Pat Putnam and John Papanek did an excellent job in their articles on the ABA championship and the game's most exciting—and greatest—player: Julius Erving (The Doctor Opens Up His Medicine Bag, May 17). New York and Denver played a superb series, and although no one got to see them on national TV, you exposed them to everyone through your cover story.
About that cover jinx of yours. Both times Julius Erving has appeared on your cover he has gone on to win the MVP award, and the Nets have won the ABA championship. It looks as though SI's cover is the right medicine for the Doctor and his teammates.
Your May 17 cover shows something I have never seen before. Julius Erving's feet do touch the ground once in a while, don't they?
Bridgeport, W. Va.
Pat Putnam restored my faith in the now-ailing ABA with his account of Dr. J and the championship series. I am all for a merger between the ABA and NBA if that is the only way we will be able to see such an exceptional player on TV.
Remember Julius Erving come Sportsman of the Year award time.
MICHAEL ANTHONY BAILEY
John Papanek informed readers that when "ABA publicist Jim Bukata said someone had written that high school star Darrell Griffith and [David] Thompson were the only two humans who could execute a midair 360-degree turn and slam dunk," Dr. J "considered the question...took three steps, flew into the air, spun 360 degrees" and dunked, making it three.
Two years ago we had on our team a young man named Carlos Mina (currently playing professional ball in Italy) who performed the "Mina 360" with regularity. So please add a fourth.
Assistant Basketball Coach
Long Beach State
Long Beach, Calif.
In regard to your article concerning the Muhammad Ali-Jimmy Young heavyweight title bout (The Champ Looked Like a Chump, May 10), Young definitely won the fight and therefore should have been awarded the championship of the world. Nowhere does it say that a challenger has to knock the champ down or out; all he has to do is defeat him, which Young obviously did.
I thoroughly enjoyed Mark Kram's article on the Ali-Young fight. However, I honestly think Young should now be world heavyweight champion. I hope he gets another shot at the title.
JOHN L. SHUSTER
Flat Rock, Ala.
My compliments on your article about Vic Braden ("Tennis Is in the Stone Age," May 10). Indeed, tennis and most other sports are in the Stone Age regarding application of scientific methods. Tennis magazines tend to reject concepts derived from objective data analysis because these concepts have not come from within the professional tennis ranks. Therefore no new concept can be introduced until it has been adopted by a professional—about a decade after the original synthesis of the idea.
The article on Braden also shows that a humanitarian spirit is compatible with an interest in precise mechanical analysis of sports skills.
M. L. JOHNSON
Thanks for the article on Vic Braden, a super guy and totally committed person. I completed his Tennis College in March and look forward to returning for some "postgraduate" work.
Santa Monica, Calif.
Maybe expounding Vic Braden's tennis philosophy wasn't the purpose of Frank Deford's article, but why can't there be further articles giving details of this new approach to the game? Wouldn't everyone benefit, including Braden?
The article was a good character study, but I certainly didn't learn anything more about how to play tennis than I knew when I started reading it.
I agree with Vic Braden that there probably is much that can be learned concerning the mechanics of tennis strokes.
Your caption to the wonderful multiple exposures of Braden hitting a forehand and backhand drive, which begins: "Ideally hit, backhand and forehand are mirror images," continues to bother me, however. It seems to me that the shoulder movement is entirely different in the two strokes. In the forehand the shoulder rotates basically counterclockwise and the swing is "up and around" from 3 to 12 o'clock. In the backhand the body turns around, but the shoulder rotation is still counterclockwise and thus "down and up," or from 9 to 6 for a slice backhand and from 6 to 3 for the top spin that you show.
At any rate, my backhand improved greatly when the above thoughts occurred to me.
Ron Fimrite has given us a fresh taste of truly objective reporting (VIEWPOINT, May 17). The regional stereotype, as Fimrite points out, is invalid. But let it be said that at times SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, too, has been most instrumental in perpetuating these stereotypes. I hope other writers and editors will heed Fimrite's incisive commentary. As for the Newsweek article and similar pieces, may they be put to use lining the bottoms of "regional" birdcages.
KEVIN J. MALLOY
Like Ron Fimrite, I read the piece in Newsweek concerning California. As a former Californian (I lived there for 11 years), I agree wholeheartedly that "the regional stereotype is invalid." However, Fimrite is a victim of his own criticism. There exists an ill-conceived idea that the cities of Boston and San Francisco are bastions of sophistication and culture while Miami and Los Angeles are sun-baked careless nowheres. Fimrite's statement that San Francisco "has as much in common with Los Angeles as, say, Boston has with Miami" evokes those stereotypes and is as unfair and untrue as the opinion in Newsweek.
That opinions are often based upon clichés is an unfortunate truism. How many of your readers will believe that I do not clear hayseed from my ears before I go to the theater in Kansas City?
Overland Park, Kans.
When I was three years of age and my brother was nine weeks old, we embarked on an adventure similar to that of the Abernathy brothers (Roughriding Rover Boys, May 17). With Jeff riding a duck and myself a broom, we rode from Mexico City to Anchorage, Alaska in three days (we didn't miss one light). Carrying only travelers checks we did the best we could for milk and diapers.
Our father had previously become famous by catching great white sharks bare-handed. He used a technique very much like the one Jack Abernathy used with wolves, holding the shark's lower jaw down so the shark couldn't bite. He wore only a thin glove on his hand (the thinner the better).
Later we were offered $1 million if we could cross the continent in one week riding wild rats. We were six seconds late and were not awarded the money. The only ones waiting for us at the end of our journey were our father and a few interested cats. No kidding.
•The Abernathys' feats, though hard to believe, are well documented.—ED.
In your Baseball Issue (April 12) you correctly pictured Henry Aaron wearing No. 5 as a rookie. However, you did not show a rookie picture for Joe DiMaggio, the most famous No. 5 in baseball history, although you discussed his fine rookie year. Would you have recalled that he did not wear No. 5 then? He wore No. 9.
DAVID P. HAWKINS
New York City
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