC. Right this moment, Tatum and Jordan have a really fruitful partnership. A full circle journey, certainly.

Within the aftermath of his highschool days, SLAM and Tatum have continued working collectively. In 2018, he appeared on his first solo SLAM cowl, carrying a band-aid on his face in a nod to fellow St. Louis legend Nelly (the title of his HS characteristic—the unfold the place he’s carrying the aforementioned customized Cardinals jersey—was “Journey Wit Me,” a reference to Nelly’s hit single). In late 2022, he posed for his second solo cowl. He’s additionally been part of a few group covers. In 2023, he appeared on his first KICKS cowl alongside fellow Jordan Model athletes Zion Williamson and Luka Doncic. 

Level being, 9 years later, Tatum and SLAM proceed to collaborate on some top-tier shoots. He has not solely performed a significant function in SLAM’s story and development over the previous decade—he’s additionally achieved the identical for the sport of basketball. Right this moment, he’s one of many NBA’s greatest stars. A deadly scorer with a easy move to his sport, he’s already been to 4 Convention Finals and received inside two video games of profitable an NBA title in 2022. Off the court docket, he’s emerged as one of the marketable figures within the sport—you may at all times discover him on TV, starring in commercials for Subway, Ruffles and Gatorade, amongst others. And, in fact, he has his personal signature sneaker with Jordan Model—one other TV spot so as to add to the listing. He’s additionally turn out to be a mannequin determine for fatherhood within the League—Jayson and his son, Deuce, are an elite duo within the hearts of all hoop followers and are often noticed collectively on the court docket and within the locker room after video games. (And, for apparent causes, we love when Deuce rocks his dad’s SLAM cowl tee, which has occurred a couple of occasions.)

Evidently, because the headline of his highschool story fittingly stated, we’ve been driving wit’ JT for nearly a decade, and we stay up for seeing all of the locations that lie forward. 


Portrait by Chris Razoyk. Picture through Getty Pictures.



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