Wild about Marian
How could you leave the Wild's Marian Gaborik (above) off your
list of sudden stars? Gaborik's 45 points at the All-Star break
were two behind Ranger Mike York's total--despite having played in
five fewer games--and Gaborik had already surpassed his point
total (36) and tied his goal total (18) as a rookie last year.
Finally, while the 24-year-old York has been teamed with All-Star
talents Theo Fleury and Eric Lindros, Gaborik is only 19 and in
recent weeks has often lined up with journeyman Sergei Zholtok
and career minor leaguer Richard Park, both of whom saw their
numbers improve when they joined Gaborik's line.
CHARLIE BEATTIE, Washington, D.C.
I enjoyed your article about Floor Jordan's game (Three's a
Charm, Jan. 14). As a longtime Celtics fan, reading about
Jordan's owning the "game's nastiest head fake," his "patented
fadeaway," his playing defense by "patrolling passing lanes like
a free safety" and his "game now predicated on craft and guile,"
I couldn't help but think the 38-year-old Jordan is now playing
the way Larry Bird played in his prime.
MARK METTLER, St. Charles, Ill.
I stopped watching the NBA and reading SI in 1998, after
Jordan--assisted by Dick Bavetta and his officiating
friends--pushed, grabbed, traveled and shot his way to another
title by beating the Jazz. I recently resubscribed to SI, and my
first issue was Jan. 14, complete with yet another MJ-worshiping
cover story. Are Mrs. Jordan and I the only people in America
who are sick of him?
Santa Clara, Utah
What will it take for the national media to recognize the
accomplishments of the Hurricanes (NHL Midseason Report, Jan.
14)? They sit atop their division; they have the league's finest
line in Ron Francis, Sami Kapanen and Jeff O'Neill; they have a
solid core of young players that includes Bates Battaglia, Erik
Cole and David Tanabe; and their goaltending has been upgraded to
include U.S. Olympian Tom Barrasso. Given all this, your cover
headline "First-half surprises..." is woefully misleading. Come
IRA BASS, Greensboro, N.C.
It's easy to see how you could overlook the lowly Blackhawks in
your Rating the Cup Contenders section. After all, at the
All-Star break Chicago was only third in the NHL, had a record
against your Cup Contenders of 10-7-2 and was winning with hard
work, not payroll dollars. It must bug the Red Wings to compare
the Blackhawks' payroll with theirs and see that the extra cash
they spent has bought them only 11 points in the standings. Makes
me wonder how Brett Hull would have looked wearing his dad's
number in the red, white and black.
ROLAND MILLINGTON, Creve Coeur, Ill.
A few years ago I was standing next to the visitors' dugout at
County Stadium after a Reds win over the Brewers. As the players
returned to the dugout, one of the last Reds in was Mike Cameron
(Home Runner, Jan. 14). As his head disappeared under the dugout
roof, a young boy, probably seven or eight years old, asked, "Mr.
Cameron, could I have your batting gloves?" Like most everyone
else standing in the area, I shrugged off the request until
moments later, when two batting gloves came flying over the roof
at the little fella's head. Everyone then saw a smile on Mike's
face that was matched only by the smile the youngster had on his.
That shows what kind of person Mike Cameron is.
KEVIN KLETTI, Germantown, Wis.
When I go to the gym, I have to hang my pants and shirt on hooks
and stand my shoes up at an angle at the bottom of the locker to
get them to fit. It's really so sad that pro athletes are
required to do nearly the same thing in some of the "worst"
stadiums in the country (Clubhouse Confidential, Jan. 14). I'm
sure they all deserve smiling valets with hangers ready to keep
the players' Armani suits from actually touching their Gucci
loafers. Perhaps we should change the name of their locker rooms
to playpens or day care centers, because that's where you
generally find spoiled, tantrum-throwing children.
ALAN W. HATCH, Springdale, Ark.
O.K., so the "families" that live in those sumptuous locker rooms
are using masking tape and headphones to cut down on conflict. As
the mother of four boys--ages 15, 14, 12 and 10--I can tell the
managers faced with team feuding that more space and on-call
chefs aren't the answer. The answer is "Because I'm your mother,
and I said cut it out." Then make them walk the dog.
SARA WEINERT, Winfield, Kans.
Spurred to Lament
As an avid Florida fan, I find it heartbreaking that Steve
Spurrier (SCORECARD, Jan. 21) would leave the Gators for a team
with maroon-and-gold colors and an Indian nickname, and whose
players are paid professionals wearing free shoes.
P.W. KOZAK, Aiken, S.C.
COLOR PHOTO: DAVID E. KLUTHO