The Philadelphia Flyers won the Stanley Cup the past two years, yet there was no SI cover of them at the time of either championship victory. Montreal wins this year and, presto, you have a full-color cover of Larry Robinson making a Philadelphia player look bad (But Cod Blessed the Canadiens, May 24).
GEORGE M. OCHLAK
God didn't bless Montreal exclusively. Reggie Leach won the Conn Smythe trophy for being "the most valuable player for his team in the entire playoffs." You forgot to mention it.
Thanks for the Bobby Clarke cover and story earlier in the season (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Clarke, Feb. 23), but then you couldn't leave violence out of that article, as though the Flyers invented violence in hockey. When the Canadiens use "intimidation" they are "God blessed." Very interesting.
West Deptford, N.J.
Sure, the Canadiens were the better team. They were near perfect, and they deserved all the attention they got for the way they played and destroyed the Flyers.
June 6, 1976
My objections lie in the totally one-sided story written by J. D. Reed. After all, the Flyers were the two-time defending champions, and they still rank as the second-best team in hockey. I think they deserve credit for that.
But there's more. With all the talk of violence in hockey, although devout hockey fans know it's nothing like it used to be, why did J. D. Reed repeatedly point out how the Flyers were banged around and outmuscled? Why couldn't he write about the superb hockey played by Montreal?
And one last thing. How many fans of the other NHL teams would give the visitors a standing ovation, as Philadelphia fans did, after being defeated in four straight games for the championship? To my way of thinking, that is as much a part of the sport as the game itself.
STEVEN R. GORDON
This year's Stanley Cup finals were the finest display of honest, competitive hockey that I have seen in a long time. However, in my opinion the Philadelphia Flyers will always be the true champions of this game, mainly because it was through the Flyers' "patented" hard-checking style of play that the Canadiens won the series.
Many teams are now revamping their defensive styles of play to match that of the Flyers, and they are finding (through winning) that it is the only way to play. The Flyers have been the target of both the media and hockey fans for being "bullies," but it is clear that if it had been the old, passive Canadiens in the finals, the cup would still be in Philly.
Thanks to J. D. Reed for his praise of Larry Robinson. Robinson was ever-present throughout the playoffs, yet game after game his performance seemed to be passed off as a fluke. Perhaps the all-round team play of the Canadiens is the reason for Robinson's being overlooked, and it may also explain why the Flyers' Reggie Leach was given the MVP nod.
JOHN LIVELY UP
In his article on the Preakness (Then He Spoke for Himself, May 24) William Leggett leaves the reader with the impression that Elocutionist was ridden by owner Gene Cashman by remote control. The unmentioned jockey was John Lively, the leading rider at an Omaha track that is backward only in its name: Ak-Sar-Ben.
Arkansas racing fans were well aware of the potential of Elocutionist, winner of our Arkansas Derby, and his victory in the Preakness verified our faith in him. Also, John Lively has ridden for many years at Arkansas' Oaklawn Park, and though his name is not as well known throughout the country as that of Braulio Baeza or Angel Cordero, he is a professional jockey in every respect.
Pine Bluff, Ark.
SUNSHINE AND SHADOWS
That was a super article on the Phoenix Suns by Curry Kirkpatrick (Have the Suns Risen in the West? Yes, May 24). We here in this great city are on Cloud Nine. We've witnessed a perfect example of what a little patience, a few good front-office moves and unselfishness will do.
J. D. UMLAND
I disagree with the picture that Curry Kirkpatrick painted of Rick Barry in his article on the NBA playoffs. Last year the Warriors won the NBA championship and Barry could do no wrong. This year Golden State is knocked out of the playoffs by a young Phoenix team and Barry is portrayed as a man who is mainly concerned about his outside endorsements.
True, another 8.8 points by Barry would have won the series for the Warriors, but basketball is a team game and Barry alone should not be condemned for the entire team's loss.
THE FREE-THROW RECORD
I am an avid reader of SCORECARD. The other day I was flipping through your Dec. 22-29 issue and noted in SCORECARD that Hal Cohen had set a record for consecutive free throws. This befuddled me because I thought I remembered someone else having done better than Cohen's 598. Sure enough, in your Nov. 4, 1974 "They Said It" you said that Ted St. Martin had set a world record by sinking 927 consecutive free throws.
But then, in your Feb. 24, 1975 SCORE-CARD you stated that Fred Newman, in his quest to sink more consecutive free throws than anyone before him, had missed the mark of consecutive free throws (386) by 24. Now if St. Martin had made 927, how could 386 be the record? The same SCORECARD item further states that in November 1974 Newman had made 1,418 straight free throws. But if St. Martin made 927 after Newman had made 1,418, how could St. Martin have set the record?
Coming back to your Dec. 22-29 issue and Cohen's record 598 consecutive free throws, his total is lower than both St. Martin's and Newman's. This SCORECARD item also says Bunny Levitt had the most free throws in a row by a pro with 499. If Levitt is a pro and none of the others is, his record is safe. Your item further states that the highest previous total by an amateur was 200.
Please tell me what the record is for consecutive free throws—499, 386, 598, 1,418, 200 or 927—and who holds it. I hope you can clear up this confusion.
•O.K., here goes. Harold (Bunny) Levitt was a high school student in Chicago when he sank a record 499 consecutive free throws in a national contest in 1935. What's more, after he missed No. 500, he continued to shoot, making 371 in a row for a grand total of 870 free throws in 871 attempts (99.89%) in 7½ hours. (He might have gone on but at 3 a.m. the janitor closed up and sent the audience home.) Levitt's record, which is recognized by the AAU and is the only one set in competition, went unmatched until 1971, when Ted St. Martin set about becoming a world-title holder. He succeeded with 927 consecutive free throws, and on Feb. 28, 1975 he raised that mark to 1,704, beating Fred Newman's 1,418. But that was in an exhibition. St. Martin also has made 11,932 of 13,151 free throws (90.73%) during a 24-hour demonstration and 6,698 of 6,800 in eight hours, for 98.5% of 850 shots per hour. On the basis of the latter performance, St. Martin claims to be the "world's fastest shooter with accuracy." His 24-hour record, however, has been broken by Newman, who last year was successful on 12,874 of 13,116 tries (98.15%) from the foul line, also in an exhibition. As for Hal Cohen, he made his string of 598 free throws during a high school practice session and reportedly still holds the record in that "category." There are a couple of other marks to aim for, too. On May 18, 1972, at Maine East High School in Park Ridge, Ill., John T. Sebastian, a 50-year-old trick-shot artist and driver-education teacher, made 63 free throws in a row while blindfolded, and another trick-shot specialist named Wilfred Hetzel, who used to try to beat Bunny Levitt in free-throw contests between halves of Harlem Globetrotter games, is noted in the record books for making 144 straight while standing on one foot.—ED.
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