A Reddit user by the name of PVTSO has scanned a bunch of pages from his SLAM magazine collection, with some of these shots from as far back as the late 90s (ancient!). The set of photos has proven highly popular with basketball fans on the internets.
SLAM has always done a wonderful job of capturing the swag of NBA athletes, even before people said "swag" (again, ancient). And some of these shots are indeed amazing to see today, like Kobe, with an afro, and still repping Adidas.
Or Stephon Marbury at Coney Island (one of the most iconic SLAM shoots).
Or Shawn Kemp, when he was the Reign Man, a superstar for a team in Seattle (imagine that!).
And Penny Hardaway, when he was the next Jordan.
Now, as someone who grew up reading SLAM -- in fact, it made me want to be a writer -- and eventually got to write a few pieces for them, SLAM’s importance in pushing basketball’s “hip hop” culture into the mainstream cannot be denied. Remember, as recently as 1998, the NBA was photoshopping Allen Iverson’s tattoos out of their official marketing booklets. So the league, and America, has come a long way in accepting NBA guys for who they are.
Also, I’d like to point out that I have a pretty huge SLAM collection of my own, one that I believe rivals this Reddit user. Here are some pics, taken back in 2003.
(The crappy image resolution should be proof enough these photos were taken over a decade ago).