FOR FEB. 23, 2015
I enjoyed your tribute to Dean Smith. Years ago, when my youngest son was eight or nine, we were at the Crosby National Celebrity Golf Tournament, when Coach Smith walked by in a hurry with a bunch of tournament officials. Smith noticed my son was wearing a UNC cap and stopped to ask him if he would like to have it signed. The officials pleaded with Coach Smith to keep moving, but he paused and said, "You never know when a young man may grow up to be 6'9" and have a great hook shot." My son never forgot that moment and still has his signed hat.
Greg Horton, Tobaccoville, N.C.
Add former minor league outfielder Ira Smith to the story of how being a replacement player altered one's chances of making the majors. Smith played in around 10 replacement games for the Padres. However, once the strike was over the team opted not to call up Smith from the minors despite his .400 average.
Geoffrey Tinelli, Woodbine, Md.
I can understand Tom Verducci's issue with MLB's use of replacement players during spring training in 1995. However, as a devoted baseball fan of more than 50 years, I much preferred those guys to the players of the steroid era that followed. At least back then we knew what to expect.
Ron Muzechuk, Vandalia, Ohio
I loved Chris Ballard's article on the Warriors. They are a great, well-rounded team with arguably the NBA's best player, Stephen Curry. However, Ballard neglected to mention the guy who helped put this team together: Golden State executive board member and talent scout Jerry West.
Daniel F Miller
New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
Tim Layden's essay on Jerry Tarkanian was masterly and reminded me of something famed sportswriter Red Smith would have written. I didn't really admire Tarkanian when he first began to garner attention. However, I began to think a bit differently when he stood up to the NCAA and sued it for violating his right to due process. While I still wasn't convinced that Tarkanian had always played by the rules, I wasn't sure that the rules were fairly enforced.
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RICH CLARKSON/NCAA PHOTOS (SMITH)
BILL BAPTIST/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (COVER)
GEORGE LANGE FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (TARKANIAN)