WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED
The SPORTS ILLUSTRATED cover jinx seems to have set a new speed record. The day your Oct. 25 Pro Basketball Issue appeared we New Yorkers lost the incomparable Dr. J to the Philadelphia 76ers.
New York City
The Doctor signed for $3.5 million. If you want to jinx me like that, I'll send you an 8x10 glossy.
Not since Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to help finance his theatrical interests has an act so darkened the American sports scene as the sale of Dr. J to Philadelphia. SI's Oct. 25 cover vividly reminds us that pro athletes today are mercenaries available to the millionaire with the biggest bankroll. The players are not really to blame for this; our avaricious system is.
THOMAS E. HILTON
The Doctor and Nets Owner Roy Boe will each be making $3 million from the deal with Philadelphia, so don't shed any tears for them. Weep instead for the Nets players and fans. We thought that this was the year that would bring an NBA championship to Long Island, but with the sale of Dr. J our dreams have been destroyed.
WARREN A. COHEN
November 8, 1976
The real culprit is neither Roy Boe nor Julius Erving, who are businessmen first. It is the NBA itself that should be criticized. By not stepping in to support Boe and require Erving to honor his contract, the league has, in effect, invalidated the contracts of other superstars, who are now at liberty to insist that their clubs renegotiate their contracts or trade them.
The good businessmen in the league ought to realize that this is not a moral issue, but one that threatens business stability.
Port Washington, N.Y.
BEST OF THE REST
Congratulations to Curry Kirkpatrick on his excellent preview of the 1976-77 NBA season (A Season for All Men, Oct. 25). As a Denver native and charter ABA fan, I was shocked to find, upon moving to Phoenix, that people really don't know about Bobby Jones, Ron Boone, Billy Knight and the rest of the incoming ABA stars. Kirkpatrick's report has shed some light on these fine athletes, and their ability on the court will take care of the rest. Dave Cowens will be surprised by the "Ice Man," George Gervin.
Curry Kirkpatrick said it best when he quoted Jerry West: "Denver could win it all."
I hope the crowds around the old circuit will adopt the four new franchises as readily as SI has. And thanks for the Allan Mardon illustrations. Ever since the story on Albert King (Uneasy Rise of a Brooklyn Star, Aug. 23) I have been looking forward to seeing more of his work. Your art director, Richard Gangel, must be a genius to consistently come up with such exciting artwork.
Jackson Heights, N.Y.
Thanks for picking the Warriors to stay on top in the Pacific Division. But how dare you portray Rick Barry (page 40) with a receding hairline when everyone knows by now that he sports a full head of hair, via a hair weave. Does this mean that you might someday show Humble Howard without his toupee?
San Mateo, Calif.
Let's set one thing straight. It doesn't matter if Artis Gilmore, the ABA's best center, is better than towering Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, because the best center in basketball happens to have red hair, wear a green and white uniform and be on the best team in the NBA—the Boston Celtics.
I think you failed to give proper credit to the performance of the Cleveland Cavaliers in their playoff series against Washington. Cleveland outplayed the Bullets head-to-head during the regular season, and it was the team's tenacious defense, not a "slide" by the Bullets, that shut off the vaunted Washington fast break in the playoffs.
As for the Cavaliers being "less talented" than Washington, I am sure that K. C. Jones could tell you which was the superior team.
I read with dismay Dan Jenkins' account of the Dallas-St. Louis game (Can't Anybody Catch the Football? Oct. 25). Jenkins failed to mention that "the recently lamented Cardinal defense" sacked Roger Staubach four times. If Jenkins had studied earlier Cardinal games as well as he studied the Cowboys' previous games, he would have noted that this was the finest offensive and defensive effort by the Big Red this year, not just a case of Dallas errors. It's a shame Jenkins cannot admit that the Cardinals are one of the better teams in the NFL. They have won the Eastern Division title over the Cowboys the last two years, and that was not because the Cowboys wore their unlucky blue jerseys.
If Dan Jenkins wants to talk about "ifs," how about including the Cardinals? If Mel Gray had not stepped out of bounds after receiving a Jim Hart pass, he would have had clear sailing for a touchdown. If Ike Harris had not dropped a pass in the first half after having beaten the defender, the Cards would have had another six points. And if Hart had not thrown two interceptions in or near the end zone, there would have been still more points for the Cardinals.
The Cowboys were outplayed and out-scored by the Cardinals 21-17.
FRANK T. DELURGIO
Congratulations on the terrific article on University of Wyoming football (Seldom Is Heard a Discouraging Word, Oct. 25). John Underwood captured the gusto of the state's inhabitants and their devotion to Cowboy football. It is interesting to note that despite the "Black 14" incident, the seven years of drought, etc., two graduates of the 1975 team (2-9) were first-round NFL picks: Lawrence Gaines (Detroit) and Aaron Kyle (Dallas). Truest of all is that we who have been residents of Wyoming and graduates of UW will always cherish the experience.
