When I was a youth, I so idolized Rick Barry that I obtained his autograph not just once but four times. Yet the disdain others felt for him was apparent to me. I understood why they didn't appreciate him, but I never figured out why the anti-Barry sentiment was so widespread, until I read Tony Kornheiser's piece (A Voice Crying in the Wilderness, April 25).
I believe many people misunderstood Barry because they were simply ignorant of, or unwilling to comprehend, his total being. It's significant that truly intelligent and sensitive people like Bill King, Tom Meschery, Butch Beard and Julius Erving see past Barry's abrasive exterior.
Fortunately, it appears that Barry is gaining "sight of himself," to borrow Meschery's words. Barry used to be marvelous in finding a way to the basket. I hope he'll now find a way to happiness.
Twin Falls, Idaho
A college friend of mine and I spent what seems to have been an endless number of evenings discussing "Who was the better college player, Rick Barry or Bill Bradley?" I don't know if we ever settled the argument, but he named his son after Bradley and I named mine Rick Felsen! Please tell Barry that someone loves him.
PAUL E. FELSEN
May 8, 1983
I'll never forget the day when, as a teenager, I was wandering near the old Madison Square Garden and happened to see Rick Barry. I called to him and jokingly asked if he had any tickets for the game that night, and guess what? He reached into his jacket and gave me four and told me to "enjoy the game." I'd like to finally say thank you for those tickets. I was so shocked at the time that I just grabbed them and walked off.
Takoma Park, Md.
For five years, Rick Barry was a guest lecturer at the Eastern Basketball Camp in Moodus, Conn. at the same time he was participating in the Sammy Davis Jr. Greater Hartford Open golf tournament, and his theories on shooting and his rapport with the kids were special. Barry always answered our requests that he come by saying, "I will do it for the kids." Money was never discussed, yet the trip to the camp must have been an inconvenience for him. Although we paid him the going rate for his time, he helped us because he really is a good guy.
Eastern Sports Services
If your article was supposed to make me feel sorry for Rick Barry, it didn't work. Sleeping until 10, a few hours of "business," a little tennis, a month in Palm Springs to improve his tan—it sounds like a fantasy to me. Maybe he should be thankful for what he has. If the public doesn't adore him, it's his fault.
DAVID W. KELLY
Rick Barry jumped ship—or tried to—on the Oakland Oaks-Washington Caps-Virginia Squires and the Warriors (twice). He played for five teams in five years under three contracts—and twice had simultaneous contracts with NBA and ABA teams. Simply put, he's the Benedict Arnold of Hoops.
I was shocked and appalled by your story on Rick Barry. The narcissism portrayed is more likely to be found in a teen-aged beach boy than in a 39-year-old man. Has Barry ever had a thought not concerned with himself? I think the answer is no, in spite of the writer's attempt to excuse his many insufferable actions and words.
If he wants to be a coach, let him start at the high school or junior college level and work his way up to the NBA, if he's good enough. If he wants to be a sportscaster, let him work at a local station and build a portfolio that would land him a network job. Why should he start out at the top?
And if he really wants the respect—let alone love—of others, why doesn't he give up his soap operas and start running free clinics for ghetto kids? Or volunteer to run the state's United Way campaign? Until Barry decides to join the adult world, maybe Jim Palmer could get him a job modeling underwear.
KAY SCHAEF SCANLAN
I'm no baseball fan, but I am a Steve Garvey fan (It Was Too Good To Be True, April 25). As a mother and a teacher, I feel our society should promote men like Garvey as real-life, modern-day heroes. Children need to see that there still exist people of fame who have principles and integrity. It doesn't matter whether Garvey wears "American" red, white and blue or "taco" brown, we could use more of what he is—even if that is, as Steve Wulf wrote, a little "hokey and Hollywood and hammy and cheesy and wonderful."
CATHERINE E. SPENCER
Hacienda Heights, Calif.
If Steve (I'm Just a Simple, Dedicated Man) Garvey loved the Dodgers and their fans so much, why did he reject $5 million for four years? It seems to me the Dodgers made a generous offer to a man who claims, "In the end I felt they didn't want me."
NOT JUST FOR PEETE'S SAKE
As a longtime Masters golf tournament spectator, I was struck by Kenny Moore's timely and accurate portrayal of Calvin Peete (His Was a Great Act of Faith, April 25). Although Peete had a terrible time at Augusta, shooting a horrendous 87 in the third round, he provided one of my most treasured memories of the tournament.
Stepping to the first tee on Monday morning as the first starter, playing alone and in last place, Peete turned to address the gallery and the two players who would follow him and said simply, "Play well, everybody." He is an exemplary figure and a shining example of why golf is one of the grandest of games.
