BILL RUSSELL (CONT.)
Re Success Is a Journey (June 8) by William F. Russell. Of all the articles and features with which you have blessed us over the years, I believe that this one has the potential to recommend it as just about the best yet. It says so much of what has to be said—should have been said—over the past two decades.
THE REV. PATRICK ADAMS, O.F.M.
St. Mary's Catholic Church
Perhaps we have another philosopher on the scene √† la Eric Hoffer, who is a penetrating thinker and who has lived—really lived—in the world rather than in an ivory tower.
JOSEPH F. DELANO
West Haven, Conn.
Will you kindly advise in your publication where contributions can be sent for the support of Bill Russell, who became a millionaire throwing a ball through a hoop and proceeded to criticize the system that made this possible.
William Felton Russell is a man who speaks from his tall shoulders. In his latest SI article he writes with some truth, some opinion and some bitterness. But it appears that some of his bitterness, no matter how justified, transcends the truth. Bill writes that in the 1963-64 season the "quota system won a title for the Celtics" because the Cincinnati Royals, who had a "better team than we did," gave away Bob Boozer to get down to their black quota. I was general manager of the Royals at that time, and the trading of Boozer was not a racial matter in any way. In fact, I earlier had made an unsuccessful attempt to trade Bob for Ray Scott, who happens to be black. If there was any quota system, nobody ever bothered to tell me.
The Boozer trade did not hurt the Royals during the regular season. It is a matter of record that the Royals' won-lost statistics were 20-12 before the trade and 35-13 after it (for a 55-25 finish). Also, the Royals and Celtics were 3-3 in the six games they had played at the time Bob was traded, and Cincinnati won four of the remaining six games with Boston. Whether the trade hurt the Royals during the playoffs is a moot question. The main reason the Celts beat the Royals was Bill Russell.
I do agree with Russell on one point: I don't think that particular trade should have been made. There was color involved, but it was green, not black. There are enough real race problems we all need to work on without manufacturing phony ones.
Russell has long been one of my idols, and I enjoyed the frankness of his writing. I did take exception to one sentence: Arnold Palmer was voted Athlete of the Decade purely "along racial lines." Russell voiced his opinion, now I'll voice mine. Professional basketball could and would have become just as great without Bill Russell because of the abundance of super basketball players. However, golf without Arnold Palmer would still be a minor league sport. Palmer did more for his sport in the '60s than any other person in any other sport.
Fort Wayne, Ind.
Russell shattered glass houses and misconceptions that deserved destruction. It is because of these misconceptions that too many fans cannot believe that Rich Allen has not yet polarized the Cardinals and jumped the team. It is because of these misconceptions that white "middle America" cannot understand why Muhammad Ali was willing to disdain the chance to be a multimillionaire and world champion and why he still is a genuine hero to black youths. It is because of these misconceptions that few believed it when Russell, Jackie Robinson, Jim Brown and Curt Flood said they would not play again. Ballplayers, above all else, are mere human beings who should be treated neither like gods nor like public property. Until we learn this we will continue to boo sensitive young men who are doing their best and to lavish praise on other naive young men while they secretly ignore league and federal gambling laws.
I hope that the majority of your readers will not miss the article, but I have already found too many who did.
TERRY M. BANKS
I must take issue with my idol over some of his statements about Muhammad Ali. Having read Ali's biography, Black Is Best by Jack Olsen, I will agree with Russell that "Ali has supported his faith at great financial loss to himself." But before nodding in agreement that "the only athletes we should bother with attaching any importance to are those like Ali...," one must examine just what type of "faith" Mr. Ali preaches. If the very title of his biography doesn't reveal enough, perhaps one should study this quote from page 56 of the book: "The fact that he is at least partially white does not please black supremacist Cassius Clay Jr. 'My white blood came from the slavemasters, from raping,' he explained to a racially mixed audience. 'The white blood harms us, it hurts us. When we was darker, we was stronger. We was purer.' "
Every bloody battle of every war in history has been fought by people who are supporting their faith and standing up for their beliefs. If there ever comes a day when we raise statues to all those who have supported their faith, the earth's supply of marble will quickly be exhausted—and, hopefully, before an ounce of stone can be wasted on racists like Muhammad Ali.
