THE LAKERS' LEADER
Many people think Pat Riley is a cocky, arrogant man, but Kenny Moore's article (Not Just A Pretty Face, Oct. 28) disproved that myth and also pointed out what a terrific basketball mind Riley has. In each of his first four seasons as head coach the Lakers have gone to the NBA finals. As perhaps the biggest Laker fan in Massachusetts, I may be a little biased, but I feel it is a shame that a man who has accomplished this in a day and age of super talent in the NBA, and done it with a team made up of so many different personalities, has never been named Coach of the Year. Maybe at the end of the 1985-86 season, when the Lakers become the first team in 17 years to repeat for the title, people will finally realize what a champion Riley really is.
No wonder the Lakers had the upper hand in beating the Celtics last year! Take another look at Michael Cooper holding Danny Ainge on page 67 of your Oct. 28 issue and Riley handling Scott Wedman on page 85.
Incidentally, there will be no repeat championship for L.A., because the banner will be brought back to Boston!
ARMANDO G. LLORENTE
I have been thinking about Patrick Ewing's trouble with fighting (The Year Of Ewing, Oct. 28). In his college days, Ewing claimed the key as his domain, and nobody could challenge him. But now that Patrick is in the bigs, the price for the key is much higher. Against stronger and bigger athletes, Ewing is in store for a long, hard season.
East Lyme, Conn.
In answer to Jack McCallum's question, "Are there any guards on [the Dallas Mavericks]?" (Scouting Reports, Oct. 28), allow me to ask him a question: Did you watch the NBA All-Star Game last season? The Mays' Rolando Blackman is one of the game's premier guards: he averaged nearly 20 points per game in '84-85 while providing coach Dick Motta with a defensive leader. Gosh, Jack, Ro has even been on SI's cover—when he played for Kansas State (March 23, 1981).
I should also mention Brad Davis and Derek Harper, both above-average point guards. They complete what has become a very balanced and solid basketball team. Now maybe you'll rethink that lowly fourth-place prediction.
The Sudanese Swatter, as Jack McCallum calls him, or Manute (Basket) Bol, as he is better known, is not a member of a "flying circus." He is for real. A few more pounds and some playing time with the Washington Bullets will show the rest of America what we in the Bridgeport, Conn. area already know—Bol can play the game.
Jack McCallum's scouting report on the Atlantic Division was very accurate, except for one thing. There is no way the Bullets will finish ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers. I don't care if they do have a player who is 7'7", they still will not get by Julius Erving, Charles Barkley, Moses Malone and friends. Washington will be lucky if it gets by the Nets. Washington needs more than Manute Bol.
THINKING TOO BIG?
While I admire Manute Bol's efforts to play in the NBA (Welcome To "Air Bol" Oct. 21 and Pro Basketball 1985-86, Oct. 28), I think he illustrates a key problem with the pro game. It is getting to the point where a normal-sized player, no matter how talented, has no place in the game, but any big man, regardless of his skills, can find a place at the game's highest level. "You can't teach height," pro coaches say, so they scour the world for giants and teach them the rudiments of the game. At the same time, smaller players with magnificent skills—Ricky Stokes is one example—are rarely given a chance. And what is the pro game becoming? Mountainous lunks banging each other under the boards and slam-dunking. Big deal! I propose that the NBA limit each team to 32 feet 6 inches of height on the floor at anyone time.
Jack McCallum couldn't have put it better when he said, "This is the Twilight Zone." A player with more blocked shots than points or rebounds? Manute Madness it is, and I'm all for it. I will be interested to see and read more about this 91-inch monster.
Jaime Diaz's article on Sidney Moncrief, He's Good All Over (Oct. 28), was exceptional, but long overdue. Moncrief has been one of the very best guards in the NBA for years. Still, Diaz captured the true colors of Moncrief beautifully. He is a class athlete and a class person.
