SLAM Magazine Editor & Chief Ben Osborne chatted with me about his new SLAM Kicks: Basketball Sneakers That Changed The Game book, Why it is so important to have a pair of the Air Jordan 1 Bred’s, Sneaker Do’s & Don’ts and what will be the most sought after kicks this year & more. Check out this exclusive interview here.
Q: Introduce Yourself. Tell the people who you are.
A. My name is Ben Osborne i’m the editor & chief of SLAM magazine and the editor of the book that’s out today SLAM Kicks: Basketball Sneakers That Changed The Game.
Q: So, How are you today?
A. I’m doing great thank you. Yeah, It’s been an exciting day first real book in slam history so I’m pretty excited.
Q: How did you receive such an awesome job at Slam Magazine?
A. (Laughs) I’d like to think that I earned it. I started as an intern here out of college in August of 1997. So you were probably like 3 years old. (Laughs) and uhhh yeah I just kinda I wasn’t always working in the office but I’ve been involved with the magazine at least as a writer ever since then um and sometimes full-time sometimes Freelance and sometimes part-time but always in touch with the staff and the publisher and the editor before me left like december of 2006 and I was offered the job and so I started like full-time as the editor of SLAM in January of 2007.
Q: So you started out as an intern, who all did you work with prior to receiving the Slam Magazine job?
A. Well, I was a news aid at the Washington Post in the sports department in 96′ and 97′. I was an intern at professional sports publication I think in 95′ which is they do hoop magazine now programs for college football and basketball games umm so that was it for kind of internships. But, I wrote for besides SLAM and XXL umm New York Times, Washington Post, New York Daily News, Complex, Wall Street Journal a lot of different places.
Q: What age were you when you got your first internship?
A: Uhh that would’ve been the one at PSP, I was 20.
Q: So the basketball sneakers that changed the game book, explain the whole concept of the book?
A. I have felt as well as my boss we’ve kinda always wanted SLAM has great magazines for a bunch of years a great website but we’ve never done a book we don’t really have the capabilities to make one our companies not a book company so we needed a publisher and so I was working with an agent who agreed that SLAM should have a book and that sneakers were the most logical thing to do because we felt like sneakers was kinda a missing thing and we have a great reputation for covering basketball shoes, so me and this agent just kinda bought it to a bunch of book publishers you know saying that it’d be used the SLAM and Kicks name you know cause that has a fan base already and a company called “Rizzoli” who does really nice art books, fashion books. I don’t think they do much sports usually. But beautiful really good quality photo driven coffee table type books they were interested their was a lot of like legal paperwork that you don’t need to be concerned with but just getting the rights to use the SLAM kicks name like one company had to sign off on that and they had to agree with me to edit it then they had to hire a creative director they used SLAM thankfully so the look is kind of consistent their was like a lot of different pieces but eventually it came together I guess probably about a year ago so then we had until October you know about 6 months to build the book and you know I think that it’s not like an encyclopedia I mean the writing about the sneakers are, we ended up picking 33 I think that they would have been fine with anything from 25 to 50 umm but it was really just like again sneakers that started as basketball shoes became relevant off the court and like had an impact in some way on other sneakers on the game of basketball on hip-hop on fashion whatever we settled on 33 and so you get like 300 words on each sneaker it’s really photo driven you know I think that if you know nothing about sneakers or real young you will learn a fair amount if your a true true sneaker head it’s more about just having these shoes that you love presented beautifully you know what I’m saying it’s more about the look than intricate details I mean you can get so much info on shoes on the internet now but you can’t get beautiful photos that you can hold in you hand so it’s a very visual and we wanted a little star power on the writing.
Like say if we have 4 essays those are the longest like best written of the book and those are by Russ Bengtson who’s the sneaker editor at Complex just a kind of a sneaker OG, Scoop Jackson who wrote a Nike book about sneakers who was down with SLAM forever now he’s with ESPN but great writer who’s done a super successful sneaker book. John Brilliant, who’s the editor and founder of CounterKicks.com he kinda talks about the future of sneakers cause his website is very much about the future of the industry and then Lang Whitaker who was with us for a long time and now a big writer at NBA.com who was a collector of Game 1 sneakers which is a really neat twist and he was doing that way before anyone thought it was cool. so those guys all write on different aspects just to give a little writing credibility to the project so they have the best stories and other summaries and again just tons and tons of pictures that are very very crisp, high-resolution that was the biggest difference like again on a sneaker website you can throw anything up their and it looks okay here at SLAM we have like a certain level of criteria that run and print but it’s still you know a blurry picture or two might sneak thru but for this you know it was like a whole another level of photo quality and paper quality um so that was pretty neat and that was all dictated by this “rizzoli” I mean i was in charge of the list and basically the words that made it in and trying to find the images but they had to get approved by another person at that company who was really particular so again their was a lot of attention payed to the look of it which I think is great because again you get information a lot of places but you can’t really have this beautiful thing out you know your not gonna have your friends just look through you iPad buy they might try and look through a beautiful book.
Q: Explain the importance of having the Air Jordan Bred 1 in your closet. If your a so-called sneaker head?
