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Winning Smiles

What a great photoon your Celtics championship cover: Bill Russell, the greatest basketballplayer ever (sorry, Michael) and Kevin Garnett, the epitome of unselfish teamplay, standing side by side. The expressions on their faces say it all: Winninga championship is the best feeling in the world, and it never grows old.
Larry Casey, Huntsville, Ala.

Danny Ainge (SeemsLike Old Times, June 30) said his 1980s Celtics did not have a player "ascool and poised and who could shoot the ball like" Ray Allen. Did he forgetLarry Bird?
Lawrence Wang, San Diego

I've lived inPhiladelphia all of my 23 years, and your two-page opening photo of thecelebration in Boston is the kind of scene that keeps me praying. I need achampionship. I need it now. Philly's gotta be next, right?
Tommy Loughner, Philadelphia

Full of Beans

Mark Bechtel has alot of nerve asking Boston sports fans to pipe down (PLAYERS, June 30). Afterenduring chants such as "1918," "maybe next year" and "26rings" for more years than I care to admit, I'm proud of my teams and I'llshout it out at the top of my lungs to anyone who cares to listen—and to thosewho don't. Deal with it.
Anna Benson, East Hartford, Conn.

Being a Bostonsports fan is not as easy as one might think: Just consider all the money wehave to spend on championship hats and T-shirts!
Mathew Hatfield, Sudbury, Mass.

Watching theLakers lose in the Finals was hard enough, but having to do it with all thoseBoston fans in L.A. bragging about their teams was even more torturous. Still,I have to wonder: If Boston is so great, why are they living in Los Angeles?
Kevin Konczal, Marina del Rey, Calif.

Gangs ofOakland

It is poignant andironic that Bill Russell graced the cover of the issue that contains GeorgeDohrmann's story about young African-American athletes no longer seeing sportsas a way out in Oakland (How Dreams Die, June 30) because of gang violencethere. Russell's alma mater, Oakland's legendary McClymonds High School, ismentioned in Dohrmann's story—but only in connection with a football player whowas shot and killed in 2000.
James A. Thomas III, Santa Clara, Calif.

The most searingline in Dohrmann's piece is "Young athletes die, foundations are formed,but nothing changes." The reason nothing changes is because we in the blackcommunity are afraid of asking some fundamental questions about the way weraise children and the culture we breed. Unless we are willing to confrontthose issues—and the task is primarily ours—in 10 years another reporter willbe doing the same story and citing even grimmer statistics.
John La Bonne, New York City

Your story paintsa bleak and all-too-accurate picture of the difficult lives that many youngpeople in communities like Oakland and Richmond lead. But let's not dismisssports-based youth development programs as a solution from the past that nolonger works. I am a trustee with Team-Up for Youth, which is working inOakland to provide athletic opportunities for girls as well as boys. Whetherthey are gifted athletically or not, the kids connect to coaches and mentors,and learn lessons that last a lifetime. Sports-based programs are part of thesolution today, just as they were for me growing up in Oakland decades ago.
Dave Stewart, 1989 World Series MVP San Diego

The same week Iread your story, I also saw that our decaying, understaffed schools will havetheir budget cut by 9% this year. It's sad that athletics are losing theirappeal as a way out, but tragic that we refuse to provide even the basics thatschools need to ensure academic success for our children.
Charles Margulis, Oakland

Your reportincluded a sidebar on Terrance Kelly, the De La Salle football player who waskilled in 2004 while going to pick up the son of his father's girlfriend (TheHardest Loss, June 30). A sad note, and a true reflection of how things work inthe streets, is that the kid that Terrance was picking up that night, BrandonYoung, was just murdered on June 3 inside a local bowling alley. It's a viciouscycle that needs to stop.
Dan Carson, San Pablo, Calif.

While the storiesof the many lives crippled by gang violence are important, we shouldacknowledge the few who have escaped the violence. Terrance Kelly'steammates—Jackie Bates, Willie Glasper and Cameron Colvin—all made it out withtheir lives. Glasper still plays for the Oregon Ducks, Bates eventuallytransferred from Oregon to Hampton and will be entering his senior year. Colvinwas picked up in free agency this May by the San Francisco 49ers. Hopefullythese men will go on to do great things and honor the legacies of their fallenteammates and brethren.
Amory Weld, Bernardsville, N.J.

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