The central character in the book Slam is Gregory Harris, nicknamed "Slam". He learns some hard lessons in the story, and sums up his understanding saying,
"What I wished was that things would stop for a while and maybe we could all catch a breath and check out the score or something. That wasn't happening. What was happening was that the clock was still running, like Goldy had said it would, and we had to keep on keeping on the best way we could...Yeah...Okay...Maybe that was the way to work it. Maybe if I could get my game right, all my game, on and off the court, I would get over" (Chapter 21).
Ice is Slam's best friend. Slam is worried that he might be making some bad decisions in his life, but Ice reassures him,
"How I'm going to blow with all my people around me?...I know when I feel some real love around me" (Chapter 14).
Mtisha is Slam's girl. She is ambitious and highly intelligent, and struggles with the difficult task of balancing her plans to go away to college with the people who are important in her life. She says,
"Just trying to figure out how we all fit together...you know, me, you, Ice, Bianca, all of us. Cutting people out of your life is easy, keeping them in is hard" (Chapter 9).
Jimmy is one of Slam's teammates at Latimer. He tries to smooth things out between Slam and the coach, attempting to communicate the coach's concerns in a way that is non-confrontational. He tells Slam,
"The coach said you have an attitude problem...sometimes you act as if you have a chip on your shoulder...you know what I mean?...I don't think you should jam on your teammates...just, you know, cool it a little. That's why I told you the coach told Nick to play you one-on-one...Just act like you're part of the team" (Chapter 6).
Goldy is an older man who used to coach the team at Latimer. He only works part-time now, having had a heart attack, but he strikes up a rapport with Slam and gives him some good advice throughout the story. At a particularly difficult time for Slam, Goldy says,
"You still don't get it, do you?...The only difference between on the court and off the court is that everybody is in the game off the court. You will play, and you will win or lose. There's nobody on the bench, nobody sitting it out. You're in the game, Slam. You're in it whether you want to be or not. A lot of people fool themselves and say they're just not going to play. Believe me, it don't work that way" (Chapter 17).