I don't care if Ray Rhodes is black, white, yellow, green or
purple. He didn't do his job.
--CHARLES KRUEGER, Marshfield, Wis.
If I were Hakeem Olajuwon, Tim Duncan, Vlade Divac or David
Robinson, I would have filed a formal complaint after reading
your cover story on Shaquille O'Neal (Big Time, Jan. 17). Mr.
Big Stock Exchange has been milking the same "move"--take five
shuffle steps and drive his shoulder into the defender--for big
numbers since he came into the NBA. If it weren't for his
freakish size and the extinction of the traveling violation, he
wouldn't have made my high school's jayvee squad.
KEN B. CHAPIN, Westfield, Mass.
It's nice to see that Y2K hasn't affected the famed SI cover
jinx. I just watched the stodgy old Pacers end the Lakers'
winning streak the day after your issue landed in my mailbox.
JAMES FINKELSTEIN, Albany, Ga.
While I agree that Ray Rhodes was fired because he didn't get
the job done (THE LIFE OF REILLY, Jan.24), I disagree with Rick
Reilly's reasoning that race wasn't an issue in Rhodes's firing
because "since 1960, 17 NFL coaches--all of them white except
Rhodes--lasted a year or less on the job." Reilly should ask
himself, Since 1960 how many head coaches in the NFL have been
black? When he answers that question, maybe he'll see what
"righteous cause" the Reverend Jesse Jackson stands for.
MIKE SZAJENKO, Warren, Mich.
Black and white is not the issue; wins and losses are. Rhodes
was fired not because of his color but for the same reason Chan
Gailey lost his in Dallas: not winning enough games to please
his team's owner.
JIM BOGGS, Greensboro, N.C.
Jackson is right that Rhodes was held to a different standard.
When Rhodes was hired by Ron Wolf after going 9-22-1 in his last
two years with the Eagles, Wolf handed him a great chance, and
it didn't work out. That's called opportunity, not racism.
FRITZ MENZEL, Stevens Point, Wis.
Reilly writes that the rebel flag still flies above stadiums in
South Carolina. I have been to most of the stadiums in the
state, and I am unaware that the Confederate flag is flying over
any of them. The matter of the Confederate flag's flying over
the statehouse is heated enough without hyperbole.
HEYWARD HARVEY, Charleston, S.C.
MASTER OF THE GAME
Your query into why Pete Maravich averaged 44.5 points during
his senior year raises the question, Could the Pistol do it
today (INSIDE COLLEGE BASKETBALL, Jan. 17)? Undoubtedly not.
Nowadays, with the three-pointer, Maravich would probably be
popping in more like 50 to 60 points a night since many of his
outside shots were from well beyond three-point range.
BILL FREEZE, Provo, Utah
While it is true that the college game of today resembles the
pro game of yesteryear, there is another compelling reason why
there are no more scorers like Maravich. College basketball has
better athletes than 25 years ago--but not better basketball
players. The player now knows six or seven ways to dunk, but he
can't shoot with his off hand. He can take off from the free
throw line for a tomahawk jam, but he can't shoot a free throw.
While few would deny that Maravich was a terrific athlete, all
would agree that he was first and foremost a basketball player.
That's more than I can say for most of today's college players.
ERIC GOLBERG, Los Angeles
Your article High Five (Jan. 17) on the maturing of Tiger Woods
was right on the mark. Not only has Tiger dominated the world's
best golfers, but he has also grown despite the distractions. We
should all be so lucky as to have the skill and maturity of this
TODD J. GONYEAU, Ticonderoga, N.Y.
It's refreshing to see that you don't need to be a controversial
athlete to be written about in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. Thanks for
letting us know what Charles Oakley is all about (Tower of
Power, Jan. 24).
JAMES VANSWOL, Menasha, Wis.
He's a throwback, a man among boys. All these childish NBA stars
of today could learn a valuable lesson in life from the Oak.
ANDY WITTEN, Jacksonville
What an interesting article about Iowa State's Marcus Fizer
(INSIDE COLLEGE BASKETBALL, Jan. 24). I find it fascinating that
a person is considered to be maturing when he has a son who
lives in Louisiana, a daughter who lives in Virginia and a
fiancee with whom he's shacking up in Iowa. I can only hope that
my kids don't reach that level of maturity!
CURT WEESE, Hudson, Wis.
Wow, I am impressed. Two babies, and Fizer is only a junior.
With that track record he should skip his senior season since he
is certainly ready for the NBA.
GARY CHAIZE, Bradenton, Fla.
While I agree that our city has had our share of tragedies with
the death of Bobby Phills, Steve Chiasson, the IRL racing fans
and Cherica Adams, you have forgotten one (SCORECARD, Jan. 24).
Last fall Charles Hayward, a forward for UNC-Charlotte, lost a
two-year battle with leukemia. All 49ers fans miss him.
KENNETH HOUCK JR., Pineville, N.C.