BUCKING THE LEGEND
I have read a lot of absurd articles in my time, but Peter Carry's The Best Team—Ever (Nov. 15) takes the prize. Carry might be well on his way toward becoming the Tex Maule of basketball writers.
One does not have to create any "Dominance Index" to realize that the Boston Celtics, as Carry finally admits in the last line of his article, "were the best pro team in any sport." Their record of 11 championships in 13 years and the 11 banners hanging from the rafters of Boston Garden speak more eloquently than any index. I can recall the Philadelphia 76ers in 1967 and the New York Knicks in 1970 proclaiming to the world that they were the greatest teams ever and on their way to establishing dynasties that would surpass the Celtics. Well?
Certainly the Milwaukee Bucks have the potential to dominate the league for many years, but so did the 1967 76ers and the 1970 Knicks. The Bucks must earn the title, as did the Celtics, and not be given it by sportswriters who like to go out on limbs. After all, if the Celtics, who are certainly not one of the top teams in the league at this point, can defeat the Bucks as they have done this year, then the Bucks cannot expect to win the crown without a struggle.
I imagine Red Auerbach did a slow burn as he read Carry's article because Auerbach never conceded anything. His great teams proved themselves on the courts of battle rather than on the pages of magazines. Furthermore, it wouldn't surprise me in the least to see Auerbach rebuild his team and prevent Carry's assumption from becoming a reality.
Peter Carry's conjecture should beget an avalanche of mail from screaming fans. As a Milwaukee Buck fan, my appraisal is that Kareem Jabbar is fantastic, but Bill Russell's awesome record is in a class of its own. The Celtic record and the Russell legend are based upon year after year of determination and sacrifice. The upstart pretenders, including the Bucks, will have to dominate for the better part of a decade before they can even dream a phrase like "the best team—ever."
Players like Wilt Chamberlain, John Unitas and Henry Aaron managed a taste of team glory. Players like Bill Russell, Bart Starr and Mickey Mantle arc among those fortunate enough to have fully savored the rewards of some of the best teams ever. Ask Oscar Robertson.
No, sir, the Bucks aren't great yet. And if Kareem Jabbar retires prematurely....
How can SI's "expert" be so stupid and premature as to call the Milwaukee Bucks the best team ever? Agreed, Jabbar is the best, or soon-to-be-best, center. Agreed, the Big O is one of the finest guards. But you were talking in terms of teams, not individuals. Jabbar never had to battle a young and healthy Chamberlain or Russell year after year. He battled a small Wes Unseld, a crippled Willis Reed and an old Wilt Chamberlain.
State College, Pa.
Thanks to SI and Peter Carry for a fine article. The NBA is the toughest it has ever been, and with so many good teams, especially in the Bucks' Midwest Division, it is a wonder one team can still dominate. Could the old Lakers, Celtics or 76ers do today what the Bucks are doing? With Jabbar, the Bucks are making the biggest and best dynasty of the century.
Calloo Callay! Hooray for the Bucks. But a Dominance Index of 235%? What about the tertiary extrinsic appurtenancy? It's .047%, of course. And how can you possibly ignore the floomary rebound relation? Obviously, it is -2,347%. Adding these very important statistics will significantly alter the DI. In the future, gentlemen, please keep your arbitrary analyses of the abstract correct in all essentials.
TED GREEN'S STORY
The article by Ted Green with Al Hirsh-berg (My First Last Rites, Nov. 15) was a fantastic account of Green's fight to get back into action after suffering brain damage and partial paralysis in an ice hockey brawl. This article emphasizes the extreme roughness in the game. I must admire Green's courage in his miraculous comeback.
CRAIG F. LOUDY
Chapel Hill, N.C.
Undoubtedly you will be receiving letters from hockey fans arguing that you should not have published this article, since it may tend to give hockey a bad image and also because it might be a bad influence on young players. I wholeheartedly disagree with this attitude. SI's job, among other things, is to portray sports as they really are, and not as the fans and the owners wish they were. Furthermore, it is of crucial importance for young players to realize that fights on the ice can result in injuries that prove to be far more serious than the usual cuts and bruises.
I should also like to point out a fact that Mr. Green appears to have overlooked. If NHL players are going to insist upon acting like barroom brawlers on the ice, then they are not going to be justified in complaining when such conduct leads to its natural consequences, namely, serious injury and criminal prosecution.
Was this article written to condemn Wayne Maki, defend Ted Green, give a fair account of what happened or simply entertain the readers? One point becomes clear through all of this. Once a player builds a reputation as a fighter or a tough guy, he usually spends more time living up to this reputation than he does playing hockey. Other players have realized this and abandoned the tough-guy role in order to play better hockey. Stan Mikita is an example.
Although I sympathize with Ted Green over the horrible injury that felled him, I cannot forget something he said: "Spearing is a filthy trick." It seems Ted has had a lapse of memory.
My fellow SI subscribers will probably express their deepest sympathies for Ted and their anger with Maki, but let's not make Terrible Ted a saint. He is far from it.
I would like to say thank you to one outstanding ice hockey player, Teddy Green. Too many times sports heroes are put on pedestals. With this article I'm sure he has made us all realize and begin to understand how hard it was for him to skate again. He might never regain his position as Terrible Teddy, but he'll always be an example of courage and direct honesty. Yay, Teddy.
