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Original Issue


Chris Webber is an arrogant punk. He's the epitome of everything
that is wrong with the NBA.


As a Chris Webber fan, I enjoyed your article about his new life
in Sacramento (A Whole New Rap, April 12). Despite the infamous
timeout in the NCAA final and his problems with the law, he has
turned his life around.
JEFFREY MORRIS, Atherton, Calif.

Surely you can find a more worthy subject for a feature than a
man who claims to stand for something and has made a career out
of doing exactly the opposite. Webber has no credibility. Enough
searching for a heartwarming story in pro basketball--there
probably isn't one.
TIMOTHY DE WITT, Clinton, Okla.


The assertion in INSIDE BASEBALL (April 12) that Washington,
D.C., is not worthy of a major league baseball franchise because
of the attendance at two exhibition games is both misguided and
insulting. Those of us who live in or near the nation's capital
have suffered through nearly 30 years of dashed hopes and broken
promises. In exactly how many prospective season tickets,
old-timers' games and overpriced exhibitions must we invest
before Washington is again considered a big league town?
JAIME WRIGHT, Indian Head, Md.

Jeff Pearlman reports that "only" 50,577 fans showed up at RFK
Stadium to watch two Cardinals-Expos exhibition games and that
conditions at the ballpark were substandard. What he failed to
mention were tickets that were expensive ($45 top price) and a
promotion so limp that many fans learned about the games only
after they had been played. Let me also point out that the Expos
failed to draw 51,000 for any three-game series in Montreal last
year. Moreover, it's unfair to expect D.C. to have first-class
baseball facilities when it doesn't yet have a team.


I had little interest in golf before reading Gary Smith's
article on David Duval (No Man Is an Island, April 12) because I
viewed golfers as pretty boys with minimal athletic ability and
less charisma. Golfers seemed like members of an elitist group
who never had to sweat, endure, overcome or conquer. Smith's
article changed my opinion. I now have someone to cheer for.

While what happened to Duval as a child was a tragedy, thousands
of people around the world suffer through equally devastating
events every day. What happened to him doesn't make Duval
special, nor does it excuse his behavior.
S. GRANT, Burlington, Vt.

Nothing is more appalling to me than the concept of golf as a
sport, but even I was able to take something positive away from
this article.
TIM NAULT, Juneau, Alaska

One of my ninth-grade English students stopped me before class
today to show me your April 12 issue because he had noticed Gary
Smith's name on the cover. Smith was brought to my attention by
our librarian after his story about Jamila Wideman appeared in
your magazine (Out of the Shadows, March 17, 1997). I was so
impressed that I read the story aloud to my class. Next my
students were looking on the Internet to find more articles by
Smith, and one of them was inspired to become a writer thanks to
him. I've not found another author who has aroused as much
JILL SIANO, Mukilteo, Wash.

Duval comes across as a churlish, self-centered brat badly in
need of a spanking. His brand of self-absorption belongs more in
the NBA. Give me a champion with the grace of a Mark O'Meara,
not this current crop of sullen egotists.
PAUL SMITH, Moraga, Calif.

After reading your article, my husband and I gained new insight
into the young man we met and watched in 1992 and '93, when he
played for Georgia Tech. Back then David was hard, hateful and
unpleasant. Over the years we have watched him change. The man
who helped him see the importance of things unseen was his
coach, Puggy Blackmon. He's the true hero.

Reading Gary Smith is like reading no one else. He's the Mark
McGwire of the SI staff. His portrayal of Duval was fascinating,
gripping and unforgettable. Every time he picks up his pen, he
slugs another homer.

Thanks for the peek inside those mirrored shades and showing us
a side of the man that television never shows.
BILLY ALLEN, Nashville

Smith's article attempts to link Duval's current behavior and
attitudes to events from his childhood. Neither Duval nor any
other athlete deserves to be made the subject of such
psychobabble. It's acceptable to report on events from his past
and make observations about his current behavior but not to
overstep by trying to connect the two. Parenthetically, I have
met many physicians, social workers and other professionals who
have told me that the loss of a sibling actually led them to
reach out to others rather than to withdraw.
LOUIS B. MEYERS, Alexandria, Va.


