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Original Issue


An Early Ming

I thought Ian Thomsen did a great job on the article about Yao
Ming (The New Mr. Big, Oct. 28). I agree that Yao has a long way
to go before he can play up to Shaq's level, but I think that
after a few years he will have the ability to be a key weapon.
BEN DAVIS, St. Louis

Your story on Yao quoted a scout as saying, "Yao wasn't born with
those basketball skills. He had to earn them with hours and hours
of practice." I am not an expert in biology, but I wonder, is
anyone born with basketball skills? Perhaps this is a sly way of
getting at the subtly racist notion that there is some inherent
athleticism--to use the cliche one hears from many hoops
announcers--that African-American players are born with but that
others get robbed of in the great genetic lottery. I don't think
anyone gets to the NBA without "hours of practice."
RICHARD SACKS, Ridgefield, Conn.

Shaq and Company

How can you possibly rank the Kings ahead of the Lakers (Scouting
Reports, Oct. 28)? I am a Philadelphian, a 76ers fan and the
farthest thing from a Lakers supporter, but I find it
mind-blowing that you can disregard the fact that the Lakers beat
the Kings every time it counts. Your ranking is ludicrous,
unless, of course, you are intentionally trying to provide Shaq
and Kobe with extra motivation. Until the Kings actually upend
the Lakers, they don't deserve the top spot.
JOE LEONARD, Philadelphia

Although Frankenshaq (Oct. 28) was entertaining and thorough, it
was basically unnecessary. If you want to stop--or at least slow
down--Shaq, have the referees show some guts and call what they
are supposed to call instead of swallowing their whistles or
turning their heads every time O'Neal drives a shoulder or elbow
through a stationary opponent's sternum or camps out in the lane
long enough to make another lame rap album.
TODD ERICKSON, Fridley, Minn.

You forgot to give Frankenshaq one important body part: MJ's
STUART SENESCU, Highland Park, Ill.

Zone Diet?

The yellow box indicating Barry Bonds's strike zone (World
Premiere, Oct. 28) will only perpetuate the failure of umpires to
call the strike zone by the rule book. Your rectangle is about
six inches low at both the top and the bottom. If we could get
the strike zone called correctly, it would help shorten the time
of the games to 2 1/2 hours. Then, maybe, baseball would return
as our national pastime.
WALTER H. KNOX III, Bridgewater, Va.

In the Picture

On Aug. 4, 1984, I boarded a flight from LAX to JFK and
immediately spied a stunning blonde sitting across the aisle
reading SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. I asked to borrow her SI, we spoke
and, eventually, that gorgeous woman became my wife. I married
into an Angels family and soon switched my allegiance from the
Tigers. Eighteen years later we settled into our seats at Edison
Field for Game 1 of the World Series only to have Barry Bonds
spoil the second inning, and ultimately the game, with a home
run. Photographer John Biever captured that frightful moment
(LEADING OFF, Oct. 28), and he captured something else. We are
the couple sitting behind the net, the stunning blonde and myself
in red. Thanks for bringing us together in '84 and putting us
together in SI in '02. We have come full circle with you and the
MICHAEL O. JOHNSON, Malibu, Calif.

Senior Moment

I watched the Penn State--Michigan game to which Joe Paterno
referred in complaining about the officiating (What's Up with Joe
Pa?, Oct. 28). Yeah, they blew that call. What Joe Pa doesn't
mention is that a play or two earlier in the same series, on the
opposite sideline, the refs ruled that the Penn State receiver
completed a pass, but replays clearly showed he was out-of-bounds
before gaining possession.
GARY POKRASSA, Roslyn Heights, N.Y.

Women's Rights

Rick Reilly makes some good points in his Fans' Bill of Rights
(THE LIFE OF REILLY, Oct. 28). I hate it when my husband asks me
to fix the garbage disposal while I'm watching a game, or to open
a pickle jar while I'm watching SportsCenter. The worst is when
he crashes my Mustang and then tries to tell me about it while
I'm watching sports. (Spouses are notoriously bad drivers.) It's
a good column, Rick, but don't try to paint all women as the
nagging wife--some of us just want to watch the game with a cold
beer and a heaping plate of wings.
LAUREN GROSS, Philadelphia

Going to the Matt

There are two great reasons for CATCHING UP WITH Matt Biondi
(Oct. 28). He completed his education, and he will achieve
immortality--by sharing his knowledge through teaching.

No Joke

Bill Scheft should be ashamed of himself for making fun of Theo
Fleury's alcoholism (SCORECARD, Oct. 28). There is nothing
amusing or comical about a person struggling with an addiction.

Fear Strikes Out

I read with great empathy S.L. Price's Fields of Fear in
SCORECARD (Oct. 28). As a father and a coach in our city's soccer
league, I feel Price described well the emotions I felt while
under the shadow of the sniper. I believe strongly that a key to
life is participating in and enjoying the fun inherent in sports.
In a surreal week here in Richmond, SI has provided a path to the
proper perspective on life and sports.

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