I vehemently object to your magazine providing a platform to expostulate the political views of former or present athletes from the left, right or center. If Bill Russell is happy to be unhappy in our society then that is his bag. However, I prefer that your magazine confine its efforts to sports.
Santa Monica, Calif.
Right on, Bill Russell. Write on!
JIM HARRISON JR.
I would like to compliment you on a very fine article about the All-Star team selection (A Boo-Boo or Baby for Bowie, June 15). It woke up the voters. I think that after your article there will be 40% or 50% write-ins.
I will give credit for Mr. Kuhn's idea of bringing the voting back to the fans, since we are receiving the enjoyment. I just hope that he doesn't say that the reason for not putting the names of Dick Dietz and Billy Grabarkewitz on the ballot was that he couldn't spell them.
WILLIAM A. MCDERMOTT
It was stated that Gillette is using a sales force of 150 men to prevent the stuffing of the All-Star ballot boxes. Have they forgotten to guard the Astrodome? We have already voted there more than 75 times, and we have over 150 ballots at home. Bowie sure made a boo-boo!
Surely it will become known as Bowie's boo-boo. I personally voted for Ken Harrelson after all Bowie's boys said he was eligible. Fans will always vote on sentimental grounds for their favorites.
ANTHONY C. CARROLLO
Kansas City, Mo.
ANGLERS AND SAXONS
Now just who do Clive Gammon and that lot of aristocratic Saxons think they are (Bloodless Battle on the Blackwater, June 15)? Ireland proclaimed herself a sovereign and autonomous republic on Easter Monday 1916 and abolished the oath of allegiance to the crown in 1933. Consequently, Ireland neither owes, nor should it grant, special privileges to foreigners. The case of the British-owned fisheries in Ireland is an antiquated and inequitable survival of feudal hunting and fishing privileges. I, for one, say Ireland for the Irish, sinn fein!
Mr. Robert F. Jones' story on the Indianapolis 500 (Brother Al's Turn in the 500, June 8) showed him to be not only an astute racing fan, but also a sophisticated world traveler. To uncover the location of the Gatling Gun Club, St. Elmo's restaurant (good grief) and the Duck-Inn Tavern required real couth. Then again, perhaps Mr. Jones really came only to ridicule a very fine city and bask in his own strange sense of journalistic cleverness. This wasn't the first time I had read articles in SI where the writer chose to make needless and rude commentary on a particular city. As for his analysis of the race, his reference to a lack of hub-to-hub duels made it clear his only previous racing experience was gained watching old Clark Gable movies. Also, those foolish enough to take corners "like a stocker" at the Speedway will have little need of old age benefits.
I cried from the many vibrations I received from your article on People's Park (No One Plays in No Man's Land, June 15). A year ago, six months ago, this article might not have appeared in your magazine, but the times are changing. I'd like to thank you for your unbiased revelation on this powerful situation. Carry on.
Santa Ana, Calif.
I believe this to be one of the most biased, obviously distorted and prejudiced accounts I have ever read in a magazine presumably dedicated to principles of fair play and sportsmanship. I was deeply upset that lightly veiled charges of police brutality found refuge in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. One can only speculate as to how much of the success of the boycott of the University of California's multipurpose recreation facility can be attributed to active student support and how much to fear of reprisal from reprobate radicals. Certainly dissent would seem to be rather effectively stifled when dissenters find their phone numbers published in radical newspapers.
I would like to call your attention to another distance prodigy who is faster than Oregon's Steve Prefontaine was at the same age (The Freshman and the deal Guru, June 15). John Baxter, a sophomore at Upper St. Clair (Pa.) High School, has run a 4:32 mile and a 9:34.1 two-mile, compared to Prefontaine's 4:32 and 9:42.5. Of course, there is always the question of improvement, but John is a very dedicated runner who constantly runs faster and faster times.
In regards to Mr. Thomas A. Cooke's statement (19TH HOLE, June 15) about "30-year-old, second-string running back" Ernie Wheelwright not figuring on playing for the Saints next season and thus capitalizing on the publicity about his Central Park South bar-lounge (This Saint Has Been Called a Sinner, June 1), let me say that if Mr. Cooke was any kind of a Saint fan, he would have known that Wheels means to the Saints what John Havlicek means to the Celtics—he's a super substitute who came off the bench more than once last season to help the Saints pull one out of the fire (the San Francisco game, for instance).
VINCENT P. FORNIAS
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