Sunday, April 14, 2024

THE 30 PLAYERS WHO DEFINED SLAM’S 30 YEARS: Chamique Holdsclaw


For 3 a long time we’ve coated many wonderful basketball characters, however some stand above the remaining—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 numerous methods, as we’ve documented their careers with basic covers, legendary photographs, wonderful tales, compelling movies and extra. 

We compiled a bunch of people (programming be aware: 30 entries, not 30 folks complete) 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 revealed, right here.


Twenty-five years in the past, we at SLAM didn’t actually comprehend the importance of placing Chamique Holdsclaw on the quilt of SLAM 29 sporting an genuine Knicks recreation uniform. To say in any other case can be unfaithful. Nevertheless, the significance of her embodying the early SLAM manifesto, by way of us publishing a basketball journal from a grassy knoll, taking pot photographs at standard knowledge, is almost unparalleled.

Holdsclaw was an distinctive faculty ballplayer and a fitness center rat from Queens, NY, and, once we weren’t debating such weighty matters resembling ugliest participant or douchiest head coach, we, as media provocateurs (which is French for jabronis), questioned aloud whether or not the NBA was prepared for her, relatively than the opposite approach round.

We weren’t simply questioning whether or not Holdsclaw might maintain her personal, however whether or not the NBA (and society at giant, for that matter) might settle for a feminine participant within the League. Interval. And so the quilt line, “Is the NBA Prepared for Chamique Holdsclaw?” was each a literal and an existential query. And, for essentially the most half, it was additionally rhetorical: we already knew the reply and it was “Not but.” (It will be one other 20 years earlier than a second feminine participant, Maya Moore, would personal SLAM’s cowl, which was nonetheless forward of its time.)

Regardless of Holdsclaw’s supreme athletic potential and work ethic, we additionally knew that gamers like Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter would probably have the opportunity (and prepared) to drop double nickels on her nightly if given the chance. The NBA gamers who we spoke with as they got here via New York confirmed as a lot, privately. Certainly, any alternative to check out for an NBA crew would include a bull’s-eye.

However, somebody needed to be first, what if it had been her? Holdsclaw was coming into her senior 12 months of faculty, and had, amongst many optimistic qualities, one transcendent attribute: a preternatural calm demeanor that hid a burning competitiveness. She might shoot and rebound and was unaccustomed to failure. A relentless two-way participant, she gained 4 consecutive state highschool titles and three consecutive nationwide championships with the Girl Vols. Her faculty coach, the legendary Pat Summitt, referred to as her a “Jordan-type participant and particular person,” which was all we would have liked to listen to.

She was drafted first by Washington within the 1999 WNBA Draft and would play a decade within the W, averaging 17-8-3 over the course of her professional profession. Later, Holdsclaw would describe the Knicks cowl as “a press release piece: Ladies’s basketball had arrived.” The factor is, SLAM wasn’t becoming a member of the refrain, we had been truly main it. And it wasn’t truly a refrain, again then, it was actually only a handful of us sitting in a windowless room on the decrepit-ish SLAM workplaces.  

We had been lucky that social media was non-existent again then, in any other case Holdsclaw would’ve been drawn into an unsightly back-and-forth between the sexes about her worthiness, which was one thing she didn’t ask for or deserve. And what we thought of to be a professional try to border a bigger level in regards to the progress (or lack thereof) of gender equality in sports activities would have been ridiculed or seen as a cynical transfer. In these days, anger was communicated to us via handwritten, honest-to-goodness hate mail from readers. Surrounding Holdsclaw, detrimental response was largely muted, which so far as I used to be involved, was a slam dunk. Till it wasn’t.

Per week after the problem dropped, my cellphone rang and a dispassionate feminine voice on the opposite finish mentioned merely, “Maintain for Coach Summitt.”

Gulp.

Ten seconds later, Coach’s acquainted drawl was stinging my ears. “Are YOU the FUCKING BLOCKHEAD that just about ruined my participant’s ELIGIBILITY!?” She was in zero temper for me. Apparently, as Coach then scream-splained to me, had Holdsclaw accepted the uniform after the shoot—which she didn’t—she can be in violation of NCAA guidelines and would lose her eligibility. I might so see us doing that accidentally.

I then acknowledged that sure, the truth is, I used to be the decision-maker on the Chamique Holdsclaw story and tried to elucidate my thought course of. I even employed the phrase “chip away on the male patriarchy” in an effort to butter her up/get her to cease shouting at me. She listened for a number of seconds after which abruptly hung up on me.

A part of me thinks she was happy with my reply and really noticed progress. SLAM had gone 28-for-28 with males on the quilt till we determined to alter the sport with somebody that she herself had coached up.

However greater than probably, Coach Summitt simply didn’t really feel like spending any extra time than completely vital speaking to a fucking blockhead. 


Picture by way of Getty Photos.



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