Thanks to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and Tom Brody for the concise and accurate preview of the first American Basketball Association season (The ABA: Playing the Game Called Survival, Oct. 23). Mr. Brody gives no illusions of grandeur, but tells it like it is. The ABA is only as strong as the individuals who run it and who play in it.
One example of good management and good team performance (which result in great attendance) is in Indianapolis, where the Indiana Pacers play most of their home encounters. As Mr. Brody pointed out, few people worked as hard as General Manager Mike Storen and his staff to make the season's lid-lifter a success. Apparently, his efforts were not in vain.
Official attendance for the opener in the Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum was given as 9,135 paid. Evidently this total was given to please the fire marshal. Actual attendance was well over that figure, which also does not include the 2,000 fans turned away at the gate. The start of the game was delayed half an hour in order to get everyone in. In Chicago only 2,234 were in attendance for the Bulls' home opener.
Was this just a flash in the pan in Indianapolis? No. Four days later 6,000 were on hand to watch the Pacers go 2-0 for the young ABA season. Whether the NBA realizes it or not, the ABA is for real.
November 6, 1967
Congratulations on your write-up about the American Basketball Association. On the road on business last week I happened to go to one of the ABA games. I did not expect much. To my surprise I found a better and more interesting game, many new faces and excellent players. I suddenly realized that I am tired of the same old NBA teams and have a new interest in the ABA. I hope they make it.
As an ardent Knick fan for many years, I have been through the gamut. How well I remember the blown 20-point leads, the humiliating romps, the 10-game losing streaks, the .250 finishes and the clowns who made it all possible. Frank Deford's article, New York Gets a Top Team at Last (Oct. 23), is an excellent assessment of today's Knicks, a team that will put pride in the hearts of its fans and coins in the pockets of Ned Irish. The only question that must be answered is, can Bill Bradley ever replace Ron Sobieszczyk?
Why did you do it? Why did you put the Knicks on your cover? Nothing worse could have happened to them. The Knicks have lost five out of six since your article came out. There's no telling what else can happen to them now.
Sea Cliff, N.Y.
Once Bill Bradley arrives from the service and gets in shape, the Knicks will even give Philadelphia a run for its money. All in all, it still looks like an exciting and adventurous season ahead for New York fans.
In his article on the New York Knicks, Frank Deford hinted that during the winter New York is a basketball town first and a hockey town second. Last year the Knicks averaged 11,500 people a game, while the Rangers were sold out (15,925) for almost every game. These attendance figures certainly do not support Mr. Deford's argument.
Incidentally, I was one of approximately 8,000 people who stood in line overnight for Ranger playoff tickets last year. After I got my tickets I went around the corner to see the line for Knick playoff tickets. There were no more than 200 people in line.
These facts prove that hockey is far more popular in New York than basketball.
Forest Hills, N.Y.
I read your 1967-68 Pro Basketball Preview (Oct. 23) with great amusement. Your fourth-place prediction for the St. Louis Hawks is ridiculous! You admit to their strong rebounding, and to the fact that last year's team was second only to Boston in defense. Add to these fine qualities the coaching of Richie Guerin, and you have the makings of a championship team.
Now altogether, sing along with Rich: "Meet me in St. Louis, Philly," for the NBA championship in April.
TIE AND HANDKERCHIEF
I appreciated your article on the game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Baltimore Colts (A Pair Fit To Be Tied, Oct. 23). It gave the Colts the credit they deserve. It is now fairly easy to see that the Colts have at least an equal, if not the best, chance among the teams in the Coastal Division to take the championship.
New Windsor, Md.
I am deeply disappointed in your article on the Colt-Ram game. Tex Maule treated a tough, hard-fought game as incidental to the Colts' "greatness." He implies that the Rams are hardly good enough to be in the same league with the Colts, especially an uninjured Colt team. Ram End Jack Snow made two of the greatest catches I have ever seen against the Colts, but these remarkable grabs received only one line of coverage, no more than an account of a seven-yard run by Tom Matte.
If you are going to cover the week's premier game, please give an unbiased account of it, not a Tex Maule story.
Tex Maule has got to be kidding when he says the Rams were lucky to tie. A lot of luck for the Colts and the lousiest officiating I have ever seen contributed the most to the tie. Your caption on the picture of Jack Snow running toward the goal line after catching a pass on the ground is ample proof. You say that Snow is "untouched and still free to run," but notice that Colt fan with the striped shirt and whistle in his mouth. He called that potential touchdown back.
E. D. JONES
Lieut. Colonel, USAF (Ret.)
In the games of October 15, New Orleans traveled to Dallas and drew 94 yards penalty in the first half of the game. Los Angeles was at Baltimore, and the Rams were penalized 121 yards to the Colts' 35. Houston was at New York. The Oilers drew 104 penalty yards to the Jets' 40. San Francisco was penalized 103 yards; Philadelphia only 66. Guess what city they were playing in?
There were exceptions where the home team received the most penalty yardage, but nothing anywhere near that walked off against the majority of visiting teams.
I suggest the officials start playing "drop the handkerchief" against the home towners as much as the visitors!
ROMAN, NUMERAL I
I think it's about time that someone said something for Roman Gabriel of the Los Angeles Rams. Whenever anyone talks of the Rams, all the praise goes to the front four, and they are fine indeed, but it is Gabriel who has made a winner out of this club. Two years ago with Bill Munson, who had fine statistics as a quarterback, the Rams won only one of 10 games. When Gabe took over they won three of four and narrowly lost the fourth to the Colts. Last year they became a winning team behind Gabriel, who is not a statistic quarterback but a winning quarterback.
C. M. SWEENEY
PICTURES AND POOL
Congratulations on your informative story and color pictures of Wimpy and pool (Shooting Out the Lights with Wimpy, Oct. 16). A very interesting presentation. But when are you going to do something similar on pool's big brother, three-cushion billiards? Comparing the two games is like comparing checkers with chess. Many good pool players advance to three-cushion billiards, which demands much more skill than shooting a little ball into a big pocket.
As an amateur I have played several exhibition matches over the years with the professionals, including the late and immortal Willie Hoppe. Therefore, I feel qualified to state my opinions.
SIDNEY H. BROWN
Pinellas Park, Fla.
I was very impressed by the photography employed in your October 16 issue. The action shots of the World Series and of the New York Jets are unsurpassed by any other magazine in your field. Your extensive use of color is indeed tremendous, especially in the article on Luther (Wimpy) Lassiter and the playing of pool. I've been reading SI for the past five or six years, and each year the articles and accompanying photographs get better and better. Keep up the good work and I'll subscribe ever after.
RICHARD SCOTT MULLEN
Congratulations to John Zimmerman for his superlative "psychedelic" photographs in the October 9 issue (Splash of Strange Hues in Baseball's Most Frantic Week). Mr. Zimmerman's unusual solarization technique made some of the closing moments of the 1967 baseball season seem even more exciting than they actually were.