I'd like to congratulate Robert Boyle for his excellent article on Otis Taylor and the Kansas City Chiefs (Call It Catch-as-Catch-Can, Nov. 15). No. 89 can indeed do it all, catch, throw, run and leap. He's got the quickness. He's got the moves. He's got the strength. He can often be found concentrating on the opposing receivers, and he works hard in learning their moves. He wants to learn more so he can become an even better ballplayer. His attitude is excellent, and his dedication is certainly apparent. But Quarterback Len Dawson said it best: "He has such great reflexes and great hands but it isn't the hands—it's the head." Otis Taylor does use his head out there, and that's just another asset in making him the super athlete he is. Now I ask you, how much closer can a player come to perfection?
It was a great choice to have Gary Wichard of C. W. Post College as the subject of the feature article of your COLLEGE FOOTBALL section (At C.W. on L.I. the Q.B. Is O.K. Says Y.A., Nov. 15). I'm glad to see that you have given him the recognition he so well deserves.
I've seen Wichard play many times and he has the size, poise and great arm to make the pros. After watching all the top quarterbacks perform, I agree with Y. A. Tittle's statement, "He might have the best arm I've ever seen."
Glen Cove, N.Y.
As a student at C. W. Post, I can say that William Reed's quips about the campus environment are extremely accurate. In addition his analysis of Post football and Gary Wichard's prospects of becoming a pro was very aptly handled. All in all, a very perceptive and entertaining article.
THE SAPPORO SCENE
Thanks to SI and William Johnson for the great preview of the Winter Olympics at Sapporo (Go East, Young Olympian, Nov. 15). It is undoubtedly the most hilarious and entertaining article I've read in ages. Television and other entertainment ratings surely suffer at midweek when SI appears on the newsstands and in the mailbox.
CHARLES D. HEWITT
William Johnson's delightful description of Hokkaido, together with the facts regarding the 1972 Winter Games, was excellent. I was surprised to note that the island and its people have changed little since I was a visitor in Sapporo in late 1945. I can attest to the deep snows and cold, but I hardly expected the unpainted frame houses to remain unchanged. Our recreation consisted of shopping for carved bears and a visit to the communal steam baths in a resort hotel near Muroran.
FRANK H. BOOTH
THE RANGERS' PARK
Mark Mulvoy has done it again (Loitering in This Park Is Forbidden, Nov. 8)! Thanks so much for capturing the Bobby Orr of New York in action. The "new" New York Rangers, with the most potent line in the NHL—Vic Hadfield, Jean Ratelle and Rod Gilbert—have lifted themselves right to the top of the Eastern Division, ahead of those men from Montreal and those bad guys from Beantown.
Brad Park, the second greatest defenseman, is a hockey player and not a place in which to get mugged. The Rangers and Mr. Park will go all the way this year although it has been 30 years since a Stanley Cup has reached the Big City. The Montreal Canadiens have had it long enough.
Thanks for your article on Brad Park. I'm glad to see that he is finally getting the recognition he deserves. New Yorkers are beginning to realize that there is someone else in the city besides Willis Reed and Joe Namath.
Regarding your fine story, A Jump Ahead of Extinction (Nov. 8); if steeplechasing dies in America it will be because it has too much snob appeal here for the average sports fan. For it to survive there must be some strong efforts made to attract the interest of the $2 bettors. It isn't their fear of inconsistent performances by jumpers. They just don't associate themselves with a sport they feel belongs in society columns rather than on sports pages.
Maybe we can learn from the English and the Irish. There is great interest and participation in the sport by the common man in those countries.
Those of us who have been concerned with the rise of soccer in North America since 1966 are most grateful for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S report on the North American Soccer League. (Are We Finally Starting To Dig The World's Game? Oct. 4). William Grieve's subsequent letter in 19TH HOLE on the State of Washington's youth program and its 700-team exchange program with British Columbia points out the direction in which soccer is going. Youth programs such as these lead the way to more and more participation in high school, college and, eventually, NASL soccer. And there are many other programs in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Boston and Philadelphia, where more than 11,000 fans attended the recent Penn-Harvard game at Franklin Field.
Just one point of correction. Mr. Grieve took me to task for overstating the number of teams in the exchange program. In fact the figures quoted came from a colleague of Mr. Grieve's. Soccer doesn't exaggerate its growth figures; it doesn't need to.
North American Soccer League
New York City
WARM WINTER CAMPING
I don't know whether it was a case of Duxbak not selling or Gil Phillips not buying out there in New Mexico back in 1964 (There's No Place Like Foam, Nov. 8), but I can assure you that one or the other was missing the boat (or the foam).
Duxbak, a Utica, N.Y. firm in which I have no interest other than as a trusted name, is no newcomer to the field of sporting apparel. I don't know how long they've been in business, but I do know that my grandfather spoke of his Duxbak hunting coat and his favorite setter with almost the same reverence.
Duxbak has marketed insulated underwear in the form of polyurethane foam sandwiched between two layers of nylon cloth since at least 1960. I know, for I purchased a suit in that year and still am using it.
One of the more interesting things about this type of garment—something Pamela Knight did not mention—is that, while it will keep one warm in the predawn cold, it also will not become unbearably hot after the sun rises.
St. Petersburg Times
St. Petersburg, Fla.
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