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Original Issue


Critical Calls

Your article Behind Closed Doors (May 21) is an insult to all
hard-working people. The last thing I want to read about is a
bunch of millionaires enjoying what they love doing the most,
which is playing basketball, spending time with their loved ones,
working out and playing video games. Thanks for the slap in the

Derrick Coleman says he hates to sign autographs for older fans
because they're just "businessmen." Well, Mr. Coleman, that's
correct, and they're businessmen who support your ridiculous
salary. If you can't sign an autograph for us, fine, because
you're one of the most underachieving basketball players in the
history of the game.
DAVE BRANDON Lincoln, Neb.

Phillies Phanatics

Let's give credit to the Phillies of 2001 (Win or Else! May 21).
While high-payroll teams such as the Dodgers, the Orioles and the
Rangers spend the big bucks to buy playoff spots and still don't
get anywhere, low-payroll teams such as the Phillies, the A's and
the Twins rely on outstanding coaching and well-developed farm
systems to get them to the promised land. Let's hope that this
trend continues.

Stephen Cannella missed the real story: a tale of two coaches.
Vern Ruhle has the pitchers throwing strikes and winning games,
while Richie Hebner has turned Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell and Scott
Rolen into free-swinging strikeout machines. Bowa may be showy,
but the coaches are molding this team.
GREG MANTER, Onancock, Va.

A Matter of Life and Death

Steve Rushin has the nerve to call a reader a "lunatic" for
pointing out the statistically low death rate by guns in America
and then draws a connection between Joseph Stalin and soccer
stadium deaths (AIR AND SPACE, May 21)? While these "eminently
preventable" deaths that he laments are regrettable, it's the
responsibility of individual countries to ensure the safety of
their own citizens. What are Americans supposed to do, send
Zambia donations for stadium repairs?

Mass deaths at soccer matches are a tragedy, as is our lack of
sympathy about them and other calamities. I too reacted with
little interest when such events occurred. In fact, I was so
self-absorbed that while watching a report about a fatal
helicopter crash on the news several years ago, the principal
thought I had was that the crash had occurred at an army base
where my brother was stationed. That outlook changed the next
morning when I was informed that my brother was one of the
soldiers killed. Now, when I hear about a tragic event, I reflect
on the feelings of pain and loss that the families of victims are

Hat Trick

Hats off to the writers of SI for having picked three of the four
Stanley Cup conference finalists in your NHL preseason issue (NHL
SCOUTING REPORTS, Oct. 16). You probably would have been perfect
had you known that number 66, Mario Lemieux of the Penguins,
would return.
DEREK GORDON, Westchester, Ill.

Quick on Their Feet

Thanks for the superb article on Alan Webb and Dathan Ritzenhein
(Ready to Rock, May 28). These two are not only the best runners
America has had in years, but two of the best young athletes to
come along in a long while.
PAUL COOVER, La Jolla, Calif.

As a high school distance runner from Virginia, I appreciate your
article on Webb and Ritzenhein. It's great to see athletes who
neither whine nor are overpaid grace your pages. I look forward
to telling my kids that I was beaten by Webb, the best high
school miler of all time.
KENT BARNES, Harrisonburg, Va.

You've got to be kidding! Webb breaks the 36-year-old high school
mile record and he's not on your cover (June 4)?


Flexible Flyer

Well done, L. Jon Wertheim, for a behind-the-scenes tale about
the Charlotte Hornets that spoke more about the people (Jamal
Mashburn, stretching, above) than about the game they play.
BRAD JANES, St. John, New Brunswick