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Houston postcard: Mr. Destiny
ESPN The Magazine

ESPN The Magazine
Do you like the latest cover of The Mag? Jerry Bembry is the guy that saw it through.

Meeting Destiny's Child for the first time, I'll admit, was a stunning experience. It happened in a Houston studio -- the location for The Mag's cover shoot with the platinum-selling trio (oh, and Steve Francis too). Arriving at the studio early, I carried a large trunk that was being used by one of the stylists. As I lugged the trunk into a dressing room that I expected to be empty, three stunning young women turned around and I stopped dead in my tracks. In unison, they sang "hi." Gotta tell you, even with "hi" the group sounds good.

Four days before the shoot, there were some questions whether it would happen at all. We couldn't find a date that suited everyone -- despite the fact that they all lived in the same city. As late as Sept. 27, I remember sitting at my desk, trying to come up with another cover concept. When we discussed putting Francis on the cover, getting him with the group and calling him Destiny's Child was the first thought that came to my mind. Trying to top that would be difficult.

But in the end, we didn't have to. We found a time that pleased everyone. While Destiny's Child (Beyoncé, Kelly and Michelle) finished getting made up, Francis arrived. He walked past their dressing room, popped his head in for a second and said a quick "hello." (He didn't sing.) When he got to his dressing area (really a conference room upstairs) he was a little upset that he only got to see the group "for a couple of seconds."

The group spent hours in their dressing room, putting on makeup and trying on the many different outfits that were available to them. No, I wasn't in the dressing room to witness this. My 11-year-old daughter, Ashley -- a major Destiny's Child fan -- also attended the shoot and gave me the 4-1-1 on how the group was passing the time. But there was also a delay on Steve's end: his uniform and sneakers had not yet arrived. Believe it or not, the Rockets official bringing them got lost on his way to the studio.

Steve had a wide grin when the group finally emerged from the dressing room, wearing the outfits that you see on the cover. And the shoot was smooth -- loud music booming from the CD player of the Chevy Blazer that was backed into the mammoth studio (which is also used for music videos). As time went on, Steve got more comfortable -- and more mischievous. At one point, Kelly, seemingly shocked by something Steve said, gave him a playful smack across his arm.

The session lasted until past 1 a.m., and only the excitement of being with one of her favorite groups kept my daughter awake. Steve, looking exhausted, jumped into his black Benz after the shoot was over and said he was going home to rest. The group members, after changing back into their street clothes, jumped into their long white stretch limo for the ride home.

And the final product? It's the first time a recording artist -- sorry, Shaq, you don't count -- has appeared on the cover of ESPN The Magazine. And for me, the satisfaction of seeing an idea of mine come to fruition is sweet.

Jerry Bembry is an NBA editor for ESPN Magazine. E-mail him at jerry.bembry@espnmag.com.



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