Since it launched in 1994, SLAM Magazine has represented the ultimate Basketball Brand and featured some of the most iconic legends on memorable covers. Last fall, DraftKings partnered with Autograph and SLAM to release Logo Passes that referenced some of the most legendary covers. This year, there will be six iconic slam covers featured in 12 iconic NFTs available in the DraftKings Marketplace.
We’ve already broken down the details of the drop, which you can check out here. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and look back at the careers of the superstars featured in the available covers.
Long before taking as many 3-pointers as possible was an NBA trend, Allen built his whole career around his silky-smooth jump shot. Until just last season, he had the record for most 3-pointers ever made — 7,429.
Even in college, Allen was a long-range threat, setting the UConn single-season record with 115 3-pointers. Allen was taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the No. 5 overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft and immediately traded for the No. 4 pick, Stephon Marbury. As a result, he began his career by playing seven seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Midway through the 2002-03 season, Allen was traded to the Seattle SuperSonics in a deal for Gary Payton. While in Seattle, Allen led the Sonics to the Conference Semifinals in 2005 alongside Rashard Lewis. In the course of that Seattle run, Allen was featured on the iconic “The Color of Money” SLAM cover being celebrated with this NFT.
In 2007, the Boston Celtics added Allen and Kevin Garnett to Paul Pierce to create the “Big Three.” The trio improved Boston’s record by 42 wins and immediately brought the Celtics their first title since 1986. On that run, Allen played a key role in the largest comeback in NBA Finals history in Game 4 vs. the Lakers and tied the then-NBA Finals record with seven 3-pointers in the decisive Game 6.
After four more seasons in Boston, which included another trip to the NBA Finals in 2010, the veteran took his talents to South Beach and teamed up with the younger “Big Three” of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. That team faced off with the Spurs in the 2013 NBA Finals, and in Game 6, Allen hit a pivotal 3-pointer from the corner to force overtime. That was his only 3-point attempt in the 41 minutes he played in that contest. The Heat went on to win their second straight title, and Allen won his second career championship.
Allen retired from the NBA on November 1, 2016 and was elected to the NBA Hall of Fame two years later. In addition to his three-point focus, Allen was also ahead of his time by pursuing an acting career, most notably co-starring with Denzel Washington and Spike Lee in He Got Game as high school basketball phenom Jesus Shuttlesworth in 1998.
As a forerunner of the 3-point specialist, Allen’s smooth jumper will continue to be the stuff of legends, and he’ll always be remembered as one of the top players of this era.
Another of Boston’s 2008 “Big Three” was the always-intense Garnett. If Allen’s signature was his silky-smooth jumper, Garnett’s trademark was his menacing glower and ferocity on defense. His intense stare also made it onto his “How To” cover featured in this NFT set, which was originally released in February of 2010.
Garnett ranks among the NBA leaders in many categories since he had such a long career, but he actually didn’t start playing organized basketball until he was a freshman in high school. He went straight from high school to the pros, and while he wasn’t the first player to make the jump, he was the first to do so in 20 years. Until the NBA changed the rules, 30 other prospects made that leap after KG, including Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.
He was taken No. 5 overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he became known as “The Franchise.” He worked well with legendary coach Flip Saunders and teamed up with Marbury to lead Minnesota to the playoffs for the first time ever.
Garnett’s best season in Minnesota was the 2003-04 season, when he averaged 24.2 points, 13.9 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 2.2 blocks and 1.5 steals per game on his way to winning his only career MVP award. He led the Wolves to the best record in the West while making it to the Western Conference Finals, but an injury to Sam Cassell was too much to overcome against the final season of the Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal-led Lakers.
After 12 years in Minnesota, Garnett was traded to Boston in a move that brought seven players to the Timberwolves, which remains the largest number of players traded for a single player in league history.
In his first year in Boston, Garnett won Defensive Player of the Year, earning a spot on the All-NBA First Team and finishing third in MVP voting. He averaged 18.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.2 blocks per game while anchoring Boston’s strong defense on the way to the title.
It was after winning the NBA Finals with Boston that Garnett made his proclamation, “Anything is possible!” That became the catchphrase and marketing slogan for KG’s career, along with multiple advertising campaigns, and it was the signature moment for that year’s championship.
In his 21 years in the NBA, Garnett piled up an impressive resume by stuffing the stat sheet in multiple categories. He is the only player in NBA history to accumulate 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists, 1,500 steals and 2,000 blocks.
Garnett was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2020 and remains one of the best defenders in the history of the NBA. He is one of just five players to claim an MVP and a Defensive Player of the Year Award.
During the early 2000s, some of the most exciting offenses in the NBA were led by Nash. Those teams helped usher in the modern era of the NBA, and his play led SLAM to proclaim “Steve Nash is No Joke” in November of 2005 on the cover that is highlighted with this NFT.
Nash is remembered as one of the best international players in the history of the NBA after coming to the United States from Canada. He played his college ball at Santa Clara, winning WCC Conference Player of the year in 1995 and 1996 before entering the NBA Draft, where he was selected No. 15 overall by the Phoenix Suns.
