Bonus drop: "Cover Story" x Larry Luk
The book promo tour begins! The newsletter returns! More merch drops coming! A Q&A with Larry Luk
Hi everyone. Welcome to my newsletter companion to “Cover Story,” a basketball book I wrote now available in stores which you can order here. If you want to tell your followers about my book, feel free to share this tweet or this Instagram post. If you’re not a newsletter subscriber, click here to make sure you get every post in your inbox.
With “Cover Story” finally in stores, it’s been a thrill to not only see people get a chance to check out a book I’ve been working on for the past year and a half, but to finally chat with other people about the actual book. Shoutout to SLAM founder and publisher Dennis Page for the kind words he wrote about my book on his Instagram page. I don’t think the point of writing anything is for everyone to universally like and agree with your work (as a slight aside: wanting everyone in the world to like you seems like an exhausting way to live), but those words from Dennis did mean a lot to me.
The book promo tour is in full swing. SLAM published an excerpt of “Cover Story.” GQ asked me to pick the five coolest GQ x NBA covers of all-time. I was also a guest on Sports Illustrated’s “The Crossover” podcast to talk about the rise and fall of Michael Jordan’s relationship with Sports Illustrated. My favorite interview so far, though, was with comedian Cathryn Naiker on her “Buckets & Tea” podcast. It was a wide-ranging convo spanning two hours (sorry, Cathryn!) and we got to dive into so many aspects of “Cover Story,” including the 1996 Sports Illustrated Summer Olympics preview issue (pictured above) featuring the USA women’s national basketball team.
“Cover Story” explores all the reasons why women have never had equal space on the cover of sports magazines, but also looks at how the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta helped usher in a golden era of women’s sports magazines on newsstands. One of my favorite interviews in the book is with Susan Casey, who ran Sports Illustrated for Women in the late-1990s and provided me with so much insight and behind-the-scenes material for the chapters in “Cover Story” which covered her stint with the magazine that unfortunately ended prematurely. You know what I’m going to say next: go purchase “Cover Story” to read about it all!
To celebrate the 1996 Summer Olympics and “The Summer of Women” chapter, I couldn’t think of anyone better than Atlanta-based designer and friend Larry Luk to design a “Cover Story”-inspired tee. If you follow Larry, the very first thing that stands out about him is how passionate he is about his city. I had a chance to visit him several years ago and even from the few days I spent in Atlanta (which included me asking him to spend a Sunday afternoon tie-dying shirts for me, because he’s the tie-dye king), I got a sense of how much Larry loves the city but also how much the city reciprocated that love (except for the dude making the sloth sandwich. IYKYK).
My content brief to Larry on this collab was simple: do what you always do and make something super dope! Larry took this open-ended assignment and blended his love of the ‘96 Olympics and Grateful Dead (BTW, Larry designed a Grateful Dead collection for Teton Gravity Research last year) and came up with an amazing t-shirt design. I gave a sneak peek of the tee to a few close friends earlier this week and the consensus is this is a grail piece.
Seriously, check out the back of this tee. It includes Larry’s favorite part of the shirt design where he rendered Izzy, the official mascot of the ‘96 Olympics, in the famous poses of the Grateful Dead’s iconic dancing bears:
The tee is now available for pre-order at this link and will be up on Larry’s webshop until this Friday November 12th. It’s also very on brand for me to continue dropping merch (I still have a few more things coming) even after my book has been released. As I told Larry over the phone last week: I’m almost as excited to have people create such wonderful merch and prints for me than I am to have published a book. If you know me, you know I’m only half joking.
By the way, I plan on running the newsletter for the next few months (probably more infrequently as I’ve started writing my next book). There are a few conversations I want to drop here with people at SLAM, Dime, and other places now that they’ve had a chance to check out the book and have some feedback for me. Those will serve as bonus epilogue chapters to “Cover Story.” Before I continue, I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for subscribing to the newsletter and engaging with the content. I’ve received so many fun e-mails and had so many great interactions throughout and hope you’ll stick around when I start promoting my next book in a few years.
Alright, before we wrap up, I decided to switch up the pick your favorite magazine covers and tell me about it format and instead asked Larry to tell me about the best Atlanta-related memorabilia in his personal collection.
His first selection is this 1996 Olympics participation medal (pictured above). “This medal was given to every athlete that came to compete in Atlanta, whether they placed on the podium or not,” Larry explained. A few years ago, Larry did some work with the Atlanta History Center and was not only gifted this medal, but was also allowed to browse the ‘96 Olympics archives at the Center.
Next up are these plush toys of the ‘96 Olympics official mascot Izzy. “You can’t talk about the Olympics without mentioning him,” Larry said. “He was named Whatizit because he was a blue blob that had the ability to morph into different forms. All of us in Atlanta fondly call him Izzy.” If you look at the plush toys (pictured above), you can see how different they are. Especially the size of the mascot’s nose. “People hated on this mascot initially but the kids got it,” Larry continued. “I also love how inconsistently he’s depicted. Sometimes he has a nose. Sometimes he doesn’t!”
And finally, Larry picked this pair of Nike Air Trainer SC High “Atlanta Olympics,” which is undoubtedly the most Atlanta shoe ever made. It was released in limited quantities (1996 pairs, to be exact!) on the 20th anniversary of the ‘96 Olympics. “I’m fond of this shoe for its connection to the Peach State, our Olympics, and for knowing people at the brand that worked on it,” Larry explained. “I’m currently sitting on two pairs and looking for a third.” I’m sitting on zero pairs and looking for a first, bro. Give me a shout.
Thanks again to Larry for taking the time to showcase some of his collection for the newsletter. Do me a favor and follow him on Twitter and Instagram, and don’t forget to pre-order your “Cover Story” x Larry Luk shirt by Friday.