DEREK H. DETJEN
Thank you for writing about someone we can all look up to, Calvin Peete.
SABAN AND CENTRAL FLORIDA
Many people at the University of Central Florida have expressed disappointment at the tone of Douglas S. Looney's article on Lou Saban's arrival in Orlando (If the Hat Fits, Wear It, April 11). Not that we can quarrel with facts. Saban has been extraordinarily peripatetic, and some doubt as to whether the butterfly has landed to stay is understandable. Ironically, your article may well serve to remove such doubt. I think you have given Lou almost as much of a challenge as the university has handed him. But please permit me a few comments:
I believe the record will show that in its brief football history Central Florida has had an attendance record that compares well with most Division III and Division II schools. I think that last season, while disappointing—a friend at Kent State points out that it is possible to exceed an 0-10 record (Kent State went 0-11)—had its heartening aspects. Our final game, against 1-AA national champion Eastern Kentucky, was impressively close: We lost it in the last quarter by 12 points.
I also think the record shows that Florida does not have a problem with having another engineering-oriented university: Central Florida's College of Engineering, with its four doctoral programs, has some 2,500 majors and alumni who have competed successfully with those from Georgia Tech and MIT. Our Computer Science Department is now among the 10 largest in the nation and has recently completed funding of a million-dollar endowed chair—probably only the fourth such chair in the U.S.
In short, we may be a young university, but we are no longer "struggling." We are delighted to have Saban with us. We have no secrets, and he knows our liabilities and our assets. He has already added to the latter: He has recruited some outstanding student-athletes, and he has brought a sense of pride, discipline and opportunity.
University of Central Florida
Central Florida's "fantasy" of playing Florida State may be less ludicrous than Douglas S. Looney thinks. Just look at Florida State's history. In 1960 Bill Peterson, now Central Florida's athletic director, was named the head coach at Florida State, which only 14 years before had been a girls' school. The schedule that year included such gridiron powers as William & Mary and The Citadel. By 1964, however, the Seminoles were 9-1-1 under Peterson's direction, with wins over intrastate rivals Florida and Miami and a lopsided defeat of Oklahoma in the Gator Bowl. It seems highly likely that Central Florida, with Peterson and Lou Saban at the helm, could be playing Florida State by 1989. What worries me, as a Florida State alumnus, is that the Fighting Knights just might beat the Seminoles.
WILLIAM E. PETERSON JR.
•In addition to being a graduate and fan of rival Florida State, reader Peterson is also Bill Peterson's son.—ED.
In regard to Lou (Now-You-See-Him-Now-You-Don't) Saban, some people may rationalize his job instability by stating that poor Lou has either been lied to or abused by his previous employers, thus his exoduses. However, it seems to me that Saban possesses very little old-fashioned stick-to-it-ive-ness. If we all turned tail and ran away from our jobs at the slightest hint of repression or displeasure, there wouldn't be anyone working anywhere for very long.
Saban seems never to have learned the meaning of that old adage: "You've got to take the bad with the good." Feel sorry for poor Lou? Baloney!
JESSE R. KRESGE
PERFECTING THE RACKET TOSS
John Knoll (VIEWPOINT, April 18) covered most of the popular racket-throwing styles, but he failed lo mention one used by none other than gentlemanly, even-tempered, double-Grand Slammer Rod Laver. The Rocket mastered a unique method of anger transference whereby he would flip the racket headfirst onto the court, assisting gravity with a sharp snap of his wrist so that the offending implement would bounce back into his hand like a Yo-Yo. This was particularly effective on hard courts, and Laver never had to waste energy retrieving broken rackets. Only an Australian could throw a racket and make it return. Check with your stockbroker, though, before trying this with your $500 (gulp) Prince Boron!
I think John Knoll will find that there is nothing more satisfying to oneself—or more demoralizing to one's opponent—than skidding a metal racket against a cement or asphalt court and watching the sparks fly.
Williamstown, W. Va.
Those of us who are not affluent can still enjoy racket tossing. My favorite toss sends the racket straight up in the air. When it peaks and I realize what I have done, I camp under it and try to catch it without breaking any bones in my hand.
Cherry Hill, N.J.
John Knoll has an eloquent way of describing a mundane, immature act. Is he going to write about the joy of golf-club throwing next week? That would be cute!
I'm a Jack-of-all-sports, and I wonder why, even in jest, Knoll would facetiously condone such a barbaric act. True jocks in any sport channel such tantrums into more intense, buckle-down playing. Bjorn Borg is an example. Anyone can lose his composure, but the pure athlete will regain it and counter frustration with flawlessness.
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