Finding a Pearl
Back in 1974, when Bruce Pearl blew out his knee in a high school football game, thus ending his playing days in football and basketball, he would have been the last person you'd pick to make the cover of SI. More than 32 years later it was great to see him in orange body paint at the bottom of your March 19 cover. Way to go, Boomer!
David Davenport, Savannah
Upon seeing my copy of your March Madness issue, my eight-year-old nephew said the cover looked like his Where's Waldo? book. I noticed your Test Your Hoops IQ contest and assisted him in locating the five Duke players from the 1992 championship team. "Now let's see if we can find Coach K," I said. My nephew replied, "He's not here. He's at home complaining about the referees in the VCU game to his family."
H.J. Donohue II, Chicago
As I watched Duke fall to Virginia Commonwealth in the first round, I noticed an imbalance of Blue Devils players (past and present) scattered about the cover of my new SI. How do you know these things?
Tim Cromley, Fort Collins, Colo.
As you point out, from 1974 to the present only one team has repeated as men's champion (Double Jeopardy, March 19), while from 1946 to 1973, 11 teams repeated. What I find really noteworthy is that of those 11 teams repeating, only four of them were not UCLA. Or stated another way, in the history of the tournament UCLA has repeated more than all the other teams in the country combined.
Paul Agathen, Washington, Mo.
Repeaters in the NCAAs are rarer nowadays for several reasons. One factor, often forgotten, is that regional games actually used to be regional. With all due respect to John Wooden, his old UCLA teams usually had to win out in a weak West and then play a tired opponent who had survived a stronger draw.
Jeffrey Myers, Medford, N.J.
In my 50 years of subscribing to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, I have never enjoyed an article more than your March 19 piece on the 1963--64 UCLA team (Birth of a Dynasty, March 19). I was at the L.A. Sports Arena in December 1963 when UCLA played No. 3 Michigan, and I still remember much of the game to this day. The seats were nearly filled a good 30 minutes before tip-off. This was the night that L.A. sports fans discovered college basketball.
Michael Trujillo, Grover Beach, Calif.
After looking at the picture of Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki driving to the basket in the March 19 issue (LEADING OFF), I have one question: Does anyone in the NBA play defense? The five Lakers on the court are joining the paid spectators in watching Dirk drive to the bucket for a layup. Hope they got their money's worth.
Barry Diamondstone, Walkersville, Md.
When I was growing up, the dream of every red-blooded American boy was to become a professional athlete and marry a Hollywood starlet. With Spurs point guard Tony Parker of France marrying Eva Longoria (In the Heart of Texas, March 19) chalk up another American job outsourced overseas.
Robb Lippitt, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
I found your article about soccer star Marco Materazzi (Mad About Materazzi, March 19) a little too complimentary toward a man known as l'animale in his home country of Italy. From his brief but turbulent career in the English Premier League (in which he received 12 yellow cards and three red cards in just one season) to his current stay at Inter Milan, Materazzi has proved himself to be a dirty player. You do not need to look any further than the crushing elbow he threw to Juan Pablo Sorin during the Champions League Tournament in 2006. Thugs such as Materazzi rob the game of the beauty that magicians like Zinédine Zidane work so hard to create.
Tyler Calnon, Colleyville, Texas
For those who have wondered how athletes replenished their bodily fluids in the days before Gatorade and the rest, the unappealing answer would appear to be present in Rich Clarkson's photo on page 84: reconstituted lemon juice! Bruinade, RIP.
Lindsay R. Barnes Jr.
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RICH CLARKSON (WOODEN)
JUICED Plastic lemons held a legal energy booster at the 1964 Final Four.