JOHNSON, BIRD & CO.
How appropriate that you started the college basketball season with a cover photograph of an Earvin (Magic) Johnson dunk (Nov. 27). We Michigan State fans knew you would have to end the season with another one (April 2).
Let's hope that next year Magic Johnson won't be in the NBA, so that he will again be able to grace your cover on the NCAA finals wearing the green and white of Michigan State.
I congratulate Larry Keith for his fine article on the finals of the NCAA tournament (They Caged the Bird, April 2). I was glad to see that Terry Donnelly was given his due. I feel that Donnelly, not Earvin Johnson, deserved the MVP award. Donnelly was 5 for 5 from the field and 5 for 6 from the line—a good night of shooting for anyone.
When Gregory Kelser got into foul trouble in the second half, Johnson tried to do it all by himself, and Indiana State got back into the game.
April 16, 1979
I am glad to see that college basketball is still a team sport and not an individual one, as the pros try to make it. As Larry Keith shows in his article, the team will beat the individual almost every time.
WILLIAM D. CORBIN
I was relieved to discover that someone else saw 10 men on the court. It seems the majority of our distinguished American press was unable to detect the presence of others besides Earvin Johnson and Larry Bird.
DEAN M. SANDERSON
Larry Keith says that Michigan State is a "superb team—perhaps even a great one." His assessment of the Spartans' Magic Show is complimentary, yet surprisingly timid. It is hard to imagine anyone hesitating to call this team great. Greatness is determined by performance, and Michigan State's credentials are staggering. The Spartans blitzed through the NCAA tournament like a runaway steamroller, defeating five teams, three from the Top Ten, by a total of 104 points. That's an average victory margin of nearly 21 points. As for their six regular-season losses, five of them came at the buzzer. Very few teams have equaled Michigan State's performance. Those that have, have been considered great. Why not go all the way and add the '79 Spartans to the list?
R. E. NAKFOOR
Adolph Rupp once said that a perfect game for a basketball player would be "...36 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists." Larry Bird is the first player I have ever seen who came close: 35 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists against DePaul in a game won by two points. I believe I have seen the perfect basketball player.
ARTON N. SMITH
Pleasant Hill, Calif.
You broke my heart when you said in your March 26 article And Finally There Are Four that Gregory Kelser has been dunking since he was a 5'10" 14-year-old. I'm 14 and 5'10", and I can't even touch the rim!
In the April 2 SCORECARD item "Political Basketball," you questioned the whereabouts of Kentucky's two Senators during the debate between Utah and Indiana over which state could claim the greatest support of college basketball.
Since our state's interest in basketball is much greater than that of any other—a fact pointed out by SPORTS ILLUSTRATED—you should certainly understand our reluctance to use valuable time on the Senate floor simply to restate the obvious.
WALTER D. HUDDLESTON
WENDELL H. FORD
United States Senate
I must commend Dwight Stones and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for the candid article This Stones Left None Unturned (April 2). It brings to light questions that have been in my mind for years. Is it fair that our amateur athletes must compete with foreign "amateur" athletes who are subsidized by their governments for what they do? No! Is it fair that these foreign "amateur" athletes are able to practice their sports day in and day out, while being paid by their governments, when our athletes must practice between whatever jobs they have to hold to make a living? No! And how can the Soviet hockey team be allowed to compete in the Olympics when it is also allowed to play U.S. professional teams for money?
I have always been a great fan of Stones, and Ron Reid's article has not changed that at all. I admire Stones' courage in coming forward as he did. I can only hope that more athletes will follow his lead and do the same Maybe then the AAU and other amateur sports organizations will realize that suspending Stones and other athletes in his situation is a great injustice. These talented men and women are only doing what they must to survive in the world of "amateur" sports. In Jim Thorpe and Stones, not to mention others, we have lost two great competitors, sportsmen and personalities. It would be a shame to lose any more.
Cos Cob, Conn.
Dwight Stones is one of the best athletes track and field has ever seen, and worth every penny he can get. Besides, can you blame him?
Dwight Stones stooped awfully low in the high jump. It is never a high note to hear that someone failed to toe the mark when others have done so. I remember the Mike Agostini sham reported in SI (My Take-Home Pay as an Amateur Sprinter, Jan. 30, 1961). And I still think that the retort by miler and steeple-chaser Phil Coleman in support of the simon-pure amateur (Idea of an Amateur, March 6, 1961) was the best and final word on the subject—from SI or anyone else. Coleman concluded: "If Mike Agostini wants to get paid for his sport, I will let him. If the time comes when track is run on a semiprofessional basis, I'll be relieved that my friends who want to earn money can do it openly without fear of expulsion. I do ask of the Mike Agostinis that they stop implying that because they do something, everybody does, and insisting that because they do it, it's right."
REID K. MARTIN
I had forgotten just how successful Gene Conley was in his dual career as a major league pitcher and a center-forward in the NBA until I read Michael Hilton's account (Doubling His Pleasure, April 2). And in addition to his athletic ability, Conley displayed a real sense of humor. He was a practical joker without ever hurting anyone in the process. What with inflation, pollution, threats of nuclear disasters and other pressures and problems, we need more people like Conley. A little levity goes a long way these days!
