Pat Putnam's article on the Ali-Spinks fight (He's the Greatest, I'm the Best, Feb. 27) sent chills up and down my spine. Could any man have defeated Muhammad Ali and accepted the WBC belt more gallantly than Leon Spinks did—first, by thanking the Lord for his victory and then by pointing out that, although he is now the best, his man Ali is still the greatest? In my mind Leon Spinks is a first-class world champion.
I applaud Pat Putnam for his sensitivity. He praised and honored the new champion while reminding us that the man Spinks beat is a good individual whose dignity can never be taken away from him. The article was written from the heart and touched the hearts of those who read it.
Doesn't it seem possible that somewhere in the script of the incredible life of Muhammad Ali there is a chapter telling how he came back against all odds to win the title for an unprecedented third time? You gotta believe!
I am a Muhammad Ali fan, and always will be, but I feel no regret after his loss to Leon Spinks. My only regret is that there are still some people who will not accept Ali or his legend. Those who have magnified his faults and defeats and belittled his accomplishments are the true losers. Through their ignorance they have been unable to appreciate the greatest fighter ever and a kind man who has given much of himself in the ring.
March 13, 1978
Walter Bingham's article Let's Ring Out the Old and Ring in the New (Feb. 27) was very well done. I hope Jim Ferrier and his over-the-hill buddies will realize that they are only defeating the game by continuing to compete in the major golf tournaments once they are past their prime. They should step aside and give young players like Dave Nevatt and Curtis Strange a chance to prove their competitiveness.
As a former high school bench warmer in some sports and a star in others, I offer a solution to the PGA's dilemma. Allow pros with lifetime exemptions to participate in any tournament simply by informing the PGA of their intentions four to six weeks in advance of the tournament and then expand the field to accommodate them. The young players need a break; the former stars need respect.
WILLIAM KLING JR.
Why does a pro golf tournament have to have exactly 144 spots? If an old pro wants to play, let him, but continue to leave 144 spots for "active" players. If five old players show up, start the tournament with 149. Such an adjustment should not be too difficult for the PGA to handle.
EAST IS EAST, AND...
Anchorage, Alaska in the Eastern Basketball Association (North for Sure, but Also East, Feb. 27)? That's absurd! The latitude and longitude of Anchorage are 61 degrees 10 minutes North and 149 degrees 45 minutes West. If people in Anchorage want some basketball competition, why don't they form a Western Basketball Association?
I have checked it out in my atlas and am satisfied that the Anchorage Northern Knights belong in the Eastern Basketball Association, but I'm still trying to figure out how Florida State winds up in the Midwest section of your college basketball rankings (BASKETBALL'S WEEK, Feb. 27).
•SI's geographical grouping of basketball teams is geared to coincide with the regions in which they or their conference representatives are likely to appear in the NCAA tournament. Florida State is a member of the Metro 7 (see page 51), whose tournament champion has an automatic berth in the NCAA's Midwest Regional playoffs.—ED.
The article on the Northern Knights triggered memories of the two summers (1951-52) I spent in Anchorage as the player-manager of a semipro baseball team. One year a House of David team, consisting mostly of Big Ten players and a few pros, came to town to trounce the "Eskimo" All-Stars. The visitors had little time to clown that day. We thrashed them but good in a doubleheader. Our college players, who hailed from the West Coast, were more talented than the bearded boys from Benton Harbor. Some Eskimos we were! Then there was the time we played the Fairbanks All-Stars. The game began at midnight—without lights.
LOUIS L. TUCKER
Wellesley Hills, Mass.
DR. SCAFF'S MARATHON
From one speck in that sea of faces shown in the photograph on page 62 of the start of the Honolulu Marathon (The Rules of the Road, Feb. 27) comes this warm aloha and mahalo for the article. I didn't go to his Honolulu Marathon Clinic, but I picked up many of my training tips from people who learned "the rules" from Dr. Jack Scaff, and I managed a safe, if slow, first marathon.
As a novice in the twin disciplines of writing and running, I can only admire and envy Kenny Moore for his abilities in both. Eve composed several letters in recent months to thank you for his articles, but this is the first that has made it all the way through the typewriter without hitting "the wall."
The Honolulu Marathon story was just great. It's the best how-to, inspirational one this beginner (for the last 10 years) has read. And Eve read a few.
DANIEL JUSTMAN, M.D.