A. The one on the cover is an OG of it.It’s an_____ to Russ Bengtson who has a couple different colorways of the 1′s and umm I you know certainly the first air Jordans I had umm you’ve got your chuck taylor advocates out there but umm I think that the Jordan 1 is like the most important basketball shoe of all-time so, I think that anyone that’s older remembers that and if they saved they’re original pair they should be very proud they’ve actually maintained so well we did a different project recently about Jordans 1 to 6 and we got OG’s of all those like the 3′s and the 4′s like they’ve really cracked just cause of the material but like you can keep a pair of 1′s to this day in pretty good condition if your younger don’t have the money or the time to track down an original pair I think that as a retro the 1 is a must for sure and again it was Mike’s first shoe it was like the beginning of Jordan as a brand but it still had the swoosh umm you know it’s really just when to me the fashion and the streets and the game like all combined plus he was doing such awesome stuff in it you know I mean he didn’t win a title yet but his scoring the way he played the dunk contest the fact that he was out for two solid years you know later on the Jordan became an annual thing but this one was out for twice as long so yeah again so yeah I can’t say something much stronger in my opinion it’s the most important or greatest basketball shoe of all time so that makes it definitely a must have for anyone that can get their hands on a pair I’d say.
Q: How many sneakers would you say you have in your closet? All Together?
A. I don’t have a crazy number I’m trying to think probably about 60-70 and few more another 10 at work my man Russ probably has 300 I’d say like depending on the month or if I’ve given some away or if I just gotten ones 60-70 probably.
Q: Which shoe do you think will be the most sought after shoe in your opinion this year?
A. I don’t know I mean I don’t have the retro schedule right in front of me I think they’re putting out a 1 and a 6 the same day the carmines those will be crazy I’m sure as far as new stuff the Jordan 29 you know they haven’t had like the greatest luck with the new Jordans although the 28 was pretty fresh and that shoe had come out when Jordans, the first one came out like April 1st and eventually it shifted to like a February release for someone of like 25 years and since the 28 came out like february 2013 you know there was not one this year it’s not coming out this summer so it will be like a 18 month lapse which is a long time and I know Jordan is extremely excited about it and to the best of my knowledge it hasn’t leaked yet I can’t say for certain that it’ll be a huge hit until I see it but I think that they had some decent momentum with like the later edition of the 28 not the ones with the zip-up the ones that didn’t have that people love so I Think The Jordan 29 their gonna put a lot behind it they have that fusion thing out now that people seem to like so I think that while the retros stay popular they can make a new current one that pops I think people will really take to that so I Think that will be I know that i’m sure we will be focused on the new Jordans to some degree and then again I’m not super hip to some of the fashion releases but on the basketball side I mean Kevin Durant is popular as ever I believe this will be the last one before he becomes a sneaker free agent I’m guessing he’ll stay with Nike but I think this year KD’s shoe will be you know a big deal obviously, Lebron’s have become an annual massive story and I guess the next Kobe won’t be until 2015 so I think all of this will be very sought after in the basketball sneaker world.
Q: What are your go-2 kicks in your closet?
A. That’s a good question. Umm on the basketball side Nike Lebron’s a couple different one’s from his line. Kobe’s I don’t have the new one’s but some of the low-top Kobe’s. I like some Converse weapon retros I actually wear K1X the german company they make really comfortable shoes. Non basketball I’m a huge New Balance fan I have like ton’s of 574′s I wear those all the time sadly I had to wear a lot of boots this winter so I still got some classic timberlands some nice Nike Airmax boots, I got some Adidas I have some under Amour like Cross-Trainer joints. I like to try a lot of different stuff when I actually play I played in those the last two years the CP3′s I played in those a lot of times I think the CP3 the 6 or 7 It kinda looks like the 28 a little bit so those are fresh.
Q: Who keeps the sickest sneakers on in NCAA college basketball?
A. I know Jabari has crazy stuff because he get’s the Nike hook-ups he wore Jordan in High-school his dad played so when he didn’t get free stuff I’m sure he probably could afford to buy it he lives by the bulls I don’t know how much he wears Adidas but I’m sure he got some Derrick Rose hook-ups because Derrick went to the same high school I would say without question Jabari Parker has the best sneaker collection of any player in college basketball without a doubt.
Q: What are your sneaker do’s & dont’s?
A. Try to not be, if there is a brand you always buy don’t shutoff anyone be open to every brand I think it’s nice if you want to stock some, that’s fine. I’m personally against sleeping outside for sneakers as long as my retail partner it’s not that hard to get stuff on a market if it’s not meant to be it’s not meant to be, be open to different styles in different price ranges don’t kill yourself for one shoe.
Q: Who are some of your favorite hip-hop artist? At this moment.
A. I like Kid Cudi, Last show I went to was Yeezus I love Kanye forever, Bishop Nehru, ummm Schoolboy Q that album is cool.That’s probably it, most recently.
Q: Who are you going for to win the NBA Finals?
A. I did our magazines preview in the fall and I picked the Pacers.
Q: What is your starting 5, Pick 5 players to win a ring with?
A. Lebron & Durant are in a class by themselves 1 and 2 without a doubt. Paul George has been awesome this year. I would say Chris Paul I Think he’s the top PG & Dwight Howard as the center.
Q: What would you tell someone who doesn’t have the basketball sneakers that changed the game book? To go cop it?
A. Yeah! Of course please go get it. I just think that it really has something for everyone because if your young or new to the whole culture and wanna learn your gonna learn a lot and even if you know everything you’ve never seen it presented in such high-quality production that’s what I’m really the proudest of the way that it looks and feels if you like basketball, sneakers or both then I think it’s a must have.
This wraps up my interview with Ben Osborne! Thanks for your time!
Interviewed by Imarashed