For a long time I have enjoyed your excellent writer Curry Kirkpatrick and his articles on college basketball. His most recent, on UCLA (Who Are These Guys? Feb. 5), was the finest I have ever read. I am also glad to see both Mr. Kirkpatrick and your magazine among the few who recognize what a truly outstanding coach and man John Wooden is.
Sixty-one wins in a row, hah! Give John Wooden a real schedule. Give UCLA seven Atlantic Coast Conference games away from home. Send them to Chapel Hill, Raleigh, College Park, Durham, etc. Bring the Bruins to the ACC tournament. We'll match Tom McMillen or Tom Burleson against Bill Walton any day.
Curry Kirkpatrick's article was most interesting and entertaining. It's good to get the statistics, but it's equally good and important to get to know the real people.
As a 19-year-old college student at a big state university, I find Curry Kirkpatrick's portrayal of Bill Walton rather interesting. It is amusing in that Walton sounds like a typical college kid right off a television script destined for a new relevant show. It is also distressing that this "fun-loving teddy bear," so vehemently anti-war, will justify race war and murder. Add to these Walton's analysis of all people over 35, and a striking lack of maturity shows through.
I was upset by the article. You mentioned Keith Wilkes as a baby-faced, quiet, smooth and graceful junior forward. You also mentioned that Keith "will never receive the individual attention he deserves while playing at UCLA."
May I remind you that Keith is the second leading scorer on the nation's No. 1 team? If he doesn't get the attention he deserves it is because sportswriters like Curry Kirkpatrick don't give it to him.
Your reference to the "attitudes and outlook" of East Chicago, Ind., Pete Trgovich's hometown, is insidious. Honest reporting would dictate a clear definition of your interpretation of the attitudes and outlook of that area. Pete is also treated in a shabby manner. He is described as a "lank, bony ugly duckling." But Walton is "fun-loving, sincere, open-minded"; Curtis is "bright and articulate"; Wilkes is "intelligent"; Farmer is an "upstanding citizen," etc. It's a low blow to an unsuspecting young man.
As a spectator at the Notre Dame-UCLA game, I'd like to set the record straight on hatchets and reprimands. First, Pete Crotty needed to use karate as Walton "slugged and pushed back" and Farmer "opened up [Crotty's] nose with an elbow." Second, I suggest John Wooden read his own book more often and learn to reprimand his players when it is warranted. The antics of Larry Hollyfield on and off the court were bush in every sense of the word. C'mon, Curry, it takes two to fight a war.
Notre Dame, Ind.
It was good to see Peter Carry give recognition to the two best basketball teams in the NBA (Oh, the Knicks Have the Knack, Feb. 5). Some people are just now beginning to believe that the Celtics are for real. Boston has the most exciting team in the league and New Englanders are showing their appreciation. The Celtics and the Knicks both have beaten Los Angeles and Milwaukee in games this year, which leads many people to believe that the NBA championship will be decided in a Knicks-Celtics playoff series this spring. We Boston fans know that this will be the first of many seasons in which the Celtics will be strong contenders for the title.
The Celtics may have the better record, but the Knicks, because of their experience, will be the team to beat come playoff time.
CHRIS D' ANGELO
There is no doubt that the closest and most exciting race in the NBA is taking place in the East and, with a little luck, the Boston Celtics just might pull it off. One man who has paced them, led them and almost become ageless and immortal is John Havlicek, a survivor of the Red Auerbach era.
But even if the Celtics get past New York in the East, they have a bigger and better obstacle to overcome in the West. The fact is, the Los Angeles Lakers have blown apart the Western Division (without the services of one of the best rebounders in the league, Happy Hairston) because the others couldn't keep the pace. It looks as though the Celtics and the Lakers will be meeting for the crown this year. You can bet the incomparable Mr. Clutch, Jerry West, will be looking for Mr. Havlicek and the Celtics. And don't be surprised if Bill Sharman has a huge cigar to light up when Boston comes to town. After all, the Lakers are the best in the West—and probably the East.
LEE E. FRANCIS
In general, Peter Carry's article on the Knicks was excellent. But I must disagree with the statement that New York won because Boston was unable to control Walt Frazier. Dave DeBusschere was a major factor. His inside and outside shooting, rebounding and rugged defense were exceptional even for him. Willis Reed is rapidly-regaining his full effectiveness. Although Frazier is indeed an extremely talented player, he was not the sole reason for the Knick victories.
REBIRTH OF A SPECIES
It is heartening to learn of the success of the Arabian oryx in its new Arizona habitat (Oryx from Unicorns Grow, Feb. 5). One may only hope that man will become wiser in his dealings with such species. Perhaps it is time that we recognize the true meaning of the word sport. The case of the slaughtering of the oryx with tommy guns does not reflect the values of the vast majority of hunters. Such indiscriminate, senseless killing remains a shameful crime against not only the animal but against man himself.
Thank you for telling us the story of the oryx. Perhaps if we continue to use the neglected tool of international cooperation, such injustices in the name of sport may be avoided in the future.
