ON A HIGH BLUFF
My compliments to Frank Deford on his "foresight" (Another Big Bluff by Big Wilt, Jan. 25). I've witnessed one of the 76ers' successes since Wilt's homecoming: the night the 76ers met the "invincible" Celtics. Wilt outdefensed "Mr. Defense" (Bill Russell), handed out six assists and grabbed 26 rebounds (high in the game). He did manage not to be high scorer, nevertheless the 76ers won 104-100.
Keep up the "big bluff," Wilt.
How can a man score 100 points a game, grab 55 rebounds a game and be told he isn't trying? Sure Wilt Chamberlain has his faults, but no one is perfect, not even Mr. Deford, I'm sure. Before you pick on Wilt any more, check the statistics.
Congratulations on your accurate appraisal of Wilt Chamberlain and his antics. Wilt, in my estimation, is the symbol of the deteriorating NBA. There was a time when basketball greats (like Dolph Schayes and George Mikan) could shoot from all over the court. Today a star like Wilt is taking a long shot from four feet out. Chamberlain's foul-shooting percentage wouldn't even qualify for a junior high school foul-shooting tournament.
Something had better be done about the NBA. People just don't want to see "Jolly Green Giants" like Wilt dunk 100 points in one night. They want to see good teams with good players play good ball. In other words, today people want to see college basketball.
If Wilt's "limited style" was an imposition on the rest of the San Francisco team, how did they manage a division title in 1964? Maybe this is just another chapter in the "bum rap" series that Wilt has been shouldering every time his team loses.
Wilt is not a "one-time attraction," as the third-largest crowd to see a pro game in Philadelphia basketball history proved when Wilt made his homecoming appearance against his ex-teammates, the Warriors.
Finally, your prediction that the trade will have "little effect" on this year's standings is just too much to swallow. With the "Big Dipper" at center, Hal Greer and Larry Costello behind him and rookie Lucious Jackson taking off some of the pressure, the 76ers will end up a strong second in the East. And when the final score is tabulated, it will no longer be the Boston Celtics who are the world champions but the Philadelphia 76ers.
The only true sentence in the whole article was: "Chamberlain is one of the genuine superathletes of his generation."
How could a person write such an article on a man who has done so much for basketball? I am from Philadelphia, am 13 and receive a limited allowance, but I would give my entire allowance for 10 years to see Mr. Deford play Wilt, one-on-one, with Wilt on his knees, blindfolded and mittens on his hands. You know who would win.
Congratulations to William Leggett on the fine article about Bobby Hull (Go, Bobby! Go! Jan. 25). Here in Boston we don't have anything to cheer about except the Celtics so we're really rooting for Bobby to break the "magic 50."
We certainly enjoyed the article on Bobby Hull, who, in our opinion, is one of the great hockey players, and we are pulling for him to break the record. The only adverse point in your story was the slighting of Gordie Howe as a player and person by labeling him as one who has achieved what he has through shading the rules. This is completely untrue. Admittedly Howe is guilty of being an extraordinarily mean player—which is to say that he may be a notch ahead of Richard or Hull or any of the other great hockey players.
Whether Hull will ever match Howe in records or skill is not of as much concern to us fans as that both are judged on merit alone and not on personality or appearance on the ice.
The world of hockey is just seeing the beginning of an illustrious career in Robert Marvin Hull, and if professional hockey continues to gain popularity across the U.S., this man, and this man alone, will be responsible. Hats off to William Leggett for an enlightening story on Mr. Hockey.
GERALD N. RODELLI
New York City
Your Mr. Leggett was asleep at the switch when doing his article on our terrific Bobby Hull. We can't believe that any fanatically loyal Red Wing fan would ever start to yell "Go, Bobby! Go!" without a little prompting, just as we would never expect a Hawk fan to cheer on the "great" Gordie Howe. It just so happens that the Blackhawk Standbys Junior Club and their friends (about 80 in all) went to Detroit by bus for that game and it was their cheer that Leggett heard. There were a number of other people from Chicago there, too, who probably joined in the chant. And, as any hockey fan can tell you, there just happens to be a good number of Hawk fans in Detroit.
Bobby Hull is tremendous and will probably be wiping out old records for many years to come. As a result, you'll probably continue to do stories on him. Therefore, we suggest the next time you hear "Go, Bobby! Go!" you start looking around for the Blackhawk Standbys—no matter what rink you happen to be in. We do an awful lot of traveling.
