HOCKEY'S HIT MEN
I felt compelled to drop you a line and commend you on your well-documented article on hockey in the Feb. 17 issue (Hockey? Call It Sockey). I have many of the same feelings, but I feel strongly that measures will be taken to curb the high incidence of premeditated fighting. I can see that a lot of effort went into your article, and I felt I should drop you a line, as I fully endorse your feelings.
Director of Hockey Operations, Coach
Buffalo Sabres Hockey Club
Why does the NHL "continue to cater to the dimmest bulb in the stand"? The answer is evident on the faces of the fans shown in the photographs accompanying the article. Most of them are shining with enjoyment over the Rambo mentality out on the ice. This must be the same look Roman spectators had as they cheered a power play by the lions against the Christians. The Caesars of the NHL are giving this kind of entertainment a thumbs-up.
Corpus Christi, Texas
It can easily be argued that for every fan who comes to hockey games because of the brawls, there are two who stay away for the same reason.
MARK G. THOMAS
New York City
There is only one thing worse than somebody stepping on my cowboy boots and that is someone putting down the most exciting element of hockey—fighting. I want "goon hockey" and the designated hit men to stay.
March 17, 1986
Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Elgin Baylor are legends who, over the years, have magnificently blessed basketball fans with spine-tingling heroics. And you have the audacity to say that Larry Bird may be the best NBA player ever ("As Nearly Perfect As You Can Get," March 3). I agree.
An important consideration in comparing alltime NBA greats is their team's record before and after they came aboard.
Wasn't Boston 29-53 the season before Larry Bird? Haven't the Celtics won 75% of their games over the seven regular seasons since?
JOHN A. MONTGOMERY
•They are 417-127, 76.7%.—ED.
I'm not going to argue with you and say Larry Bird is not a great player. He is. But a legend? Not yet.
West Nyack, N.Y.
THE TV GAME
Hooray for Cap Cities! Finally, someone has had the guts to say "Enough!" to the overfed, pampered sports magnates of the networks and pro teams (TV To Sports: The Bucks Stop Here, Feb. 24). Poor Keith Jackson, having to get by on a mere half-mil a year. Poor Chet Forte, forced to trade in his leisure suit for a Brooks Brothers three-piecer and shorten his lunch to an hour. Poor, exploited pro ballplayer; he may have a few thousand less to spend on matched Jaguars or cocaine. Breaks your heart, doesn't it?
The average fan loves pro sports but couldn't care less about the likes of Roone Arledge or anyone else connected with the pros who makes such unreal profits. Fiscal sanity in sports is long, long overdue.
La Push, Wash.
ABC Sports has been put into excellent hands with the appointment of Dennis Swanson as president. I had the privilege of playing basketball for the then Lieut. Swanson when he was coaching one of the base teams at Camp Pendelton, Calif. during the 1962-63 season. I remember him as William Taaffe described him: a disciplinarian and a no-nonsense type of person. However, I also remember him as an intelligent, fair, hard worker who would put forth extra effort to be successful. The practices were tough, but our record was sweet—44-2.
JACK E. WRIGHT
Please let's not kid ourselves about who is going to bear the brunt of sports' lost revenues from television. It won't be the overpaid, dope-snorting, crybaby players. Who's going to suffer? The families of four, who are already well on the way to being priced out of the market for tickets to see their favorite teams! That's who.
Long Beach, Calif.
The excellent article By The Numbers (Feb. 24) by Jack McCallum reminded me that to win a championship in this city a team needs a No. 32 worn by a great player. The records of Sandy Koufax, Magic Johnson and Marcus Allen support my contention.
NATHAN J. GLEIBERMAN
Beverly Hills, Calif.
Mention the number 32 in Buffalo and we think of O.J. Simpson. We definitely don't think of Cookie Gilchrist. He was No. 34 with the Bills and, later, No. 2 with the Broncos and Dolphins.
I noted one oversight in your list of notable numbers: 12—Super Bowl quarterbacks Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Kenny Stabler, Joe Namath and Bob Griese.