Nash’s first tenure with the Suns lasted just three seasons before he was traded to the Mavericks. During his six years in Dallas, Nash emerged as an NBA All-Star while running an offense that featured another international phenom, Dirk Nowitzki. The Nash-Dirk Mavs made the playoffs for four straight seasons and advanced to the Western Conference Finals in 2003, where they lost to the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs.
After the 2004 season, Nash returned to Phoenix as a free agent and was at his best during his second stint with the Suns, who had a strong young core of players in Shawn Marion, Joe Johnson and Amar’e Stoudemire. Another key to Nash’s success was the Suns’ new system under head coach Mike D’Antoni. Phoenix played at such a fast pace that the offense earned the nickname “seven seconds or less,” which was their actual goal. They were the first team to look to shoot 3-pointers on fast breaks rather than always attack the rim.
In D’Antoni’s offense, Nash won back-to-back MVPs in 2005 and 2006. In 2005, he averaged 11.5 assists per game and made over half of his field-goal attempts. He remains the only Canadian to win the MVP in NBA history.
Throughout his career, Nash was well-known for his playmaking, ball-handling and shooting skills. He averaged over 10 assists per game in seven of eight seasons during his second tenure in Phoenix, leading the league for five of those seasons. He also was part of the exclusive “50-40-90 Club,” shooting 50% from the field, 40% from 3-point range and 90% from the free-throw line over the course of a season. Nash is one of just nine players to achieve that level of efficiency in NBA history, and he reached that mark in four separate seasons. Aside from Nash, only Larry Bird managed to qualify for the club multiple times, and he only did it twice.
Nowitzki was one of the most successful European players to join the NBA, and his incredible career blazed a trail for many other players to follow. He is the only player in NBA history to play 21 seasons with a single franchise, and he led his Mavericks through the franchise’s most successful era, highlighted by the 2011 NBA Championship.
Coming into the 1998 NBA Draft, Nowitzki was a 20-year-old converted tennis player who had just been named “German Basketballer of the Year.” After turning down multiple college offers, he became just the fourth German player in NBA history when he was drafted at No. 9 overall by the Bucks. He was traded to the Mavs on draft night in a multi-team deal that also brought Nash to Dallas. The young Nowitzki struggled to adjust to the speed of play in the NBA, especially on defense, only averaging 8.2 points and 3.4 rebounds per game while his team went 19-31 and missed the playoffs.
Nowitzki quickly improved, though, finishing second in the voting for the NBA Most Improved Player Award in his second year. In his third season, the Mavs made the playoffs for the first time in his career, and in his fourth season, he made his first of 14 All-Star Game appearances.
Nowitzki carried the team to the 2006 NBA Finals. Even without Nash, he finally got past the Spurs, but O’Neal, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat were waiting in the Finals. Despite taking a 2-0 series lead, Nowitzki’s first NBA Finals trip ended in a 4-2 series loss. His “4 MVP” SLAM cover featured in this NFT was issued in June of 2006 while he was leading the Mavs’ to his first Finals appearance.
The next year, Nowitzki had his best season, averaging 24.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 3.4 assists. He joined his former teammate Nash the 50–40–90 club and led Dallas to a franchise-best 67 wins. The season ended badly, though, as the Mavs suffered a shocking playoff defeat in the first round vs. the Golden State Warriors.
He changed his playoff narrative in 2011, though, carrying the Mavs to a rematch with the Heat. This time, Wade was joined by James and Bosh in their new version of the Big Three. Despite a torn tendon sustained in his middle finger in Game 1 and a 101-degree fever in Game 4, Dirk averaged 26 points, 9.7 rebounds and played over 40 minutes per game on his way to NBA Finals MVP and the Mavericks’ only NBA Championship.
Nowitzki continued to play for the Mavs for eight more seasons, setting almost every record imaginable for the franchise. He set the NBA record by playing 21 seasons. While that record of longevity was later surpassed, Nowitzki still holds the mark for most seasons played with a single team.
At this point, Nowitzki remains the highest-scoring foreign-born player in NBA history after paving the way for the modern infusion of international NBA talent.
Duncan wasn’t the flashiest star in the NBA, but what some thought he lacked in flair he more than made up for with five NBA Championships. In December of 2000, Duncan graced the cover of SLAM with his famous Ice Man 2000 cover, which is the basis for his NFT in this collection.
Unlike KG or Nowitzki, Duncan opted to stay in college at Wake Forest for four years. While the star from the Virgin Islands was dominating as a Demon Deacon, the Spurs struggled to a 20-62 season in 1997 due to injuries to their star center, David Robinson. They took their opportunity with the No. 1 overall pick to select Duncan, forming the “Twin Towers.” Duncan’s game translated to immediate success. He had 22 rebounds in just his second NBA game, started all 82 regular season contests and earned All-NBA First Team honors while averaging 21.1 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. He easily won the NBA Rookie of the Year award and also won Rookie of the Month every single month.