New York City
Being, I suspect, the only male 215-pound finisher of last year's New York and Honolulu marathons, I feel qualified to give you an index of their relative difficulty. In New York I finished in three hours and 39 minutes, while in Honolulu I labored for four hours and 28 minutes. To the Honolulu Marathon Clinic, mahalo. However, there is no business like New York City show business. The 800,000 spectators who cheered us on made New York's the No. 1 marathon.
CLARENCE B. KUGLER IV
In SCORECARD (Feb. 13) you cited a sports puzzle from "of all places, The Farmer's Almanac for 1978."
Almanacs have carried puzzles for centuries, so we don't think it is quite fair for you to use the phrase "of all places."
And speaking of fairness, it would have been nice, when you republished our puzzle without asking for permission, to at least have referred to our real name, The Old Farmer's Almanac of Dublin, N.H., America's oldest continuous publication.
The Old Farmer's Almanac
Perhaps William Leggett is forgetting that in the interim between Geronimo and jockey Darrel McHargue (He Hasn't Got the Horse Right There, Feb. 20), a rider named Bobby Ussery came out of Oklahoma to win a couple of Kentucky Derbys, a few New York Racing Association jockey titles and millions in purses. Having seen them both (McHargue and Ussery, not McHargue and Geronimo), I'd sooner place my $2 on Ussery's mount.
IN THE PASSENGER SEAT
Being an auto-racing fan, I have attended many NASCAR and USAC 500-mile races, but one question has always remained unanswered, that being how it would feel to actually take a lap around one of those tracks in a stock car at racing speeds. Thanks to Sam Moses (The World Is Small at 185 MPH, Feb. 20), my question has been answered.
I disagree with your vote for Walter Davis as Rookie of the Year (It's Whoooosh! Boom! Whoop! Time, Feb. 20). Marques Johnson is my choice. He may average fewer points than Davis, but Davis doesn't dominate play the way Marques does. Also Phoenix is an experienced team, while Milwaukee is more dependent on players with less experience.
Walter Davis truly is the outstanding rookie in the NBA. But to go so far as to say that he has "transformed the Phoenix Suns from a last-place team to a championship contender" is going too far. The Suns' downfall last year, after reaching the championship series in 1976, was the result of injuries to key players, not a lack of talent.
MARK M. MEDEIROS
Saying that Laker Guard Norm Nixon is playing surprisingly well is not only the understatement of the year, but is also the only time you mentioned this outstanding rookie. He doesn't get half the recognition he should, because he doesn't average more than 20 points a game. With the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Adrian Dantley on the same team, what can you expect? Nixon does more than his share of the chores by being third in the league in assists, an outstanding defensive player and the team "quarterback." He should be the NBA Rookie of the Year.
Your article on the NBA rookies must have offended every New Jerseyite who subscribes to SI. You refer to Bernard King's situation in New Jersey as an "entrapment." Judging from his statements, King doesn't seem to mind his so-called entrapment.
Right after the article came out, the "incomparably horrible" Nets won three in a row and four out of five. In the last of those games, King's "inmates," as Curry Kirkpatrick calls them, beat the Seattle SuperSonics without King, who had the flu. With the reacquisition of "Super John" Williamson, and at least one good draft pick for 1978, the Nets' future doesn't look so bad.
Your stereotyped description of New Jersey was very accurate as far as North Jersey is concerned, but to saddle South Jersey with these slanderous remarks is unforgivable. The proud residents of South Jersey couldn't careless about the Mafia, soot, tunnels or the Piscataway Nets. The team to root for in South Jersey is the Philadelphia 76ers. From now on, please refer to that mess to our north as North Jersey.
W. SCOTT SAPP
Mount Holly, South Jersey
Recently I read in your magazine about a high school team that traveled 300 miles round trip to play its first-ever interscholastic basketball game (SCORECARD, Jan. 30). Compared to our travel schedule, 300 miles is a close game. I coach basketball in rural Alaska and this year our Glennallen High School Panthers traveled more than 10,000 miles. We went from Glennallen to Valdez (230 miles round trip), to Barrow (1,700 miles), to Adak (3,000 miles, as you noted in your Feb. 20 FACES IN THE CROWD), to Seldovia twice (2,000 miles), to Ninilchik (1,000 miles) and to Fairbanks (500 miles). We also made some miscellaneous trips of a few hundred miles or so. We have driven every highway in the state, traveled by a crab boat, by commercial and bush airlines, by bus and by private car.
ILENE V. HIRSH
Girls' Varsity Coach
Glennallen High School
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