Richard Hoffer took a dramatic Opening Day game between the
Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers and turned it
into an editorial on the salaries of Randy Johnson and Kevin
Brown (Money Pitchers, April 12). Raul Mondesi's homers to tie
the game in the ninth and win it in the 11th received one
sentence, while the rest of the article focused on whether Brown
and Johnson earned their pay. I wonder who is more hung up on
money: athletes or the journalists who cover them.
JUSTIN CRANDALL, Dowagiac, Mich.


I have been watching hockey for going on 40 years, and I
chuckled at your suggestion that the controversy over the crease
in the NHL could be solved by shrinking it (INSIDE HOCKEY, April
12). Doing that would create a crease close to the dimensions of
the one I remember from my youth. What hockey needs is not a
return to the old crease but a return to the old referee who had
to make--and live with--decisions. He won't always be right, but
he'll always be the boss, and the complaining will stop.
CHUCK HALL, Gloucester, Mass.

You made some interesting points regarding the NHL crease rule,
but you failed to address one issue: Many times fans are left
hanging after an exciting goal because it has to be confirmed by
the video goal judge. The fans' right to cheer without fear of a
reversal has been removed.


I want to thank Rick Reilly for his column reminding us of the
truly important things in life (THE LIFE OF REILLY, April 12).
Before I read the article, I had been griping to a coworker that
because of my kids' soccer games, basketball games and Girl
Scouts camping trips, I had no life left. Reilly reminded me
that those things are what make life worth living. Thanks for
the attitude adjustment.
DAVID SANDERS, Westwood, Kans.

Reilly's column made me realize how lucky I was to have a father
who shared his love of life with his family through his love of
sports. Reading the column reminded me that we don't always get
the chance to tell those closest to us how much we love and
appreciate them. Thanks to Reilly, I did just that. After
reading the article, I sent a copy of it to my dad and thanked
him for all of life's lessons.
BRAD D. SAGE, New York City

When my oldest son was nine years old, I had an epiphany: Half
of my time with him was gone! The first nine years went by in
the blink of an eye. When I share that with people, the reaction
is always the same: "Wow, I never thought of it like that!" Now
I make the most out of my time with my kids. I'll have the rest
of my life to work. My kids are only here for a fraction of it.
LEE JOURDAN, The Woodlands, Texas

I have shared a walk down a fairway with my son on a clear
evening at sunset and have stood at the top of a steep pitch of
moguls and heard my kids say to me, "Let's do it." Reilly
captures those magical moments like nobody else. That's why I
always read SI starting with the back page.

I think we're here to watch Kirk Gibson limp to the batter's box
in pain and then circle the bases feeling none. We're here to
watch Michael Jordan torch our beloved Pistons for 50. We're
here to call our dad after watching Tiger Woods embrace Earl at
the Masters. We're here to chase the dream. If we're lucky,
we're here to tell our kids why we're here.

We're here to read THE LIFE OF REILLY each week.
BILL ALBRECHT, Kennett Square, Pa.


COLOR PHOTO: GREG FOSTER Puggy Blackmon gave David Duval a sense of direction.


I am disappointed with John O'Keefe's CATCHING UP WITH... on
John McKay in the April 26 issue. O'Keefe refers to the drafting
of Ricky Bell (above) by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1977 as a
"blunder" because Tony Dorsett was also available. What O'Keefe
fails to mention was that Bell, an All-America at USC,
contracted dermatomyositis and polymyositis, which cut his NFL
career short in '83 and later cost him his life. In '79 Bell
rushed for 1,263 yards (156 more than Dorsett gained that
season), scored nine touchdowns and led the Bucs to their first
and only NFC Championship Game. He was anything but a blunder.