I take exception to Jill Lieber's Oct. 21 EXTRA POINTS item naming the University of Tennessee as the premier producer of NFL wide receivers. Granted, Stanley Morgan and Willie Gault are showstoppers, but where do you go from there? I submit for your NFL player-personnel wizards' reconsideration: Cris Collinsworth, Wes Chandler, Tyrone Young, Nat Moore and Derrick Gaffney, all former Florida Gators. All good receivers. And don't forget James Jones of the Lions, a fullback who led the team in '84 with 77 catches (fourth in receiving in the NFC). Combined, these players pulled in 284 balls for more than 3,800 yards last year.
WAYNE F. SEBESTA
Orange Park, Fla.
Those NFL personnel men who said that Tennessee is the best college at producing receivers ought to take a look at Florida State. In the last three years FSU has produced Weegie Thompson (Steelers), Dennis McKinnon (Bears), Jessie Hester (Raiders) and tight end Zeke Mowatt (Giants). And there are more on the way, led by Hassan Jones.
EXTRA POINTS notes the colleges that best prepare football players for the NFL; however, there is no mention of which school best prepares kickers. The answer to that question, I believe, lies at the bottom of the same page, where Lieber lists the top 10 most accurate active field-goal kickers. Three of them—Mick Luckhurst (No. 2), Jim Breech (No. 4) and Ray Wersching (No. 8)—are from the University of California.
RATING THE PASSER
In the article Coming On Strong—And Smart (Oct. 14), Paul Zimmerman listed Dan Marino's statistics for the game and stated that according to the NFL's rating formula, he wound up with a grade of 57.36.1 often see this grade used to rate quarterbacks, but I have never seen the formula that is used to get it. I would like to know just what the formula is and how it was arrived at.
DOUGLAS R. MINSHELL
•The grade, which pertains only to a quarterback's passing performance, is based on a set of four tables of numbers—ranging from 0 to 2.375—that were predetermined by the NFL to correspond with a quarterback's percentages (or average) in four key categories: pass completions, touchdown passes, interceptions and yards gained per pass. In order to determine a quarterback's grade, statisticians must first figure his completion percentage by dividing his completed passes by his total passes. They must then refer to the appropriate table to find the number assigned to that percentage. For example, 30% or fewer completions rate 0.000, while 77.5% or more earn the passer 2.375 points. The same procedure must be followed three more times—taking the quarterback's touchdown percentage (Total Touchdown Passes √∑ Total Passes), his interception percentage (Total Interceptions Thrown √∑ Total Passes) and his average yards per pass (Total Yards Gained Passing √∑ Total Passes) and matching them to the tables. In each of these categories, the ratings again range from zero points (for no touchdowns, 9.5% or more interceptions or an average of three yards per pass or less) to 2.375 points (for 11.9% touchdowns or better, no interceptions or 12.5 yards or more per pass). The rating points for the four categories are then added and the sum converted to a scale of 100, where 6.000 equals 100 and 4.000 is considered average (Total Rating Points √∑ .06). The result is the quarterback's grade, which, theoretically, can range all the way up to 158.3. According to Steve Hirdt of the Elias Sports Bureau, which handles the NFL's statistics, last season Marino had about as good a performance as a quarterback can have, and his final grade was 108.9. A grade of 100 is considered excellent. Marino's 57.36 for the Steeler game would be considered below average (the theoretical average is 66.7). Unfortunately, the NFL tables, which were formulated after a study was made of all NFL passing performances dating back to 1960, are too lengthy for us to reproduce here.—ED.
Anyone who has followed baseball this season should know who Vince Coleman is. However, it seems Coleman has given us and his opponents a clue to his identity, just in case. From the picture on page 46 of your Oct. 21 issue (Surrender Just Wasn't In The Cards) it appears that Vince's initials are on his right arm for Dodger first baseman Greg Brock to see. Was SI just trying to send us a subliminal message, or has Coleman actually had his initials tattooed on his right arm?
BROOKE C. ASBELL
•Coleman's arm is tattooed.—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.