Industry secret #723 — The February cover is always major. Coinciding with All-Star Weekend, which is basically Super Bowl week for the NBA, every basketball magazine wants to make sure its February issue not only hits newsstands just in time for All-Star, but that it’s also an issue worth remembering. With basketball’s V.I.P. class all in the same place at the same time for a few days, this is your chance to stunt in front of advertisers, players, sneaker company reps, competitors and everyone else. In other words, you always want to put your best foot forward with the All-Star issue.
At the risk of sounding cocky, that’s what we’ve done here at Dime. Last year we hit a home run with Kobe and the “MVP” headline/prediction. This year it only seemed right to go with the man currently leading the way in the ’09 MVP race, the most complete ballplayer in the game, LeBron James.
But deciding “We’re going with LeBron” is easy. The hard part is figuring out how to do it. We didn’t want to go with a silly gimmick cover — two LeBrons, three LeBrons, a Black ‘Bron and a White ‘Bron, etc. Multiplicity was a cute movie, but that was like 15 years ago. And when it comes to LeBron, it seems “gimmick” is all anyone ever wants to do. Dress him up in a costume, turn him into a logo, make a classic movie poster out of him … you’ve seen it all before. No, we figured the best way to go was to go simple. With so much other “stuff” going on around LeBron, we wanted to bring the focus back where it should be: on the game. While everyone has become so wrapped up in talking about LeBron the Free Agent and LeBron the Businessman, whatever happened to LeBron the Basketball Player? And when we hooked up with LBJ in Cleveland to interview for his cover story, he felt the exact same way.
Hopefully this cover captures what we were going for. No frills, no gimmicks, just LeBron and the game. For the cover story, Austin Burton talked to LeBron about, among other things, keeping his focus on the court with all the outside distractions, how his past failures have made him the man he is today, and what exactly pushes him to get up every morning and keep going.
Then there’s the rest of the issue. Andrew Katz wrote two great stories on Kevin Martin and Rodney Stuckey, and Austin has another feature on All-Star newbie Danny Granger. We’ve also got the new Jordans (Christian Grant-Fields had to pull on the 007 cloak to get a sneak peek), the new Kobes (Aron Phillips went to L.A. to speak with Kobe and the shoe’s designer), Carmelo‘s latest business venture, Baron Davis‘ worldwide takeover, a retrospective on the last time All-Star came to Phoenix, Mike Bibby‘s personal tour guide to the place he grew up (Phoenix) and the place he resides currently (Atlanta) … we don’t want to give away too much, but you need to get your hands on this issue.