Aug. 10, 1998
Aug. 10, 1998

Table of Contents
Aug. 10, 1998

Basketball [bonus Piece]


Howard Bingham proves that what matters most is not the people
you know, but the person you are.
--Roy Opochinski, Princeton, N.J.

This is an article from the Aug. 10, 1998 issue


Frank Deford's story about Howard Bingham is a marvelous
portrayal of friendship in today's adversarial times (The Best
of Friends, July 13). Bingham is living proof that friendship
given will be returned tenfold.
LARRY HALSTEAD, Clearwater, Fla.

Bingham has been a hero of mine since his friendship with
Muhammad Ali was touchingly portrayed in Thomas Hauser's
biography of Ali. Deford has been my favorite sportswriter since
I became an SI subscriber more than 20 years ago. What a joy to
see their lives and work come together.
JOHN HICKS, Rochester, N.Y.

The night I received the July 13 issue, as my family sat in a New
York City restaurant, my father struck up a conversation with a
quiet man seated at the next table. It was Bingham, and one could
immediately sense that his serenity hid an inner strength and
confidence. That night I read Deford's article and discovered the
depth of Bingham's character.

In Deford's moving story on Ali (ne Cassius Clay) and Bingham he
inadvertently degraded another great champion. Deford noted that
Bingham met Clay in Los Angeles in late 1962 when Clay "was in
town to knock over some tomato can." The fighter Clay fought
happened to be one of the greatest light heavyweights in boxing
history. Although past his prime, Archie Moore was no tomato can.

We should all have a friend like Howard Bingham. It is too bad
Arsenio Hall chose to bask in the limelight of Muhammad Ali
instead of sharing this incredible relationship with his viewers.
As a now former fan of Arsenio's, I will never watch anything he
is involved with--if he ever makes it back to show business.
JIM BRIDGEMAN, Jonesboro, Ga.

As a pastor in a sports-minded town, I have often quoted SPORTS
ILLUSTRATED in my sermons. Unfortunately, Frank Deford is better
informed on sports than on the Bible. Deford writes, "Bingham
has played the dutiful younger son, the one who was always
there, always faithful." The younger son was the prodigal.
Actually, neither son's personality suits Bingham. The older son
who stays home is self-righteous, vindictive and moody. Bingham
is more thoughtful and caring--a breath of fresh air.


Your article on Steelers linebacker Levon Kirkland hit home
(Heavy Hitter, July 13). As a fellow student and friend of
Kirkland's at Lamar High and at Clemson, I can affirm what a
wonderful person he has always been. The quiet dignity of his
father, Levern, shines through brilliantly in Levon. It is
fortunate we still have a few positive role models in the
athletic community.

Having been raised in Cleveland, it is in my blood to hate the
Steelers. Regardless, my thanks to Leigh Montville for an
excellent, heartwarming piece on Kirkland. In a time when
athletes are often in the news only after committing a crime,
this article provided a refreshing insight on what sports should
GREG TADYCH, Milwaukee


It was amazing to watch the reaction of Jenny Chuasiriporn as
she sank her 45-foot birdie putt at the U.S. Women's Open, but
in the picture by Jim Gund (LEADING OFF, July 13) it was even
more interesting to see the reaction of the crowd gathered
around the 18th green at Blackwolf Run. This picture captures
all the individual facial expressions and shows the excitement
of this year's U.S. Women's Open. If any picture speaks a
thousand words, this one says volumes.
JERRY HERDA, Milwaukee


Reading your article about Red Sox pitcher Tom Gordon and his
initiation into the "save fraternity," I was sure you would
explain the three possible criteria needed to obtain a save
(INSIDE BASEBALL, July 13). I'm sure many readers are still as
confused as the relief pitchers cited. That these men do not
know if they will be credited with a save boggles the mind.
Please educate us now that you have piqued our interest.
ED FLETCHER, Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

--The final pitcher in a team's victory is awarded a save if he
entered the game with his team ahead and maintained the lead, and
either 1) the potential tying run was at least in the on-deck
circle; 2) he pitched effectively for three innings; or 3) he
pitched the complete final inning with less than a four-run
advantage. --ED.

COLOR PHOTO: STEVE POWELL [Ivan Lendl in tennis match]


Although your Unfinished Business chart in the July 13 SCORECARD
was very interesting, you left out one important name. Tennis
star Ivan Lendl won eight Grand Slam titles and was the No.
1-ranked player for 270 weeks. The only knock against him was
his inability to win Wimbledon. Had he won it, he would be
considered one of the best tennis players ever.
WILLIAM O'BRYAN, Lapeer, Mich.