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Original Issue


Wayne Gretzky is right: He'll be remembered for his passing.
Passing Howe, passing Bossy, passing Hull and passing Orr for
his 61 NHL records.
--RANDALL BANKS, Lansing, Mich.


Though I don't consider myself a huge hockey fan, I now
understand what Wayne Gretzky meant to the game (One of a Kind,
April 26). Thank you for capturing the essence of a true sports
hero. I hope that Albert Belle and Dennis Rodman read the article.

You mean to tell me the Great One hasn't fathered three children
by different women? Hasn't been arrested for cocaine use or for
DUI? For spousal abuse or propositioning a hooker? How boring.
How wonderful!

I made my 13-year-old son watch Gretzky's retirement press
conference. I told him that he would be lucky to see that kind of
class ever again. He agreed.
HAL SISSON, Addison, N.Y.

I've seen some of the best in person: Aaron and Mays, Bo and
Joe, Magic and Michael. But what I witnessed on the night of
Nov. 17, 1981, tops it all. Gretzky, taking a seemingly
meaningless third-period face-off, scored directly on the play.
He went on to get 92 goals in 1981-82, breaking the
single-season NHL record. That moment in St. Louis will be the
greatest sporting memory I'll share with my children.
TIM GREGG, Houston

The image of a Gretzky pass or goal will always be in my mind.
JOE GOFF, Sky Valley, Calif.

My wife, son and I were waiting to enter Madison Square Garden
early to watch my older son play in a youth hockey game before a
Rangers game. My five-year-old son spotted Gretzky and ran to
him. He handed Gretzky a pen and a piece of paper to autograph,
but Gretzky handed the paper back and began turning my son
around, looking at his Rangers jersey. Gretzky bent over and
signed on the white border of the shoulder patch. Nobody knows
whose small, illegible signature is on that jersey but us.
JOE LOGIUDICE, East Brunswick, N.J.


Scottie Pippen claims that the Houston Rockets' offense is "not
my style" (INSIDE THE NBA, April 26). Mr. Pinocchio, your nose
is growing longer with each word you speak. Every basketball fan
with just an ounce of common sense knows that your style
depended entirely on Michael Jordan.
JOSEPH DAUDISH, Westchester, Ill.


Any discussion of the NHL coach of the year for 1998-99 must
include Ken Hitchcock of the Presidents' Trophy-champion Dallas
Stars (INSIDE THE NHL, April 26). A coach who was able to prod
formerly one-dimensional stars like Brett Hull and Mike Modano
to play a two-way game while orchestrating a defense that
allowed three goals or more only once in 27 straight road games
deserves the honor.
ROB JANSSENS, Burlington, Ont.

Saying that the Ottawa Senators' Jacques Martin should be coach
of the year is off the wall. Mentioning that the Senators have
only one star, Alexei Yashin, is fine, but not taking into
account Yashin's supporting cast is just plain crazy. Toronto
failed to make the playoffs two years in a row, but under new
coach Pat Quinn the Leafs skated to a club-record 45 wins.
Toronto won the season series with Ottawa, too. Quinn is the
better choice.
MICHAEL REED, Kingston, Ont.


I disagree with Phil Taylor's assessment of Don Nelson. True,
Nelson is different from the other coaches, but that is because
he is not afraid to be unorthodox. I applaud his guts and his
innovation during dark times for Dallas.
MARK STERNS, Grand Prairie, Texas


Not a Novelty

While enjoying Phil Taylor's analysis of Don Nelson's coaching
(Whoa, Nellie! April 26), I was astounded to find a cheap shot
at Ralph Sampson. To list Sampson, a former three-time college
player of the year, NBA All-Star and 20-point, 10-rebound
performer for his first two seasons, as a "novelty center" along
with the likes of Manute Bol and Shawn Bradley is beyond
ignorant. Nelson acquired Sampson for Golden State after a
series of injuries had limited Sampson's mobility and
productivity but before those injuries were proved chronic and,
ultimately, career-ending. To label Sampson a novelty based on
his unhealthy years ignores the seasons of exceptional
athleticism and grace that he gave to basketball.