ESPN'S DICK VITALE
William Taaffe's May 14 TV/RADIO article on Dick Vitale was a joy to read. I've been asking DV to turn down the volume for what seems like an eternity. Vitale is the Howard Cosell of the NBA, and Taaffe was correct in saying, "You either love him or loathe him." Well, DV, it's the LC (Loathe Column) for this FV (Fed-up Viewer).
Count me among those who "loathe" Dick Vitale. Every time this loud analyst opens his mouth, he shows his lack of knowledge and makes me want to turn off the volume control, never mind turning it down.
ESPN has given Dick Vitale a new three-year contract? Agghhh!
In my opinion, Dick Vitale has a very unusual and entertaining style that most people like. As a coach, I've had many conversations with him about the game of basketball and found him extremely knowledgeable. To intimate that he's primarily an entertainer rather than an analyst is wrong. I don't know of anyone who's any better at analyzing the game than Dick.
ARNOLD (RED) AUERBACH
President and General Manager
I cry foul when Taaffe claims that Dick Vitale is remiss in his duties by being more of an entertainer than an analyst. This is DV's nature, as he freely admits in the article, and it's essential to his effectiveness. I feel DV gives the viewer just enough insight—and then barrages him with his self-designed lingo and verbosity. Besides, only Vitale's boyish and ebullient personality could make ESPN's endless reruns of college and pro basketball worth watching! Turn up the volume, and rack up a big W for Dick Vitale!
JOHN G. TROTTA
Many thanks for alerting the SI audience to what a lot of us Tristan Jones fans knew already: The little Welshman is the quintessential old salt, a superb writer of nautical adventure, a man of great wit and erudition and a human being of the highest order (A New Voyage for an Old Salt, May 14).
I've been a subscriber for nearly 30 years, and whenever I think of letting my subscription lapse, along comes a great piece like Ray Kennedy's on Jones or Frank Deford's The Toughest Coach There Ever Was (April 30). Quality writing. Fascinating people.
Jamestown, N. Dak.
THE KNICKS' KING
Congratulations to Bruce Newman for his outstanding article on Bernard King and the New York Knickerbockers (Hero of a Showdown in Motown, May 7). Being seniors at the University of Tennessee and King fans, We were particularly delighted to see "His Royal Highness" get the attention and recognition we believe has been long overdue. Since his freshman year at Tennessee, when he averaged 26.4 points and 12.3 rebounds a game, those of us who follow Volunteer basketball have known that Bernard was headed for greatness. His magnificent performance during the Knicks' playoff series with the Pistons illustrated the type of basketball King is capable of playing. Only Larry Bird of the Celtics deserves as much credit for his one-man contribution to his team, but King gets our votes as the NBA's Player of the Year.
After looking at your May 7 cover and story on Bernard King, I have one simple question to ask: If King "raises the game to a new level," where does Larry Bird take it?
St. Clair Shores, Mich.
SOUTH AFRICA'S BUDDING TRACK STAR
I've been looking forward to reading mail on Peter Hawthorne and Kenny Moore's article on running sensation Zola Budd (A Flight to a Stormy Haven, April 9), but to my dismay, none has so far appeared. Recently, Zola's situation has been newsworthy. Protesters flocked to a recent meet and chanted obscenities because of her presence in England. It's unfortunate that Zola's original homeland, South Africa, is racially divided, but treating her—an innocent athlete—in such a manner is sad. I'll back Zola in the Olympics if she becomes eligible. She's a class act and doesn't deserve the political garbage that has been thrust upon her.
Like many people in South Africa, Zola Budd is a victim of political forces beyond her control. I have sympathy for this innocent 17-year-old, but I have much more sympathy for the black 17-year-olds I knew as a Peace Corps volunteer in Lesotho, an independent nation surrounded by South Africa. While Zola's dilemma is one concerning mere fame and glory, theirs is one of survival and human dignity. For every Zola Budd, how many black South Africans are born with talent only to have it strangled by apartheid? How many potential Sydney Marees have been crushed by South Africa's racist policies?
OLYMPIC LICENSE PLATES
We appreciated the mention of California's 1984 Olympic Games License Plate in the March 5 feature (Ready to Play, Sam?) by Ken Reich on the Los Angeles Olympic Games. However, we're at a loss to understand whence came the statement, "...state officials have lowered their sales projections from 50,000 to 20,000." We're concerned about a possible lack of public interest induced by this statement. I've directed this program for the Department of Motor Vehicles since its inception early in 1983. We set our goal at 50,000 plate sets and have maintained that target. Plates were first released to the public on Feb. 15, and by the end of April, 13,000 plate sets had been sold.
Proceeds from the $l00-a-set plates are split by law—approximately $65 to help defray Games-related state and local law enforcement and traffic control expenses (including those of the L.A. County sheriff), $25 to the state's environmental fund, and $10 to cover manufacturing and administrative costs and to amortize repayment of $200,000, advanced under the statute, to the Office of Tourism. Unlike the various other products bearing the LAOOC symbols, these plates are the product of a nonprofit operation.
ALVIN J. LIVINGSTON
Chief Deputy Director
Department of Motor Vehicles
ANOTHER STYLE SETTER
Allow me to respond to the letter from Joseph Malik of Berwyn, Ill. (19TH HOLE, May 7) concerning "properly baggy" plus fours. He remarked that Billy Casper committed a "no-no" by having a crease in them and stated, "They should be baggy baggy."
Earlier that week my mother had gone through old copies of her theater programs. In the playbill for New York's Liberty Theatre for the week of April 9, 1923 (George M. Cohan's Little Nellie Kelly was playing), there was an article called "What the Man Will Wear," signed BEAUNASH. In it there was a section about plus fours, from which I quote:
"A great fillip to the vogue of plus-four knickerbockers has been given by the Prince of Wales, who wears them with pleats at the waistband and a crease down the centre of the leg. This looks undeniably spruce, even if it does seem like 'putting on a lot of side' for the sports."
How can Billy Casper be wrong when the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII and the Duke of Windsor) wore a crease?
ROY E. KRUSE JR.
•Last week SI gathered together as many pictures as our staffers could locate—30-odd—of the former Prince of Wales in plus fours, only to find that if he wore a crease in them at all, it apparently was at the side of the leg. The photograph shown here was taken in August 1923 at the French resort of Le Touquet.—ED.
Letters should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.