THE BIG MEN
As a Negro and a native of New Orleans, I would like to comment on Ron Mix's article, Was This Their Freedom Ride? (Jan. 18) I think the article was excellent and the author quite correct. But the fact that Negroes were registered in the Roosevelt Hotel, ate in integrated restaurants, etc., is evidence of progress. As far as discourteous treatment is concerned, let me say that I have been shown more discourtesy in Manhattan than I ever experienced in New Orleans.
Sports can lead the way to full integration, but first let's all be good sports and not push for the impossible overnight.
HERMAN L. BARTON
I would like to tell the 22 stars who left New Orleans that their gesture was a distressing blow to thousands of football fans in this area, and the pity of it all was that it did no good. The only people affected were those on the Negroes' side, both white and black. By calling off the game, the AFL stars played right into the hands of those that foster the antebellum ideas of nonparticipation between the races.
Common interest can do more than anything to bring about good relationships between people. The common interest of football could have wrought many good and constructive things in this area. But now the possibility of this is very, very dim.
The passage of the civil rights bill did not guarantee a sudden racial Utopia. But in behalf of New Orleans, I must say that great strides have been taken in race relations. The fact that the All-Star game was nearly a sellout indicates that in this area people, for the greater part, have accepted the idea of togetherness. Why not lean toward the greater part that is good, rather than the small part that is bad?
We have tried hard and suffered long down here to bring about understanding between the races. The world of sports—and football in particular—can provide a big step toward realizing this understanding. We here are always proud to sec some of our own able to stand tall, but we hang our heads in shame when our own act and think as narrow and small as those we oppose. I say to the Negroes of the AFL, let us be proud of you and not apologetic for you. You are big men in every respect, why not act it!
ON THE MAT
Congratulations to the editors of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and to Herman Weiskopf on the outstanding coverage of the Lehigh-Iowa State wrestling meet (The Night the Cyclones Met a Thunderclap, Jan. 25). It may be of interest to your readers to know that amateur wrestling is currently the fastest-growing sport in the high schools and universities of the U.S. In New York State alone over 400 public schools have interscholastic wrestling teams.
I would have to take issue with Mr. Weiskopf's statement, "Most Americans could hardly care less," referring to the scheduled meeting of Lehigh and Iowa State. Wrestling fans all over the nation follow these two powerhouses closely, along with Oklahoma State, Navy, Michigan, Penn State and Oklahoma.
THROUGH THE GLASS, BRIGHTLY
As long as Star Boatbuilder Carl Eichenlaub feels that way about fiber glass he will further limit a boat that was ahead of its time at inception in the old days of wood but is now rapidly becoming obsolete (Boats Should he Wooden, Jan. 25).
As owner of one of the prettiest wooden Thistles in the Hawaiian Islands I am hard pressed to win against the fiber glass boats. But, thanks to our class organization's farsightedness in testing the glass boat and the aluminum mast and approving them, our class can continue to grow and sail instead of sand and paint.
GLENN D. CLARK JR.
In my estimation, Buffalo Assistant Coach Joel Collier's statement that "a thrill went up and down our bench" after Mike Stratton's vicious tackle put Keith Lincoln out of the AFL Championship game was greatly misconstrued by your readers (19TH HOLE, Jan. 18). Anyone knows that any one play during the course of a game can inspire a team to victory. In this case, Stratton's tackle served such a purpose. The "thrill" was not that Lincoln was out of the game but rather a "thrill" of inspiration to "kill" (in the cleanest way possible) those Chargers. The Bills did just that, and they did it with the best possible weapon—good, clean, hard football.
I was there and must admit that Lincoln was cheered, for sure, but only after he was able to get to his feet and leave the playing field under his own power.
The fans in Buffalo may be fanatical about their football team—but to say we cheer because someone on the opposing team gets injured is ridiculous. We come to see football—not bloodshed.
The letters from the four men who expressed shock and dismay with regard to the Buffalo Bills' attitude toward Keith Lincoln's injury only show that their idea of sport is, at best, a quiet game of checkers or bridge. I believe that Mike Stratton can walk proudly and unashamedly. No coach can reasonably disagree with the fact that anyone who can tackle that hard deserves only praise.
I do not believe that any of the pros wish harm on any opponent. The Bills were glad that Lincoln would be out of the game, that he and the Chargers had been thwarted. None of them rejoiced because his rib was broken.