RUSSELL VS. CHAMBERLAIN
I beg to differ with the caption on page 101 of the Feb. 22 issue (Where Are They?) that says, "[Bill] Russell often got the better of Wilt [Chamberlain], and the record book certainly is proof positive." The Philadelphia 76ers' statistical yearbook contains information to the contrary.
In the 142 times they faced each other, Chamberlain scored 4,077 points for an average of 28.7 points per game, while Russell had 2,060 points for a 14.5-point average. The charts also show that Wilt grabbed 4,072 rebounds (28.7 average) compared with Russell's 3,373 rebounds (23.7 average). In the 142 games Chamberlain outscored Russell 131 times and outrebounded him 95 times.
It was against Russell on Nov. 24, 1960, that Wilt pulled down 55 rebounds, still the NBA record. Further, Wilt once scored 62 points against the great defender. The most points Russell ever scored against Wilt was 37. I think your caption should have said, "Russell rarely got the better of Wilt."
Director of Statistical Information
March 21, 1988
•Chamberlain did have the edge in individual stats. However, Russell led the Celtics to nine NBA championships between 1959-60, Wilt's rookie season, and 1968-69, Russell's last as a player. Chamberlain, who played for the Warriors, the 76ers and the Lakers, was on only one title team during those years—the '66-67 Sixers. Russell's team won 85 of the 142 games in which the two paired off.—ED.
I just finished Jack McCallum's article (Disorder on the Court, Feb. 8) on NBA violence. I wholeheartedly agree that a third official would decrease the violence. The problem is getting worse at all levels of basketball. In this era of the "no-call," I see high school, college and even grade-school games deteriorate from contact to more contact and finally to punches. I blame officials at all levels for allowing this to happen.
In "Crime on the Court" (Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 92, No. 2, 1984), economists Robert E. McCormick and Robert D. Tollison of Clemson University (Tollison is now here at George Mason University) applied to basketball the theory that crime can be explained in economic terms and asked, "What happens to the arrest rate when the number of law enforcers increases?" Their study concerned the Atlantic Coast Conference, which increased the number of basketball referees from two to three, beginning with its 1978-79 postseason tournament. They found that in ACC postseason play through '83, a 50% increase in referees resulted in 34% fewer fouls than occurred in postseason conference tournaments from 1954 through 1978.
Executive Vice President
Institute for Humane Studies
George Mason University
Jack McCallum makes no mention of the increased incidence of intentional fouls committed against a player while he's about to make a dunk or an easy layup. The offended player gets only two free throws, and his team retains the ball. A better deterrent would be to award the shooter two points for making the first foul shot and one for converting the second, thus making the offense a possible three-point infraction. An alternative would be to count the basket—just as happens with goaltending—and to give one or two shots at the foul line.
JAMES E. GARRETSON
MARINOVICH & SON
After finishing the tragic story of U.S. Olympic skater Dan Jansen (Felled by a Heavy Heart, Feb. 22), I turned to the more uplifting—or so I thought—piece on schoolboy quarterback Todd Marinovich (Bred To Be a Superstar). In the end I felt just as much sorrow for Marinovich as I did for Jansen. His father's obsession with developing the boy's football skills seems to have deprived Todd of a normal childhood, and to what end? To make him a superjock with an outside chance of becoming one of 28 NFL starting quarterbacks? My advice to Todd is this: Have some fun in college; it's your last shelter from the real world.
It's hard to find a more football-oriented household than mine. My father played for the University of Delaware and is now an NCAA referee as well as a timekeeper for the Giants. I have played for 10 years—from Pop Warner to Middlebury College, where I am a sophomore—but my father has never pressured me or dictated my training. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. It's too bad there are washed-up "marginal pros" like Marv Marinovich who appear to be basking, at the expense of a child, in a glory they never attained.
Are we talking about a father and a son, or a trainer and a 3-year-old at Churchill Downs? What happens if Todd ruins a knee?
MARK J. RILEY
I wish Todd the best of luck at USC. But should he not become the best quarterback ever to throw the ball, or not even make it to the Rose Bowl, I hope Marv won't see him as a failed laboratory experiment. Instead, I hope he's big enough to say, "I'm proud of you anyway, son." And perhaps take him out for just one Big Mac.
THE HEYWARD CASE
Thank you, Rick Telander (POINT AFTER, Feb. 8). For years I have been telling people that college football players should have the right to turn pro whenever they feel they're ready. A zoology major at Ohio State, I was accepted by the university's dental school in my junior year. I have no undergraduate degree, but in June 1989 I will graduate from dental school and embark on my pro career. Why shouldn't an athlete have the same chance?
I don't feel, as Telander does, that Craig Heyward's problem is a lack of freedom. His problem is poor judgment and even poorer values. One day Heyward may regret his decision to discard his free college education to pursue short-term economic gain.
HAMISH K. WILSON
Jack McCallum's piece on superstition in sports (Green Cars, Black Cats and Lady Luck, Feb. 8) reminded me of an article entitled "Baseball Magic" by anthropologist George Gmelch in the August 1978 issue of Human Nature. Gmelch compares superstitions in baseball with magic in primitive societies. Among Trobriand Islanders in the South Pacific, for example, open-sea fishing, a dangerous undertaking, is accompanied by elaborate magical rituals, while lagoon fishing, a safe task, is not. Who in baseball practices the most magic? According to Gmelch, pitching, batting and managing are the equivalent of open-sea fishing, while playing the outfield is similar to lagoon fishing.
Call them superstitions or magic, these rituals serve to reduce anxieties in a risk-filled world. One wonders what investors on Wall Street do.
ROBERT L. BLAKELY
I enjoyed Paul Zimmerman's story about Sid Gillman and the early San Diego Chargers (When Sid Was Caesar, Feb. 1). However, as a Gillman fan, I was slightly disappointed that nothing was mentioned of his days at Ohio State, where he was a player (1930-33) and an assistant coach (1934, '38-40). As an assistant, Gillman served under one of the most innovative and underrated coaches in the history of college football, Francis (Close the Gates of Mercy) Schmidt. Much of Gillman's football philosophy, as well as his offensive innovations and work habits, can be traced to his years with Schmidt. Schmidt was way before his time. Under him, Ohio State beat opponents by 50, 60 and even 80 points by using wide-open attacks featuring more than 300 plays from some 15 formations.
I am a Ph.D. candidate in sports history at Ohio State, and a short time ago I interviewed Gillman for a research paper on Schmidt. Gillman said, "He was a great, great offensive mind. I don't think that I've ever known anybody whose mind was as keen and clever as his was from a football standpoint. I still have his playbook. He was the greatest influence I had. I just loved the guy."
By the way, Schmidt was replaced at Ohio State in 1940 by a little-known high school coach named Paul Brown.
•In 1934 Schmidt (fourth from right below) posed with Gillman (second from left) and his other assistants.—ED.
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