Sunday, April 14, 2024

THE 30 PLAYERS WHO DEFINED SLAM’S 30 YEARS: Brandon Jennings


For 3 a long time 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 basic covers, legendary pictures, superb tales, compelling movies and extra. 

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


Most gamers within the “SLAM 30” would, truthfully, be in most basketball shops’ rankings of probably the most related 30 gamers of the final three a long time. Brandon Jennings, nevertheless, is a particular case. Because of a really symbiotic relationship made attainable by Brandon’s love of SLAM, the individuals he surrounded himself with and our admitted bias to gamers who fuck with us as arduous as we fuck with them, BJ is like “our” All-Star.

The connection began recurrently sufficient—not that it didn’t imply the world to a younger Brandon. He acquired what we used to name a “little Punk” story in our highschool part, shot in his Compton (CA) Dominguez uniform and interviewed by Ryan Jones. Only a sophomore on the time, Jennings remembers it fondly. “That was my first look in SLAM,” he says on a current Zoom. “Within the Dominguez locker room. I used to be so fucking excited! Like, Everyone is gonna see me. I’m identified now. The SLAM factor was at all times the largest factor in sports activities and basketball magazines. Whenever you did the quilt shoot with Sebastian [Telfair] and LeBron James and I used to be a child within the seventh grade…I needed to be like them. SLAM was at all times that stamp of approval.” 

Jennings’ path acquired extra distinctive from there—as a participant and a SLAM topic—as he transferred to Oak Hill Academy in VA for his final two years of highschool. Not a surprising transfer, however to journey all the best way from L.A. and go for 2 years was somewhat courageous. BJ made a pair appearances in SLAM/associated pubs whereas he was a Warrior. In August ’07, whereas in NYC for the second annual Elite 24 sport (by which, he proudly jogs my memory, he set a report that was by no means damaged for assists within the sport with 23), he posed for the quilt of our particular PUNKS journal alongside fellow prime guards Jrue Vacation, Tyreke Evans and Lance Stephenson. Half a yr later, again within the Massive Apple for the Jordan Model Traditional, we shot Jennings at Grand Central Terminal for our Excessive College All-American First Workforce. He’s acquired fond reminiscences of each shoots however does share the one gripe he has with us in our lengthy historical past. “I’m not gonna entrance—I used to be mad I didn’t get the diary that yr,” Jennings says of the storied column that was penned by Evans that season.

Jennings’ path took two massively surprising turns after highschool. For one, the College of Arizona commit selected to not wait out any debates surrounding his educational eligibility and turned professional—in Italy! For an additional, he did so in Below Armours, changing into the primary signing the well-known “soccer” model ever made in hoops. UA’s foray into basketball was largely led by Kris Stone, a former SLAM Promoting Supervisor who had a aptitude for advertising, a perception in Brandon and a loyalty to the Basketball Bible. We turned, in some ways, the right place for UA to hype its transfer—with Jennings on the forefront. And since we’re at all times suckers for good entry to a dope baller with character—we had been down. After a pair extra small appearances in our pages, Jennings’ subsequent SLAM hit was large time: the European adventurer was on the quilt of SLAM 128 subsequent to a extra typical Continental prospect—Spanish wunderkind Ricky Rubio. 

Future Shock, certainly.

“That was so unreal for me,” Jennings remembers right this moment. “The choice I’d made. Ricky being who he was. I used to be a little bit nervous. The primary time I met him was at that shoot, the night time earlier than we performed towards one another in Barcelona. I met his mother, too, relaxation in peace. Ricky and I simply shared a little bit chit-chat that day. We knew we had been about to do some large shit.”

Jennings’ time within the L got here before Rubio’s. A short while after that cowl, he was within the 2009 Draft, going tenth total to the Milwaukee Bucks. And shortly after that, in simply his seventh NBA sport, Jennings dropped 55 factors. On the Golden State Warriors and their rookie PG, Stephen Curry. What had been we imagined to do? Put him on his first solo cowl, after all. Behold SLAM 135, an Adam Fleischer-Atiba Jefferson manufacturing that featured Jennings bursting off the entrance web page in a fireplace purple Bucks uni. “That meant that I made it,” Jennings says. “I used to be that child working to the shop to get that journal. Now I’m on the quilt. That was a full-circle second.”

Jennings performed all 82 as a rook and copped a solo KICKS cowl the following summer season. He’d go on to play 555 video games within the League, bouncing from Milwaukee to some completely different spots earlier than ending his profession as a Buck in ’18. It was an applicable ending, as a result of it related Jennings to the Giannis Period in Milwaukee and vastly prolonged the lifespan of his #BucksInSix quote.

And though he stopped enjoying, Jennings has stayed contemporary and related. Most notably, he’s the founding father of streetwear model Tuff Crowd. And in one other full-circle second, the model just lately collabed with Below Armour and its present signature hooper, none apart from Curry. 

You’ll by no means guess the place you possibly can learn extra about it


Photograph by Atiba Jefferson. Featured picture by way of Getty Pictures.



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