You have finally done it! You have given your ultimate award to the ultimate athlete. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Now, More Than Ever, A Winner, Dec. 23-30) will live in NBA history as the greatest center ever to play the game. Reviewing his achievements over the past 20 years, it's tough to think of another athlete in any sport who has done as much. He revolutionized the pivot—not with his average (other than shot-blocking) defensive capability, but with his smarts. There is no smarter center in the NBA today. There is no more dependable shot than Kareem's sky hook—and that's after 20 years! And when we speak of durability, well, Kareem's is certainly evident. In the age of dime-a-dozen superstar athletes, Abdul-Jabbar indeed stands head and shoulders above the rest.
I have never enjoyed another man's presence on this earth as much as I have Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's. He is genuine, and I respect him not only for his tremendous talent as an athlete but also for his dedication in seeking a peaceful existence. It was a shame Gary Smith's article had to end.
Great story, great athlete, great man, great choice!
ARTHUR F. AYERS
I was a student at UCLA at the same time as Abdul-Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor). There were occasions when he walked by and I wanted to say "Great game Friday," but for some reason I never got the words out. Perhaps it was the very grim look on his face, which rarely changed. As Jamaal Wilkes said, "There were lines you didn't cross."
January 6, 1986
It's sad. He was extremely well respected at UCLA, not only as an athlete but as a student and person as well. It's too bad that so many years had to pass before he realized that there were many people out there who truly admired him. At least the ending of the story is a happy one.
What an injustice! Walter Payton is the all-time leading rusher in the NFL, with nine consecutive 100-yard games this season, and you choose Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as Sportsman of the Year. You must be deluded by all that California dreamin'.
Pete Rose beat the unbeatable record, but you picked Abdul-Jabbar. How could you? Pete definitely rose to the occasion.
Kareem was a good choice, but Dwight Gooden should have gotten it.
JEFFREY B. BARRINEAU
Lake City, S.C.
You should have two awards, Athlete of the Year and Sportsman of the Year. We agree with your pick of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as Athlete of the Year, but in our book, TCU coach Jim Wacker exemplifies the word Sportsman.
TOM TRUDELL JR.
Bay City, Mich.
Thank you for Curry Kirkpatrick's excellent analysis of the Bear mystique (Once A Bear, Always A Bear, Dec. 16). I fear that the rest of the country must view this year's media circus in Chicago as a second-rate marketing of egos, arrogance and heavyweight gimmickry. Kirkpatrick accurately points out that Chicago Bear football has always been an exercise in insanity. With all due respect to the rest of the NFL, no one has had more fun winning than the Bears, and no one has ever shown more class when losing during the long, lean years. Lord knows it has not always been easy, but it has always been fun! That is one reason why the Bears' fanatical followers remain so incredibly loyal.
GARY L. MAXEY
The irony of all this attention that the Bears are getting is that they haven't won anything yet! And with the Stress-Monster (tight-jawed, gum-chewing Mike Ditka) in charge, I'm waiting for them to snap.
Bravo! Paul Zimmerman (Dr. Z Zeros In On The Top Pros Of '85) is the only one who realizes that San Diego quarterback Dan Fouts is still the master of the passing game. With all the hype over Miami's Dan Marino the past few years, it seems as though the so-called experts just let Fouts slip out of mind. Granted, he has been injured quite a bit, but he always returns to make mincemeat of somebody else's vaunted defense.
Congratulations. We Philly fans didn't think anyone was watching. Mike Quick (wide receiver) and Wes Hopkins (free safety) were the best at their positions in '85.
Cherry Hill, N.J.
Dr. Z picks the Jets' Joe Fields over Miami's Dwight Stephenson? Last I heard, one of the main duties of a center was to keep the quarterback off his backside. Granted, Dan Marino's quick release helps make Stephenson's job a bit easier, but statistics at the end of the regular season show Stephenson & Co. allowing 19 sacks, while the Jets allowed 62. Seems a pretty obvious choice to me. Now; about Fouts over Marino....
Surely you jest! Not a single Dolphin on Dr. Z's All-Pro team? The Dolphins have won or shared the AFC East title in seven of the last nine years. Someone, somewhere, somehow must be doing something right.
I can't believe you omitted Roger Craig of the 49ers and Gary Anderson of the Steelers. Craig was the first player in history to rush and receive for more than a thousand yards in each category, and Anderson had the kind of season kickers dream of. My condolences to Dr. Z.
You missed the Giants' Joe Morris. They don't make running backs any better.
THE HAMILTONS' EXAMPLE
Never have I read a more heartwarming, enlightening story than the one by Bruce Newman about Lance Hamilton and his family (Just To Show He Cares, Dec. 9). The way the Hamiltons risk adversity in an effort to help care for other people put a lump in my throat. The intestinal fortitude of this family and its concern for the human race serve to reaffirm my belief that there are some very good people in this world. My admiration goes to Newman for an article beautifully done and to the Hamiltons for an inner strength and warmth that I envy.
North Miami Beach, Fla.
I have had the pleasure of advising Lance and Harry Hamilton in their pre-law major over the past several years, and it has been refreshing to find that in a world where most students now ask, "How can this class or major help me to get a job?" there is still the rare individual who asks instead, "How can this class or major help me to get others a job, or a meal, or a roof over their heads?" It is the chance to work with dedicated young people like Lance, Harry and Darren Hamilton that makes teaching a fulfilling profession.
BRUCE ALLEN MURPHY
Associate Professor of Political Science
Penn State University
University Park, Pa.
The story of the Hamilton family restored my soul concerning strong black male leadership in the home. It reminds me of Elijah's despondency (I Kings 19) over being the only Hebrew "who has kept the faith." Y'shua reassures him that a large number of Hebrews have not bowed down to Baal.
I rejoice in knowing that there are still black families like the Hamiltons who live according to principles built on strong convictions and who don't retreat for individualistic gratification.
(THE REV.) FREDDIE DANIELS
It seems to me that there is a contradiction in the fact that Lance Hamilton will turn down a Rhodes scholarship because of Cecil Rhodes's exploitation of blacks and yet will play in the NFL, in which there are few black assistant coaches and no black head coaches, not to mention an absence of blacks at the management level. The small number of blacks above the player level seems to speak poorly of the NFL's trust in the intellectual capacity of blacks. Perhaps Lance and Harry should speak out against one of America's largest institutions, instead of making a statement against an institution that seems to have righted itself.
Sioux Falls, S. Dak.
On page 82 of your Sportsman of the Year issue is a picture of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar battling Elvin Hayes for a rebound. Is that Michael Warren of Hill Street Blues wearing UCLA No. 44 in the background?
MARK E. SULLIVAN
•Yes it is. And above is Warren as Hill Street's Officer Bobby Hill.—ED.
Letters should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATLD, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.