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Robert "Scoop" Jackson is Editor-at-Large of SLAM and author of Sole Provider - the book that charts 30 years of Nike Basketball shoes
(Photo: Nike)
Sole Provider
Scoop Jackson
Q & A

Basketball fans in the UK will know Robert "Scoop" Jackson as the former front man for Channel 4's NBA coverage, but he's also the Editor-at-Large of SLAM magazine, and the author of Nike's recently published Sole Provider book - which charts the history of Nike's range of basktball shoes over the past 30 years, and forms the basis for the Sole Provider exhibition in London's Atlantis Gallery, which runs until 17th May.

Basketball 365 gave you the chance to quiz Scoop on anything you wanted to ask him about the game of basketball, and here's what the man himself had to say.....

Jeff Davies, London
With high school phenom LeBron James likely heading to the Draft in June and the Michael Jordan playing era seemingly coming to a close, I wonder if you could talk some about the impact of both events in terms of the future for the NBA?
Scoop Jackson Scoop Jackson
I personally think that this is the era the NBA was looking for 5 years ago when MJ retired the second time. They were scared that no one knew who the new cats ballin’ were, and that they weren’t at that “not make you ever wanna turn off the television” level yet.

Now they are.

TMac, Kobe, AI, KG, JKidd, Dirk, all are legit superstars now. Plus Phoenix, Dallas and Sacramento draw great audiences because of the way they ball.

So now it’s cool for Mike to leave. The League ain’t scared any more.

As for LeBron, I thought the hype was good. I loved it. I just hope that it doesn’t set him up for failure. He’s the truth. Along with Yao, they should have the interest in the game locked until Sebastian Telfair enters the stage

David Brown, Glasgow
Great job on the Sole Provider book - I got serious flashback moments seeing some of the shoes from back in the day - like my first pair of Air Jordans! How much fun was it working on the book and what's your favourite pair of shoes ever?
Scoop Jackson

Scoop Jackson
It was ridiculous fun, but a lot of work.

Sole Provider is one of those projects that comes along once in a career that you love to get, and once you get it you’re like, “Damn, it’s going to take me a year to get this right.”

Plus there was a lot of pressure to come through, you know. I mean, if I mess up the Nike book, it’s over right? So the pressure was thick.

As far as my fave kicks, I’d have to say that it’s split between four:

For style and comfort the AJ III and AJ XI.

For performance the Stunner and the Flightposite III.

Steven Chang, Birmingham
Scoop - do you think the bridge between Europe and America has closed since the disappointing US finish at the Worlds, and do you think the future is in Europe with so many non-Americans featuring in the draft last season and this season too? Also, do you believe in the team approach as seen in Europe or do you believe in the one-on-one individual stuff in the NBA?
Scoop Jackson

Scoop Jackson
I think the gap is closing but not to the degree that everyone thinks that it is. To me there’s still a defensive gap between how D is played in the NBA and how European players play D. I still haven’t seen one player from overseas that has made any type of defensive impact over here.

Sooner or later GMs are going to realize this and not be stuck on believing that a lot of the Euro ballers are the answer. They have to learn to play D before the gap is significantly closed. And the one-on-one thing, well the game here (especially the NBA game) is all about matchups, so the 1-on-1 game works.

The fact that the team the US sent to the World Game lost has nothing to do with skills, I think it had more to do with coaching and taking the stage.


Justin Dreyfuss, Alexandria, VA (USA)
How do you feel the game of basketball has reflected the growing technology, intelligence, or emphasis on physical ability?
Scoop Jackson

Scoop Jackson
At some points, but I still feel that true ball players regardless of size, shoes, physicality, intelligence are true ball players. Just look at Iverson (small), McGrady and Garnett (skinny), Duncan, Nowitzki, Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker (none of them in shape or cut).

Ball players play ball, none of that other stuff (except for maybe intelligence) means that much.

Gaz Latham, Manchester
What up Scoop! Who do you think is the best English player in the States at the moment? Who has the best chance of going all the way? Has John Amaechi played his last season in the NBA?
Scoop Jackson

Scoop Jackson
The best UK baller is Luol Deng from Blair HS in Jersey. Even though he’s from Sudan, he has roots in London. My boy Roger Hosannah told me about him three years ago. He’s going to be the truth.

As for JA, I think he has at least another year. Everyone needs a big body on the roster. It’s just a matter if John can step away from the $.