WILLIAM A. MARKS
One day when I went to Fenway Park last season, someone in the stands hung out a banner that said, WHERE'S GENE CONLEY WHEN WE NEED HIM? Thanks to Michael Hilton for answering the question.
New Bedford, Mass.
Here is one for trivia fans. Who started at center for Boston on Feb. 27, 1959 at Boston Garden when the Celtics scored the most points ever in an NBA game? Answer: Gene Conley, who subbed for an injured Bill Russell. The Celtics beat the Minneapolis Lakers 173-139.
As a boy who grew up only a few blocks from Connie Mack Stadium, I remember Gene Conley as nothing but a first class guy. He would always stop to sign autographs or to chat with the newspaper boys outside the park. There was one Sunday afternoon I will never forget. "Big Gene" was pitching in relief in the second game of a doubleheader and when his turn came to bat and he took a swing at the ball, his bat broke into several pieces. One piece flew into the stands and hit my friend. After the game Conley showed up at the first-aid station and took my friend home in a cab. How many big-leaguers would do that today?
Even when the Celtics came to Philadelphia to play against the old Philadelphia Warriors I would always secretly root for Conley against the home club.
MICHAEL F. TORPEY
In the photograph of Gene Conley as a Milwaukee Braves pitcher, who is the batter? I have a bet going with my cleaning lady. She says it's Junior Gilliam of the Dodgers. I think it's Ernie Banks of the Cubs. Who's right? Stakes are high. If she wins, I clean the house next week. If I win, she starts doing windows!
ROY BROWN HALE
•Put away your mop, but forget about the windows, too. According to the Sept. 17, 1956 issue of LIFE, in which the picture first appeared, the batter is Sandy Amoros of the Dodgers.—ED.
In his preview of the North American Soccer League season (Not Settling for Hamburger, March 26), J. D. Reed said that the Cosmos would once again be the champions. He then stated that the rest of the teams would have to catch up to the Cosmos and their multimillion-dollar payroll.
The Vancouver Whitecaps, whose 24-6 record was identical to the Cosmos' last season, had no superstars except for Kevin Hector. And none of the players had million-dollar contracts. Yet Bob Lenarduzzi was named North American Player of the Year!
Reed also mentioned that the Whitecaps had a majority of British players, as if that were a sin. Look at the Cosmos. They have many foreign players on their roster.
The 'Caps have signed their first genuine world-class superstar, Willie Johnston, and now they will go all the way!
Vancouver, British Columbia
It is obvious that the Cosmos look awesome. But may I remind you that in last year's playoffs the Cosmos lost a game to the Minnesota Kicks 9-2.
I have seen the Cosmos play on a couple of occasions and am an avid follower of NASL soccer. However, I believe that your preview was highly one-sided and that it did not even mention some of the quality players around the league.
Why were the Memphis Rogues so downgraded in J. D. Reed's NASL preview? Reed must still be sore about the 1-0 defeat the Cosmos suffered at the hands (or should I say feet?) of the Rogues last season. A fluke victory? No way! Our Rogues are fabulous!
Your remarks about the Rochester Lancers were uncalled for. If you would stop looking at the Lancers as a thorn in the league's side, you might find out how good a team Rochester has.
JOHN W. REIS
Cosmos or no Cosmos, soccer will never really catch on in North America for one principal reason. The games are too low-scoring. In game after game, the long-suffering soccer fan is expected to settle for the subtleties of ball control and so-called "duels" between all-too-capable goalies. Though purists will cry foul, I recommend one simple rule change to solve this problem: widen the goal mouth by, say, 12 feet. Soccer in North America would immediately take on new color and flamboyance if 11-8 barn-burners were the order of the day rather than 3-1 yawners.
DANIEL W. SHENK
Fort Dodge, Iowa
GOODELL & CO.
Re your article Good Show by Goodell (April 2), the announcer at the NCAA swimming championships is not the only person who might be accused of displaying an ardent pro-Brian Goodell bias. Jerry Kirshenbaum elected to devote 20 of his story's 23 paragraphs to Goodell. while Tennessee's Andy Coan also set two American records and Cal's Graham Smith also won three individual events in addition to swimming a leg on a victorious relay team, thereby winning one more gold medal than Goodell. While Goodell is an awesomely talented athlete and will probably be unbeatable in Moscow, the fortunes of U.S. men's swimming do not rise and fall with his health or malaise. And, as evidenced by its fifth-place NCAA finish, neither do UCLA's.
San Jose, Calif.
Iowa won the NCAA wrestling championship and got two pages of coverage in SI. California won the NCAA swimming championship, which got four pages of coverage. Michigan State won the NCAA basketball championship and got the April 2 cover and four pages. But Herb Brooks' Minnesota Gophers won the NCAA hockey championship and received a mere three lines in FOR THE RECORD (April 2). People in Minnesota are proud of their Gophers' three NCAA hockey championships in the past six years. Ours is a Minnesota-bred all-American team.
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