Webster City, Iowa
Have you noted the fact that 1976 was the Year of the Third Baseman? How often has it happened that players at one position (especially infielders) have won both major league batting titles and both home-run crowns, as did George Brett, Bill Madlock, Graig Nettles and Mike Schmidt? What is ironic is that perhaps the game's best overall third baseman, Pete Rose of the Reds, is not on this select list.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
I don't know how many people have noticed this, but the Yankees' victory over the Royals in the American League playoff marked the first time since the current playoff system was established in 1969 that the team that won the second game of the playoff went on to lose the pennant.
MARK A. BRADLEY
John Nielsen's article Ditching the Dream (Oct. 25) really opened the door to the sport of ballooning. For the first time I read of the complexities of ballooning, as well as of the knowledge required of one attempting a major balloon flight. As far as I'm concerned, Ed Yost made a gallant effort, and SI gave him the attention he deserved.
EDWARD W. HOLLEMAN
Santa Clara, Calif.
In reference to your article Dangerous Delusion (Oct. 18), I would like to make a couple of comments. I agree that if a student should involve himself with an "unAmericanized" form of karate, chances are that he will be less able to defend himself than before. It is correct to assume that the Oriental methods are fairly inept when it comes to defense. But the pragmatic attitude of the better American instructors has made it possible for karate to be used as an effective self-defense tool, and in a much shorter time than Richard W. Johnston might expect.
Consequently, I believe there is a point in taking up karate solely for purposes of self-defense. Most people who stay with their lessons for more than a year stay for other reasons, but they should definitely be able to defend themselves after studying at a qualified Americanized school for that period of time. Americanized in this sense means that many of the illogical, irrational and superfluous movements of the traditional Oriental styles of karate have been deleted in favor of fighting techniques that will work in our society in 1976.
Let me suggest that those interested in self-defense search out a good Americanized school so that they may learn realistic techniques and at the same time develop their own American philosophy regarding karate.
World Professional Karate Commission
I am not particularly a fan of gymnastics, but I was amazed and enchanted by the excellence displayed by Nadia Comaneci of Romania in her beautiful and artistic gymnastics routines in Montreal. I nominate her for Sportswoman of the Year.
JOHN E. BOWLEY JR.
I nominate Dorothy Hamill.
The only natural choice for Sportsman of the Year is Bruce Jenner.
DAVID E. OELLERICH
Olympic cross-country skier Bill Koch. He did more for sports, America and the world than any of us yet realizes.
Fort Collins, Colo.
Central Islip, N.Y.
The U.S. Olympic boxing team.
G. RUSSELL TAPPAN
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
ASK A SILLY QUESTION...
In the recent article Regulated to the Bench, Sportswise (Sept. 27) Edwin Newman mentioned a game in which sportswriters ask a question about a subject other than sport and then answer it with a sports cliché. Allow me to offer a few possibilities.
BASEBALL: Q. What did Little Bo Peep say when she was asked how she got her sheep back?
A. I call them as I see them.
Q. How did the guilty husband return to his house after a night on the town?
A. He stole home.
Q. How does a boa constrictor wring out a sponge?
A. He puts on a squeeze play.
Q. How did the puppeteer get the puppet to move his leg?
A. He really pulled the string on that one.
Q. Why is that child eating his ice cream over the table?
A. He can't get it over the plate.
Q. What happened to Icarus' wing?
A. He lost it in the sun.
FOOTBALL: Q. Why is that farmer on the tractor so happy?
A. He has good field position.
Q. What took the carpenter so long to put a hole in a piece of wood?
A. He used a two-minute drill.
Q. What does a woman derelict use to make her clothes?
A. A down-and-out pattern.
Q. Why is that actor shouting "Hamlet!"?
A. He is calling the play.
TENNIS: Q. HOW did you capture that butterfly?
A. He rushed the net.
Q. What distinguishes a good waiter from a bad one?
A. He's got a great first serve.
BASKETBALL: Q. Why would Santa Claus have been a good basketball player?
A. He is a master of the old give and go.
BOXING: Q. What is that woman doing in the swimming pool with a loom?
A. She is bobbing and weaving.
GOLF: Q. What caused the caveman to fracture his girl friend's skull as he dragged her home to his cave?
A. He overclubbed.
CHRISTOPHER S. UNDERHILL
Here is one overheard prior to the opening of a lithography exhibit in Victorian England:
Q. We've been able to have the English printers set up in the Great Hall and have put the Germans in the old dining room. But, what about the Irish?
A. The Celtics will press in the backcourt.
Q. What did the construction workers do when they discovered after completing a new motor-transport garage that they had forgotten to leave a door?
A. They opened up a hole big enough to drive a truck through.
Q. What do you call a dance held in a 747 at 30,000 feet?
A. A high fly ball.
WILLIAM H. LARSON
Address editorial mail to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, New York, 10020.