“Hoop has always been my life, and SLAM’s point of view has always been something that I admired,” the former Nike exec tells Boardroom. “It’s the perfect convergence.”
For the first time in its illustrious history, SLAM magazine has a new CEO.
Les Green will replace founder Dennis Page. Green’s background is not one of producing magazines, per se, but it does signal a more modern approach for basketball’s definitive print publication. After a prolific run as a Brand Director at Nike and a year as the vice president of marketing at socially driven e-commerce company Teespring, Green is on to his next legacy brand.
“It’s just the perfect timing. And to be frank, any timing for this role would have been perfect for me,” Green told Boardroom of his cross-industry jump to a legacy media brand. “Hoop has always been my life, and SLAM’s point of view has always been something that I admired. So the opportunity to come in and steer the ship as we evolve into a modern media company is just unbelievable.”
Green is tasked with the continued evolution of a publication that has always prided itself on being ahead of the curve. Page founded the magazine in 1994, introducing SLAM as the “In Your Face Basketball Magazine” — a melding of hoops and hip-hop culture that became a groundbreaking monthly not just for basketball fans, but the magazine industry as a whole.
The brand has remained an authority for nearly three decades, organically cultivating iconic moments and giving the basketball world a comfortable place to continue telling its stories.
As SLAM stepped into the digital age in the past decade, commerce and social media became more prevalent as print waned into the realm of special attraction.
In that sense, Green is a perfect fit to continue that evolution, taking SLAM from a subscription-based publication to a modern media brand that can not only inform its consumers and show them something they haven’t seen before, but go as far as dressing them and entertaining them with live events.
Green cites his time at Nike and Teespring as when he began to get a clearer picture of the connection consumers need to have with their content creators, and how that can be applied to bigger brands.
“People that are creating daily content and a relationship with their consumers, that’s what is going to win the day,” Green said. “When you take it to a brand like SLAM that is literally a 27-year-old, beloved basketball brand, you can put that in the same category. They’ve been creating amazing content for many, many years, and obviously, it’s gone from print to digital to social and now even long-form, and I just feel that that relationship is going to be paramount moving forward with the way consumers engage with product services, experiences, and events. To me, I feel like it’s the perfect convergence.”
With SLAM, Green has a fully functioning vessel to test the theory — a brand its consumers have been invested in for decades and a content team that has touched all corners of the culture it covers.
“We look at it as one spectrum, and all of it is a part of the culture,” Green said. “We’re not a brand that is covering NBA basketball; we’re covering the culture of basketball. And we would not be true to that if we just focused on one particular element.”
From its inception in 1994, SLAM has aimed to establish authority in all avenues of basketball, from youth ball to high school and college, to the NBA and overseas, to women’s basketball, to the fashion of the game both on and off the court. Green’s leadership is a new day, but those values aren’t going to change.
They’re going to be enhanced.
“The culture is prevalent and omnipresent, but it hasn’t really been presented or commercialized,” Green said. “You could argue there is no definitive basketball culture destination, and that’s the void we want to fill.”
SLAM has done just that over the course of its transformation into media’s digital age. LeagueFits has become a phenomenon unto itself, covering the fashion of the sport and the way it has transcended arena tunnels and made its way into runways around the world
“What a lot of people get confused about and don’t remember is basketball culture existed before streetwear culture,” Green said. “Between basketball and skate, those are the foundations of streetwear.”
As networks and bigger publications begin devoting resources to covering the fashion of the NBA, they’re doing the same with other portions of the “spectrum” that SLAM has always devoted space to as well.
SLAM’s high school coverage has always been a key function in its mission, as has its coverage of women’s basketball, which was taken a step further this year with the introduction of WSLAM, its women’s-only spinoff.
“I think it gives us an opportunity to do two things: One, have another facet of basketball culture that we can really sink our teeth into from a storytelling standpoint, because there’s so much, more there than just basketball when it comes to the women’s game,” Green said. “Then also, another opportunity for us to separate ourselves from what anybody would consider competition — because I think that we can do a better, more robust, and tactful job of telling that story right. Because to me, the SLAM superpower is storytelling.”
So begins Green’s reign atop the In Your Face Basketball Magazine, an opportunity he is fully embracing.
“I’m super humbled and grateful for this opportunity and I don’t take it lightly. I know the weight of what it means to be the second CEO ever in SLAM’s history, with the first being the founder,” he said. “Being a man of color doing that, that’s not lost on me. I definitely step into that humbly and graciously but also anxious and ready to hit the ground running. I’m super excited about all of the different things we’re going to be able to take advantage of and just really solidifying and putting this brand where it needs to be.”
And just like that, Green kicks off his tenure with one simple message: