I have been a diligent SI follower for years, but I cannot remember a better feature than the Oct. 28 one on pro basketball, especially John Underwood's article on John Havlicek (The Green Running Machine). Being a New Yorker temporarily displaced in Massachusetts, I know what Hondo is. He is the man all Knick fans hate, despise and fear; but at the same time we all respect him. He is a fan's ballplayer, giving 110% all the time. Players like Havlicek make basketball what it is today—No. 1.
RICHARD D. GOLDSTEIN
What more can be said about Hondo than that he is the best player in NBA history? Defensively, offensively and off the court as well, he is a perfect example of what every person playing basketball longs to be.
Sugar Notch, Pa.
John Havlicek epitomizes Boston Celtic basketball. However, let's not confuse him with Billy Graham. Despite Coach Bobby Knight's convenient little story, the real reason for Indiana's consolation-game victory over Providence in the 1973 NCAA basketball tournament was not John Havlicek's high-powered 20-word exhortation, but Marvin Barnes' injured knee.
Sea Girt, N.J.
I resent John Underwood's statement that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will be replaced in the future, whereas there will never be another John Havlicek. Kareem is the greatest player the game has ever known. He will never be replaced or duplicated.
How about this for a super new cereal with more energy than Wheat Chex, Rice Chex, Corn Chex or anything else? Call it Havlicek's. It would be No. 1, just like Hondo.
MRS. LEO R. POKORNY
Lawton, Ok la.
BEATING THE 3-8
Jim Plunkett's is the latest voice to call for abolition of the 3-8 defense (SCORECARD, Oct. 28). Admittedly this sophisticated defense limits the capabilities of even a brilliant passer like Mr. Plunkett. But instead of banning the defense, why not open the offense even further by designating tackles as eligible pass receivers?
On obvious passing downs, sure-handed tight ends and backs would play out of the tackle positions. Since on third and 20 the defense is already thinking pass, the element of surprise is negated. The center, guards and blocking back should be able to handle the blocking, and the eligible tackles could make quick blocks before running their patterns. The quarterback should thus receive adequate protection, considering that it should take him less time to find an open man among the increased number of receivers.
The eligible tackle would really open up the passing game, providing for seven receivers and eight potential scorers. The sophisticated 3-8 defense and the zone defenses would have to undergo some changes. But this would not give an overwhelming advantage to the offense. A strong but iron-handed tackle would still have a better chance of blocking a Claude Humphrey or a Carl Eller. Yet the provision for an eligible tackle would be most useful on long yardage. Even if the eligible tackles weren't used as primary receivers, they still would allow the elusive wide receivers to break free.
DAVID A. GAMBILL
For Sportsman of the Year,
All must now agree:
There's no better choice
Than Muhammad Ali.
Re your article on Sonny Jurgensen (Ancient Age and His Pal Whisky, Oct. 28), it's about time he got credit for his efficiency and accuracy throughout his 18 years of pro football. Having Jurgensen and Billy Kilmer as No. 1 and No. 2 quarterbacks is one of the best setups in NFL history.
Congratulations to Dan Jenkins on his fantastic article, but there is one point I think he missed. "Sonny" doesn't fit. It ought to be "Gramps."
No. 9 has not had a "bumpy career." He's had an incredible career on teams with bumpy defenses, part-time pass-blocking and nonexistent running games. Sonny doesn't like "to win 41-40, throwing 50 passes." He has had to win 41-40 or lose—that is, until now.
Despite his shoulder, his heel, his knee and his coach, Jurgensen has managed to start and play through 10 games for the George Allen Redskins, four of them pressure contests against the Cowboys and world champion Dolphins. His age and the rust attendant upon his coming in cold in the middle of the season notwithstanding, Jurgensen has turned eight of those games into Washington victories. Did teams led by the young Bart Starr, John Unitas or Len Dawson, who played most of their careers with solid support, do better?
EDWARD C. APPEL
In the Oct. 28 SCORECARD your opening item "Halls of Shame" implied that St. Xavier High School had such a hall. In the original article by Jim Bolus and Larry Barnes in the Courier-Journal we stated that the incident referred to was an isolated one that did not reflect school policy. This was not included in your article. Nor did you mention that both the coach and I apologized for the action.
Unfortunately, a coach who usually evinces great respect for his students made a mistake. I think it is a disservice to the school and to athletics if an isolated error by a teacher or coach becomes grounds for such publicity.
BROTHER JOHN WILLS, CFX
St. Xavier High School
Having viewed 26 Oakland home games from the left-field bleachers, I want to compliment Ron Fimrite on his valid characterization of the A's as clowns. In Shakespeare's comedies and tragedies the clowns are universally respected as the only gents who consistently see, speak and act upon the truth. With three consecutive world championships, the clowns in Oakland must also have a corner on something.
The item "Confusion in the Crease" (SCORECARD, Oct. 14) carried an erroneous and totally misleading statement that we at Hockey Night in Canada feel should be brought to your attention and publicly corrected. It stated in part that TV's commercial insertion requirements influenced the NHL to reject the "speed-up" rules tested experimentally during the NHL's recent exhibition season. Not so.
While we have no authorization to speak on behalf of NBC, it is a fact that HNIC and NBC have been (and continue to be) vigorous lobbyists for changes that would significantly reduce the total amount of time required to play a game, and this attitude is shared by the various TV independents who carry NHL, games on a local basis in the United States.
In three preseason test runs of games played in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, HNIC had no difficulty whatsoever inserting commercials under the experimental rules, and each of these games was played in less than two hours and 15 minutes.
To the best of our knowledge, the decision not to implement the rules changes was not influenced in any way by either the networks or the independents. Any changes that will speed up play and at the same time reduce total telecast time would be beneficial both in terms of increased viewer interest and reduced network costs. We assure you, we're for both.
Since SI prides itself on the accuracy of its reporting, and since TV is often unjustly accused on the role it plays in the conduct of various sporting events, all of the above is to set the record straight.
FRANK D. SELKE
Director, Marketing and Promotion
Hockey Night in Canada
FOR SPORTS SAKE (CONT.)
I wish to respond to your glib denunciation of India's recent refusal to play South Africa in the Davis Cup finals (SCORECARD, Oct. 14). "Sport and politics should not mix" is a noble sentiment, but over and over again its practical application has meant the support of a usually elitist or repressive status quo against athletes and others struggling for greater freedom and opportunity. South African sport is a case in point.
You suggest that if taken to its logical conclusion, the South African boycott means that capitalists would not play Communists, Catholics would not play Protestants and so on. India has refused to play South Africa not because of different class or religious characteristics, but because of something more basic: the rights of man. In South Africa, black, "colored" and Asian athletes are prohibited by law from competing against whites in all domestic competitions. Whatever their records in practice, both capitalist and Communist regimes, Catholic and Protestant, support the principle of equal opportunity regardless of racial origin. It's a crucial difference.
You suggest that change will more likely-come about through tours by prominent black athletes. But what little change has come about there has come about as a result of boycotts such as India's, not cooperative tours like Arthur Ashe's.
The great joy in sport is in the doing, and so it's never easy for athletes to withdraw from competition, particularly one with the challenge and prestige of the Davis Cup. But sport is also a code of ethics, depending for its survival upon a carefully elaborated set of rules mutually determined and respected by the participants themselves. Sport ceases to be sport when we enter competitions against those who deny the opportunity of sportsmanship to others.
I am a member of a group of Canadian athletes that is trying to convince sports-governing bodies not to grant international permits for Canadian athletes to compete in South Africa until such time as all domestic South African sport is completely integrated. The principled stand of the Indian tennis players is an example for us all.
A few weeks ago on Sunday afternoon late in the first half I turned on my television to watch Sonny Jurgensen do his thing. He did not disappoint me—completing three straight passes for a touchdown with seconds to spare. Three perfectly executed plays.
Then, to my horror, a rather unattractive (to me) nasal female voice, obviously one of the so-called "color men," uttered the following timeworn cliché, "They always say that there is no defense against a perfect pass." Frankly, this completely spoiled what could have been a very pleasant afternoon.
In the first place, although I think that women should be permitted out of the kitchen, I see no reason for them cluttering up a sport like football. In fact, CBS is outstanding in seeming to forget that television is a picture and that the days of Graham Crackers and radio are over, and that the viewing audience needs little, if any, motor mouth from so-called experts explaining the obvious.
It has been bad enough to suffer through uninformed announcers and commentators in golf, at which CBS is outstandingly bad, but now we get a woman covering football. What next?
ROBERT C. FISHER
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