WILLIAM R. KSZYSTYNIAK
MORE THAN YANKEE DOODLING
The World Hockey Association was delighted to see SI's Feb. 5 story The Yanks Are Coming. It is no small source of pride that our league is leading the way in the current infusion of fine U.S. players in professional hockey. Mike Antonovich, Mike Curran, Bobby Sheehan and Larry Pleau are the forerunners of what we feel will be an increasing wave of U.S. competitors in both leagues. This is one of the most gratifying results that can come to a new professional sports league and was one of our original goals in expanding the horizons and appeal of the game.
GARY L. DAVIDSON
World Hockey Association
Santa Ana, Calif.
William Leggett's article (Now Half the Nines Are Tens, Jan. 22) on the designated-pinch-hitter rule was a gas! His clever but incisive look at the situation delves into just a few of the many wild situations that designated pinch hitters will bring to staid old baseball.
Like many people, I have mixed emotions on the DPH, but there's this gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach about going to Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis this summer to watch guys like Al Santorini go 0 for 4 while across the state in Royals Stadium John Mayberry is rapping two or three homers for Dick Drago, who is throwing a two-hit shutout.
My reaction to baseball's designated pinch hitter may be hasty and emotional, but I believe that the American League executives have erred badly. They have damaged the game's charm and drama to gain a few runs to mollify critics who are incapable of appreciating the factors that set baseball apart from other sports.
William Leggett's article neglected to mention the fact that the new rule will mean the loss of many exciting and interesting situations: the ninth-inning pinch hitter trying to win the game or, better yet, break up a no-hit game; the pitcher breezing along with a shutout who loses his stuff after a long stint on the base paths. Will the manager lift his ace, trailing by one run, or let him bat for himself?
Gone, too, from the AL will be that fascinating speculation about which pinch hitter is best in a particular situation. What is more, the rare moments of success when a pitcher did hit were well worth the wait. I saw Earl Wilson win his own no-hitter with a home run. I saw Jim Lonborg bunt the Red Sox to a pennant, and I saw Sonny Siebert outhit the Orioles all by himself. Those games would have been far less memorable with a DPH.
One of the beauties of baseball is the way it exposes each player's weaknesses. Now the pitcher is exempt, along with one hitter who won't have to reveal that he can't make the throw from right anymore. Next it will be nine Harmon Killebrews hitting to nine Mark Belangers, with the bases loaded up with Allan Lewises. In the meantime the critics that Bowie Kuhn and his friends are trying so hard to please will be watching football, and the once great game of baseball will become a well-played, high-scoring bore.
Baseball has often unjustifiably been called a boring game. Certainly the weak hitters at the bottom of the order, including the pitcher, have been a dull part of the sport. The American League decision to have a permanent substitute hitter for the pitcher was a fantastic solution to this problem. I suggest, however, that the fans would like to see an even bolder step taken. This would be to eliminate the nine spot completely. Thus the fans would see each of the eight regular players more often, including the star hitters who provide the most excitement in baseball.
Whatever the reasons for the new designated-pinch-hitter rule in the American League, this much is clear: the all-round athlete, the rare good-hitting pitcher, is being needlessly and unfairly penalized. Much of the managerial strategy surrounding the question "to yank or not to yank" is also wiped out. I can see the trend now: big strike bowlers teamed with pinch spare-makers, long-hitting golfers with assistants who specialize in putting, etc. I am not really old enough to remember football teams that played both offense and defense, and I suppose the DPH will one day be accepted as readily as the two-platoon system, but aren't the people who generate such changes overlooking the value of the all-round athlete? Is this what sport is all about?
MICHAEL G. WALSH
As an American League diehard I wonder why William Leggett failed to mention the primary reason the National League didn't adopt the designated-pinch-hitter rule. The National League moguls obviously wanted to wait until Henry Aaron passes Babe Ruth's home-run record before giving the DPH a try. They did not want to risk the criticism that would certainly arise if Aaron had the obvious advantages of swinging as a DPH. It goes without saying that baseball does not want to put another asterisk in the record book when its greatest record is broken.
Thanks to Peter Carry for his fine article on the Baltimore Bullets (These Bullets Have Caliber, Jan. 29). Gene Shue has done a great job since the days of the Monroe, Loughery, Johnson and Marin outfit of a few years back. I have followed the Bullets for a long time and I think this year's team can beat both the Bucks and the Lakers. Also, no one is happier about the Bullets' move to the D.C. area than I. What a team. With the Redskins plus the Bullets and, in two years, a National Hockey League franchise, the future certainly looks bright for us long-suffering D.C. fans. Eat your heart out, Bob Short.
Except for Phil Chenier, Peter Carry covered the starting five pretty well. But he didn't say a word about the Bullet depth. For instance, Stan Love not only has a deadly jumper but can beat Wilt Chamberlain to the hoop better than any other second-year forward. Dave Stallworth is good for eight points on any night, and John Tresvant saved us in 1971. We have Rich Rinaldi, who can bomb like Jerry Lucas. And of course there is Kevin Porter, the rookie who did such a terrific job in Archie Clark's absence.
It was a pleasant surprise to see an article about the much-ignored Carolina Cougars (Home Is Where the Hoop Is, Jan. 22). Your description of Head Coach Larry Brown was perfect; he is a "knockout in cut velvet." The Cougars have really been playing great basketball this year. From Bill C. to little Mack Calvin, they are the Big Green Machine.
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