LETTERS

December 09, 1996

Shaq has no heart and no commitment to his team. It takes more
than talent and a big contract to become a winner in the NBA.
DUANE A. DENNY, Wolf Point, Mont.

THE NBA

Richard Hoffer's article, Welcome to the Club, Big Guy (Nov.
11), included an intergenerational photograph of three Lakers
centers, George Mikan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O'Neal.
One statistical comparison that can be made among these centers
involves their foul shooting. O'Neal's failure in this area is
well known; over a 20-year period Abdul-Jabbar had a 72.1%
success rate; Mikan, during four of his first six NBA seasons,
led his team in foul-shooting, by making from 77.2% to 80.3% of
his attempts.

While the scoring and rebounding stats of these stars have been
well publicized, it is not widely known that in one season,
1948-49, Mikan led his team in assists, with 218 for the 60-game
schedule, an average of 3.6 per game. That was--and is--a rare
feat for a high-scoring center.
HERM BRUNOTTE, Town Of Tonawanda, N.Y.

Hoffer mentioned that Mikan's play was so overwhelming that the
lane was expanded from six to 12 feet. Abdul-Jabbar had the same
sort of effect on the college game, in which his play was so
overwhelming that the no-dunk rule was imposed. What will the
Shaq Rule be?
LARRY HERR, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

While I was growing up in Buffalo, I lost interest in the NBA as
the Braves were torn apart and ultimately reborn as the San
Diego (now Los Angeles) Clippers. Imagine my shock when the
Braves, who were born in Buffalo for the 1970-71 season and
played there for eight years, were omitted from the list of
teams that bounced around, and in some cases, died in your NBA
at 50 timeline (Nov. 11).

Sure, the Braves had a checkered history, but until John Y.
Brown bought half the franchise in 1976, they were becoming
something special. Coach Jack Ramsay turned the Braves into
winners before moving on to make the Trail Blazers champions.
Bob McAdoo came out of college early (when an athlete still had
to show hardship) to lead the league in scoring for three
seasons in the mid-1970s. And Adrian Dantley started his NBA
career by earning Rookie of the Year honors with the Braves in
1976-77.
BILL STRIEJEWSKE, Reno

The celebration of the NBA's 50th year in SI and elsewhere has
me confused. How is the first season of the Basketball
Association of America (BAA), 1946-47, the beginning of the NBA?
When the BAA and the National Basketball League (NBL) merged to
form the NBA before the 1949-50 season, the league consisted of
17 teams, 11 from the BAA and six from the NBL. Why declare the
inception of the BAA as the starting point of the NBA? The NBL
began in 1937-38. Why not count the history of the NBA from
then? The oldest team in the NBA is the Detroit Pistons, who
began in 1941-42 as the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons; why not
start with them?

Of the 17 teams that began the NBA, eight are still in
existence, but they began their various lives in the years from
1941 through 1947.
MURRY NELSON, Boalsburg, Pa.

--The NBA traces its origins to June 6, 1946, when it was
founded, as the BAA, at a meeting of prospective team owners in
New York. Maurice Podoloff was chosen commissioner at that
gathering. The league, with Podoloff still the commissioner,
simply changed its name to the NBA before the 1949-50 season,
when it absorbed six surviving members of the rival NBL.--ED.

Earl Lloyd is listed in your timeline as the first black to play
in an NBA game in 1950. But there were black pro players before
then. William (Dolly) King and William (Pop) Gates of the NBL
Rochester Royals each played in 1946-47. Because of a fight
between Gates and another player, neither was retained the
following year because of concern over racial tension. These two
friends and former Harlem Renaissance players were the forebears
of blacks in the NBA.
KEITH NORRIS, Los Angeles

The invention of the 24-second clock saved the NBA from certain
death from boredom. Danny Biasone, owner of the Syracuse
Nationals, had the insight to create this device following the
1953-54 season. That simple idea, which was aptly included in
your timeline, remains unchanged to this day, yet Biasone's name
is missing from the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.
LEE IRELAND, Cicero, N.Y.

COLOR PHOTO: NEIL LEIFER Gone but not forgotten: McAdoo in Buffalo. [Bob McAdoo playing basketball]

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)