Josh B, Bucks
Hey wassup Scoop? First off, I'd like to congratulate ya on SLAM mag. What do you reckon about the state of English basketball at the mo, with it meant to be the fastest growing sport in the UK and all, but it doesn't seem like it! Anyway I'm out - oh yeah, by the way, ya reckon you could get an article in SLAM bout the English game maybe?? Peace
Scoop Jackson

Scoop Jackson
Maybe. We’ll see if we can work a lil’ sum’n-sum’n out.

I haven’t been to London in a minute, maybe 6 years. So I can’t really speak on the status of ball over there. I do know when we did the show NBA 24/7 on Channel 4 over there that was our intention, to bring the flavor and make the folks fall in love with the game.

Maybe it just took longer than we expected.

Ivan Straw, Lancashire
Do you think the NBA needs to focus on the current trend of high school ballers dropping outta college early to make themselves available for the draft? Do you think they make the jump too soon with the lure of big paydays, yet once their career (average of 5-7 years) is over they have no academic acumen to fall back upon?
Scoop Jackson

Scoop Jackson
There’s a part of me that feels that way. Especially being black over here, you hate to see young brothas get exploited with no security and nothing to fall back on. But at the same time, I ain’t mad at any young cat that can put himself in the position to upgrade he and his family’s life.

I mean, universities ain’t going nowhere. There is no age limit as to when you can go to school and you can never get too old to learn. So as much as I’d like to see some of these brothas get some paper (degree) behind them, I’m not stupid or hypocritical enough to be mad about them taking advantage of the situations placed in front of them.

One more thing: You know what funny to me?

I never hear anyone concerned about the fact that Dirk Nowitzki never went to college. It’s only the “other” players. The KG’s TMac’s and Kobe’s.

What’s up with that?

William Alimi, Philadelphia (USA)
Were you always interested in being a writer? If so, as an aspiring basketball writer, were you always good or did it take time for you to get to the level you are at? PS - Any tips you could give me, on becoming a writer like you?
Scoop Jackson

Scoop Jackson
Oh it took time.

I never really had visions of being a writer but I always had great love for writing and news. In high school I was a magazine fanatic: Sports Ill, Rolling Stone, Billboard, Parade, Esquire, all of them.

So I read a lot. Not books, but newspapers and magazines. Nelson George and Gary Smith were like my idols. As was my father, who was a writer for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver. So I followed all of them. And I guess my passion turned into work ethic and career interest. I just studied the game and found out how I can be effective.

And I got lucky.

Don’t get me wrong, when I was young, there was no outlets like The Source, Slam, Vibe, ESPN, none of that was around. So I was just lucky that there have been outlets.

My advice to you: read, find writers that you like and read everything that they do. Study them, dissect their stories, learn why they write what they write, the way they write, the angles they use. To me that is the greatest asset any writer can have to find his or her own voice is to read others. It’s like musicians listening to music.

Everything becomes an influence.


Lazarus Johnson, London
Scoop, what's your stance on the current shoe war being fought out between Nike and Adidas for LeBron James' signature? Does that detract from the game or does it just intensify the athletes pulling power as a major player in the League. Is that healthy?

Scoop Jackson

Scoop Jackson
That’s just the nature of the business. It’s just that LBJ has it going at a higher level because of the fame he attained over the last 2 years.

Professional sports is showbusiness: 5% show, 95% business

Kate Cooper, Newcastle
Who do you see winning the NBA Playoffs this season? Do the Lakers have it in them to get a third straight title?
Scoop Jackson

Scoop Jackson
It’s hard to bet against them, especially KB8, But KG has something to prove more than they do. Not saying that the Wolves will get to the Championship, but I think the Lakers are not the same as they once were. I’m not a huge fan of Sacramento, but I do think they may get to the Finals. Who they will play is another story. It’s very hard for me to go against AI. He’s the sickest player in the L. So Kings vs. 76ers. Kings in 7. Ask me next week and my answer will change. :-)

Basketball 365
Seeing as you've been good enough to answer some questions from our site users, please feel free to close up this Q&A however you like - shout-outs, letting people know what you're up to, anything you like..... the floor is yours Scoop!
Scoop Jackson

Scoop Jackson
Just want to shout out, give love, spit venom to my fam over the water: Roger Hosannah, Fat Freddie M, the great Mark Webbo, my girls for life: Marina Washma, Sally Blower, Tina Flintoff; Everyone at Chrysalis Sport; Mica Paris, Beverly Knight, DJ Mark Rae, Jazzy B and all the brothas hanging out and ballin’ in Brixton. Wish I could come thru and be with y’all but…

And yo, CB (Charlie Brooks), thanks for being so cool. Keep holding Nike down.

Much love. Thanks for the op.



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