In his second season, Duncan led the Spurs to an NBA Championship. The team was an impressive 15-2 in the playoffs with Duncan averaging 23.2 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game on his way to his first NBA Finals MVP.
Duncan was even better in 2001-02, averaging 25.5 points, 12.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game on his way to earning his first of back-to-back MVP awards. His second MVP season turned into a send-off for “The Admiral” after Robinson announced it would be his final season. The Spurs won 60 games and beat the Nets in the Finals with Duncan winning his second NBA Finals MVP. In the Finals, Duncan averaged an amazing 24.2 points, 17.0 rebounds, 5.3 blocks and 5.3 assists per game. In their final game together, Robinson had 13 points and 17 rebounds while Duncan came just short of a quadruple-double with 21 points, 20 rebounds, 10 assists, and eight blocks. That impressive showing put an exclamation point on the end of the Twin Towers era in San Antonio.
Duncan was far from done, though, forming a new core with Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker that defeated the defending-champion Detroit Pistons in 2005. Against elite defender Ben Wallace, Duncan posted 25 points and 11 rebounds in the decisive Game 7 to earn his third NBA Finals MVP award.
The Spurs claimed their fourth NBA Championship of Duncan’s career in 2007 by sweeping young LeBron James and the Cavs, but then the Spurs didn’t return to the NBA Finals for the next five years. In 2012, Duncan teamed up with rookie Kawhi Leonard and faced James again in the NBA Finals, this time with the Heat. The Spurs were seconds from another title when Ray Allen’s miracle 3-pointer snatched it from their grasp.
The Spurs were on a mission the following season, winning an NBA-best 62 games. They left no doubt in the Finals rematch vs. Miami, setting a then-record with an average point differential of 14 points per game. That championship made Duncan just the second player in NBA history to win a championship in three different decades.
Duncan remains the only player in NBA history to receive All-NBA and All-Defensive honors in his first 13 seasons. He is the Spurs’ all-time leader in points (26,496), rebounds (15,091), blocked shots (3,020) and games played (1,392). He went an astonishing 1,001-391 in the regular season during his 19 years in San Antonio and is the only player to get over 1,000 regular-season wins with a single franchise.
In many ways, Iverson was the exact opposite of Duncan. He was loud in many of the ways Duncan was quiet. Iverson’s swagger and confident attitude throughout the early 2000s got him plenty of attention. His “Respect the Game” SLAM cover, which is featured in this NFT set, debuted in May of 2000 and is one of the most well-known of all of SLAM’s iconic covers.
Iverson was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft after starring at Georgetown, joining the Philadelphia 76ers. Listed at only six feet tall, he became the shortest first-overall pick in NBA history. On his way to NBA Rookie of the Year, he continued to show off his signature devastating crossover and refused back down from anyone. He memorably dropped Michael Jordan in a mid-season meeting on his way to 37 points in a loss vs. the Bulls and later ran off five straight games with over 40 points, including a 50-point performance vs. the Cavs.
Iverson’s best season was 2000-01, in which he earned his lone MVP award. He also won the NBA All-Star game MVP and won his second NBA scoring title, averaging 31.1 points.
Iverson’s best postseason run also came in 2001 when the Sixers topped Reggie Miller’s Pacers, Vince Carter’s Raptors and Ray Allen’s Bucks before meeting O’Neal, Bryant and the Lakers in the NBA Finals. Los Angeles was undefeated in the postseason until Iverson scored 48 points — including seven straight in overtime — to win Game 1. In one of the most iconic moments in NBA history, Iverson knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Sixers the lead and stepped triumphantly over defender Tyronn Lue. Unfortunately for Iverson, that was the only NBA Finals win of his career, as Bryan and O’Neal dominated the rest of those Finals, and Iverson never returned.
After a playoff loss the following season, Coach Larry Brown criticized Iverson for missing practices, which sparked one of the most memorable rants in NBA history, as Iverson said “I’m supposed to be the franchise player, and we’re in here talking about practice?” The full tirade included 24 mentions of the word “practice” and has been parodied many times over the years. Iverson and Brown worked through their issues, and Iverson eventually joined Brown for Team USA. He also later called Brown “the best coach in the world.”
After several more successful seasons in Philly, Iverson was traded to the Nuggets for a season and later to the Pistons. After playing for Memphis, returning to Philadelphia for a brief stint and even playing in Turkey for a while, Iverson announced his retirement in 2013.
Iverson may have had more of an impact than any other player on the style of the NBA, both on and off the court. During his MVP season, Iverson was the first player to regularly wear a sleeve on his shooting arm to help him recover from elbow bursitis. He wore the sleeve for the rest of his career, and many modern players emulate his style by wearing sleeves.
Iverson was known for his devastating crossover, which helped him be one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history. While his body couldn’t hold up to help him climb high into the career rankings, he remains the shortest and lightest player to ever win the MVP award.
You can celebrate the legendary careers of Iverson, Nash, Garnett, Allen, Nowtizki and Duncan by collecting these Iconic NFTs available in the DraftKings Marketplace.
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