KAREEM & CO.
Your May 9 cover story on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (The Force Ran Its Course) showcased the fact that at 36 he's playing some of the best basketball of his life. As a fan, I've appreciated the determination, hustle and enthusiasm he has exhibited this season. If consistency in sports is a mark of greatness—and I believe it is—then Abdul-Jabbar is just about the greatest.
I was amazed to see that Los Angeles' 3-1 lead over an average Portland club was bigger news than Milwaukee's 3-0 lead over an excellent Boston team. I can't believe you devoted your cover and main article to the Lakers without giving the Bucks a single sentence, not to mention a photo. Many people expected L.A. to beat the Blazers, but who ever imagined that Milwaukee, without Dave Cowens and with an always hobbling Bob Lanier, would have a three-game lead over the Celtics? The Bucks deserved a pat on the back. It's time the media and SI woke up to the fact that there are teams in the NBA besides Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Boston.
MANDATE FOR MOSES
While reading in my Greek Bible the other day, I stumbled across a verse that took on added significance in light of current events in the NBA playoffs. As is well known, Philadelphia is a Greek word found often in the Bible; in translation it means "brotherly love." With all the references in the press to Moses Malone leading the 76ers to the "promised land"—an NBA championship—the verse I was reading had new force. It was Hebrews 13:1, which says, in effect, "May Philadelphia continue." Moses, you have your mandate!
Master of Divinity Candidate
Western Conservative Baptist Seminary
I was watching the 76ers and the Bucks play their first game of the Eastern Conference finals on TV and also catching up on the latest issue of SI when I came to the article The Rivers of thou Shalt Not (May 9) by William Humphrey. The story made me forget about Moses Malone and Sidney Moncrief and start thinking about the Itchen, the Test and wily trout. In fact I was so inspired by Humphrey's accounts of fishing those fabled waters that I tore myself away from the last seven minutes of the basketball game—of course it went into overtime—and, fly rod in hand, rushed down to the Snake for the first time this season.
May 22, 1983
Breaking a few of the English angling rules Humphrey cited, such as not wading or casting downstream to an unseen fish, I had the jolly good luck to catch—and release—a 19-inch 3½-pound cutthroat. My thanks to Humphrey for an interesting—and motivating—article.
I enjoyed Jim Kaplan's article on Nolan Ryan's latest milestone (For Ryan, It Was a Very Special K, May 9). Still, I must take exception to his downplaying of the accomplishments of modern pitchers like Ryan by negatively comparing their performances with those of pitchers of Bob Feller's era. I find the statement "And yes, expanding from 16 teams and 400 players to 26 and 650 put more patsy batters on major league rosters" asinine.
Consider the following points: 1) The population of the U.S. has increased by 75 million since 1950, and this growth is mirrored by baseball's expansion; 2) Contemporary pitchers like Ryan are facing outstanding black and Hispanic ballplayers who were barred during earlier eras; and 3) Ryan spent numerous years in the American League facing designated hitters rather than pitchers.
I'm sure Kaplan can counter with a variety of arguments, including the greater diversity of the American sport scene today, which has drawn excellent athletes away from baseball. But I'm tired of hearing about how terrific the players of the "good old days" were. Such statements are very subjective and impossible to justify or refute.
New York City
THE MEANING OF "NO MAS"
I want to thank SI for printing (LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER, May 9) and Angel Reyes for explaining to unknowledgeable Americans the truth about Roberto Duran and the no màs incident in his second fight with Sugar Ray Leonard. In my opinion, Reyes is correct in his analysis. Even after their first fight, Duran said, "I am no clown." In their second meeting, Leonard made a mockery of the art of boxing. However, most American sports watchers know little of the sweet science and therefore thought Duran quit because he was outboxed. Duran was not going to take part in a circus event. Leonard also avoided even talking about a third match, which would have drawn a lot better than Leonard-Finch or Leonard-Stafford.
JOHN NICHOLAS SKIOTES
As one who has a roommate, I enjoyed Jack McCallum's article For Better, For Worse (May 2). As a Greek major, however, I found a mistake in his research. He claims that Homer "made no mention of roommates in his writings." I think McCallum should open up his copy of The Iliad and check again, because Homer clearly shows his hero, Achilles, "rooming" with a man named Patroklos. I refer specifically to Book Nine of The Iliad, beginning on line 663 of Richmond Lattimore's translation:
There the old man lay down and waited for the divine Dawn./But Achilleus slept in the inward corner of the strong-built shelter,/and a woman lay beside him, one he had taken from Lesbos,/Phorbas' daughter, Diomede of the fair colouring./In the other corner Patroklos went to bed; with him also/was a girl, Iphis the fair-girdled, whom brilliant Achilleus/gave him, when he took sheer Skyros, Enyeus' citadel."
Like some of the roommates in McCallum's story, Achilles and Patroklos were very different from one another. Achilles was the greatest of the Greek warriors. He was also a superb athlete; Homer often refers to him as "swift of foot." But like most superstars, he was also brash, arrogant and slightly spoiled. (I will resist the temptation to add that he turned out to be prone to heel injuries.) Patroklos was brave and competent as a soldier, but certainly no Achilles. He was, however, quiet, patient and intelligent. Although he and Achilles were different, they were loyal, devoted friends. Space does not permit me to tell more of their friendship, except to remark that Patroklos died wearing Achilles' armor.
CHRISTOPHER W. DOWNEY
We who saw Kelvin Bryant score 15 touchdowns in the first three games of his junior year here at North Carolina knew he was truly Special K (The Man Who Makes the Stars Shine, April 25). There is no telling what might have happened during his college career had he not been plagued with injuries. That problem seems to be behind him and we are delighted with his progress in the USFL.
Barry McDermott's article describes Bryant as a quiet man off the field, one not given to flashiness. However, one action he recently took off the field was golden and deserves notice. He gave the University of North Carolina a sizable gift to establish a general academic scholarship for undergraduates majoring in recreation administration. It was a classy thing to do.
H. DOUGLAS SESSOMS
Curriculum in Recreation Administration
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, N.C.
WYOMING'S BROCK BROTHERS
We here in Laramie are mighty proud of the job Greg Brock is doing for the Dodgers, and, for the most part, Steve Wulf was complimentary of Brock in his story on Steve Garvey (It Was Too Good To Be True, April 25). However, Wulf's comparison of Garvey's ability to talk to the press with Brock's—"Brock is nice enough but his charisma quotient is low"—was ludicrous. Garvey has had a decade of training in talking to the press. Why bother comparing a veteran with a rookie? That goes for the rest of Brock's game, too. Given time, I'm sure Dodger fans will have plenty of room in their memories for both Garvey and Brock.
By the way, Brock, a former All-America baseball player at the University of Wyoming, has a younger brother, Eric, playing there now and tearing up the WAC. A smooth-fielding senior infielder and leadoff batter, Eric has been hitting better than .400, with an on-base percentage of more than .700, and leading the Cowboys in RBIs.
GARY L. CHAZEN
RELIEF TO START
In his article on Chicago White Sox pitchers (Arming for a New Season, April 18), Frank Deford asked if anyone had ever heard of a relief pitcher going so bad the manager dropped him into the starting rotation. That was exactly what happened to Allen Ripley of the Chicago Cubs in 1982. Ripley was being bombed regularly and had an ERA of more than 11 when Manager Lee Elia decided he would be more effective as a starter. He was, lowering his ERA to 4.26 by the end of the season.
GERALD E. RUZICKA
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