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Original Issue


"Pro basketball would be better if referees enforced the rules for traveling, palming and the like instead of ignoring them in the name of showmanship."

Decline of the NBA
In your NHL versus NBA analysis (Hot Not, June 20), you forgot to mention the timeout, one reason why I no longer watch NBA games. Hockey teams are allowed one timeout per game, and many coaches don't even use it. Watch the last two minutes of a close NHL game, and you see two minutes of solid, high-intensity action, interrupted only by an occasional icing, offsides or trapped puck after a great save, with no time for commercials.

Watch the final two minutes of an NBA game, and you get at least six timeouts. This means one on every possession, and sometimes two if an inbounding player can't figure out to whom to pass, something that the coach explained during the last timeout. Of course, many timeouts are followed by at least two 30-second commercials. All this drains games of drama.

Solution: Cut the number of timeouts in the NBA to three per team per half, and allow only one timeout per team during the last three minutes of regulation. Follow the NHL's example, and let the players play.
JAY FROST, Greenfield, Mass.

Something else the NHL has over the NBA is the penalty shot, as seen in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals. What could be better than Pavel Bure facing Mike Richter one-on-one? Hakeem Olajuwon and Spike Lee going one-on-one in a taunting match? No way.

If there's one thing hurting the NBA, it's that the players have become too big for the court. The defense can overwhelm the offense because the court is too small for today's players.
EVERETT LEE, Holden Beach, N.C.

The No. 1 reason that the NBA is not hot is inconsistent officiating, but the blame lies not with the officials but with the league that oversees them. The NBA has developed a product that nurtures superstars, and it strives to have fans leave the arena happy, with a victory by the home team. It's clear that certain stars receive preferential treatment, and favoritism for the home team benefits the league because it generally ensures that playoff series go the limit, thus generating greater revenues.
PAUL J. SOLTYS, Lake Zurich, Ill.

The NBA has been on a free fall for years, hastened by the departures of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird as well as by taunting, trash talking, and mauling that masquerades as defense.
WARREN SWANSON, Redding, Calif.

How can you claim that the NBA is not hot when all seven games of this year's finals were decided by fewer than 10 points? Uglyball or not, the two best teams gave everything they had and kept every game close. For a real sports fan, it was exciting to watch.

Teaming Up
The Captains of the Princeton men's and women's lacrosse teams were profiled in your May 23 SPORTS PEOPLE. Both went on to lead their teams to national titles. Since the NCAA began sponsoring women's championships in the early 1980s, the men's and women's teams from the same Division I school have won national championships in the same sport in the same academic year on 15 occasions. However, until Princeton swept both lacrosse titles this spring, the feat had never been accomplished in any of the true team sports (baseball/softball, basketball, soccer and volleyball are the others), in which the team score is not based on a collection of individual performances.
MIKE JACKMAN, Princeton, N.J.




Letters to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and should be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020-1393.