Today we get a very personal feel of what it’s like to go one on one with some of basketballs best players – That would be interviewing them for www.slamonline.com and SLAM Magazine. We are very pleased to have Executive Editor, Lang Whitaker (at right with Kevin Garnett) with some very interesting stories.
Andy : As Executive Editor of SLAM Magazine, you prefer covering the Final Four or the NBA Finals?Lang: As to Final Four versus the NBA Finals, I mostly cover the NBA for SLAM. I’ve been to every NBA Finals since 2002, but I’ve only been to one Final Four (2006 in Atlanta, when Florida beat Ohio State), and that was because it was in Atlanta and I just happened to be in town. I just prefer the NBA to college basketball in general. Yeah, the money colors everything in the NBA — some of these guys play as much for the love as they do the contract — but the athletes in the NBA are amazing, maybe the most athletic people in the world. I understand the appeal of college basketball — the fanfare, the spirit, etc. — but considering how so few guys are good enough to make it at the next level, to me the level of basketball just isn’t that great. So I’m an NBA guy. (This may also be because I went to the University of Georgia, which hasn’t had an elite basketball team since the early 1980s. the shore of Biscayne Bay with Dwyane Wade. And I’ve done one-on-one interviews with everyone from David Stern to LeBron James to Kevin Garnett to all the guys I mentioned above. One of the funniest experiences came years ago when I was supposed to do a SLAM cover story about Rasheed Wallace. Sheed was notoriously fickle and rarely did interviews, but he agreed to do an interview with me. I offered to fly out to Portland (he was on the Blazers at the time) but he sent word that we could do the interview when the Blazers were in New Jersey a few days later. So I went to the Nets/Blazers game a few days later and approached Rasheed in the locker room before the game. I introduced myself, thanked him for giving us time, and asked if we could do the interview. He said he wanted to do it after the game, which made me nervous because the Blazers would be flying out after the game and I wouldn’t have a lot of time to talk to him. But he was adamant so I agreed. During the game, Rasheed got a technical foul called on him and the Blazers lost right at the end of the game, so I knew he wouldn’t be in a great mood in the locker room. I hustled down and camped out in front of his locker, and when he emerged from the showers, a few other reporters came over as well. Rasheed turned to face us and one reporter asked him something about the game that had just ended. Rasheed pointed to me and said, “I’m only talking to SLAM.” he did this a few times until all the other reporters left. I stood there both embarrassed and a little proud. I’ve never covered a Globetrotters game but I think there’s still a compelling story there. I did to a Globetrotters game at the OMNI in Atlanta once when I was a kid. And I own a Meadowlark Lemon throwback jersey. So there’s that.
Andy: I grew up in New York, but have lived in Georgia for almost 20 years now. You are the opposite. Huge Georgia fan now working in New York City – Old Broadway in fact. Do you miss the South, or do you prefer the fast track?
Andy: You’ve written tons of articles for many publications. Any books being published in the future?Lang: Why yes I do, Andy! Thanks for asking! I’m currently working on my first book, a memoir about growing up as a fan of the Atlanta Braves, and the life and baseball lessons I’ve learned from watching the Braves and Bobby Cox. The book is being published by Scribner and will be out, I think, in 2010. Which reminds me, I gotta go work on it…..
Andy: Thanks for the time Lang- Can’t wait to read the book!