Also, under NEW SEASONS, NEW NUMBERS, why didn't you mention Dave DeBusschere, who played pro basketball (Detroit Pistons) and major league baseball (Chicago White Sox) in the same years (1962-63)? Any numbers on him?
Lower Burrell, Pa.
•DeBusschere wore 22 on both teams.—ED.
How could you not mention No. 22 of the Orioles, Jim Palmer?
PATRICK O'MALLEY JR.
Owings Mills, Md.
Around here, 22 is not Elgin Baylor; 22 is Charlie (Choo Choo) Justice.
FRANK B. AYCOCK III
As a high school quarterback at St. Joe's Prep in Philadelphia in 1951, I requested and received No. 41. This was a tribute to West Point superstar Glenn Davis, my boyhood idol—not because of his Heisman Trophy, but because he had dated Elizabeth Taylor.
KEMP AND CREMINS
Jan Kemp's story (This Case Was One For The Books, Feb. 24) should inspire all those educators who struggle daily to instill high academic standards in their students. At the same time, the University of Georgia's attitude toward her and her cause is yet another indication that there is a long, sorry list of institutions of higher learning that have prostituted themselves and sacrificed their standards in favor of winning teams, TV exposure, money and happy alumni.
Congratulations for taking a deep look behind the headlines. There are many of us out here in the hinterlands who are watching closely to see how other colleges and universities respond to this clear call for reform.
EUGENE J. SZATKOWSKI
South Burlington, Vt.
Jan Kemp's court victory reminds us of what our colleges and universities should be: institutions of higher learning, not farm teams for professional sports. Of course, the onus still falls on our elementary and secondary schools for allowing so many of our young people to emerge from the system without a fundamental education.
The articles on Jan Kemp and Georgia Tech basketball coach Bobby Cremins (Keeping Cool Amid The Heat, Feb. 24) were obviously meant to be read in sequence.
As a North Carolina fan with a yearlong memory, I am not one to use "dumb" and "Cremins" in the same phrase. I also was not one to seriously consider the plight of a marginally admissible college athlete. It has been easier to believe that the kid from Sticks, Ala. or the streetwise kid from New York had truly received an "opportunity" when he was recruited by a major school. The picture Frank Deford painted of freshman Cremins not understanding "college" and wandering into "any" English class for freshman English, followed by the image of the recently graduated Cremins, with "no money, no car, nothing," finding "himself at a crossroads, sitting on his luggage, pondering whether to hitchhike north or south," brought home the real limits of this so-called opportunity. Cremins truly is a remarkable, capable man. He is also lucky.
What kind of satisfaction can there be for a coach or administrator who takes such an unprepared kid under his wing for athletic development, places him in a strange, unmanageable academic environment, allows him to fail and then, after four years of "college," turns him out, penniless and prepared only for an unreachable NBA or NFL? Success stories like Cremins's are obviously rare.
After reading the article, I wondered if Bobby Cremins ever received a degree from college.
JOHN L. CELICH
•Cremins was graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1970 with a B.S. degree in marketing.—ED.
You reported in the story on the Jan Kemp trial that the Athens Banner-Herald/Daily News had called for the dismissal of University of Georgia president Fred Davison in an editorial published Sunday, Feb. 16. The statement to which you refer appeared in a column written by executive editor Hank Johnson that expressed his own opinion that Davison should be fired. Both the Banner-Herald and the Daily News had expressed their editorial opinions earlier in the week. Neither paper called for President Davison's dismissal.
A. MARK SMITH
Athens Daily News
As the ultimate Kareem Abdul-Jabbar fan, over the years I have collected almost all of his SI covers. You didn't include the April 19, 1971 cover among those that were shown in your Jan. 27 issue.
•Here it is. For those who may not know, the jerseys flanking Kareem's No. 33 belonged to Willis Reed (No. 19) and Earl Monroe (No. 10). Monroe's Bullets went on to beat the Knicks and then lose to the champion Bucks in the playoffs that year.—ED.
Letters should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.