I'm sure Shaquille O'Neal (The Shaq Factor, June 17) is a great
guy. It's just that he is as bad for basketball as Godzilla was
for the Big Apple. The referees consistently allow him to
violate the rules by slamming himself against opponents with
both his rear end and his elbows. With Shaq, all you get is
brute force. Tell him to pick on someone his own size, like a
PAUL HURST, Plantation, Fla.
I've just seen Shaq bulldoze his way through another playoff
series; it will be the last pro basketball I'll ever watch. As
for his much-hyped ability, how many shots does he make outside
of five feet from the basket?
LEW PREDMORE, Avon Park, Fla.
Shaq constantly complains about the refs when he's guilty of
pushing and hooking defenders who are trying to guard him. When
he gets the ball down low, he very often walks or, better yet,
hops with both feet while holding the ball. The way the refs
treat Shaq is like Barry Bonds's getting four strikes so we can
see more homers.
DAVID S. HENNE, Florham Park, N.J.
Jack McCallum's article reminds me why I stopped watching the
NBA two years ago. The news flash that Shaq "removed the diamond
studs that are in both his nipples for no particular reason"
before the Finals shows just how low the sport has plummeted.
MORI KRANTZ, Denver
SI should be a part of basketball's institutional memory. To
compare Shaq to Wilt Chamberlain is a real distortion. He is not
stronger than Chamberlain. Yes, he weighs more, but Chamberlain
didn't go through people to score or rebound. Wilt never fouled
out, and I think any expert would tell you he played a clean,
ERIC LUND, Greenville, Calif.
While Shaq garners all of the accolades, Kobe Bryant, at 23,
continues to impose his will on the game in a manner that only
Magic, Bird and Jordan have shown before him.
SAM FIANO, Fairfield, Conn.
Ralph Versus Refs
For once in my life I find myself in agreement with Ralph Nader
(SCORECARD, June 17). I am amazed that there is such a blatant
disregard for basic rules in the pros. Many a foul was not
called on the offensive player when he definitely ran into the
defensive player. Don't you think NBC wanted to avoid televising
the Finals with Sacramento--a much smaller TV market than Los
JERRY SOLZMAN, Louisville
Who is Ralph Nader to criticize NBA officials when he just
recently started following the game? What Nader fails to realize
from watching Game 6 is that the Kings hacked the crap out of
the Lakers in the fourth quarter while L.A. played good defense.
Maybe if Nader focused more on the political arena and less on
the NBA arena, he might actually win an election.
NICK LARSEN, Eugene, Ore.
Dishonest officiating in the NBA? Come on, Ralph, tell us
something we don't already know.
DAVE UNDIS, Nashville
Brett Brusatori (LETTERS, June 17) would like you to cover only
the "real" sports: baseball, basketball and football. I'm sure
those "real" athletes would be able to appreciate the skills,
strength and peak fitness needed in soccer, track and field,
swimming, hockey, lacrosse, wrestling and all the other sports
left out by his provincial mind-set. Keep up the coverage of all
sports. After all, it is not THREE SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.
PATTI O'CONNOR, Warwick, N.Y.
Richard Hoffer's Lights Out (June 17) did a great job of
explaining why people are fascinated with Mike Tyson and bored
with Lennox Lewis. Hoffer failed to mention that Tyson's appeal
goes beyond the carnival act, though. In his prime Tyson was the
most exciting fighter ever.
PETER ROSENBERG, Bethesda, Md.
Tyson may not have fought a stellar fight against Lewis, but he
did get a victory of sorts. A true champion is a person who can
rise from defeat with grace and humility, and he did just that.
CHUCK ARNDELL, Delanson, N.Y.
I've come to the conclusion that Tyson's left shoulder tattoo
should actually be on his backside--his "Days of Grace" are
clearly behind him.
ATLI CRANE, Victoria, B.C.
Vladdy Good Show
I'm appalled at SI's choice of Lance Berkman over Vladimir
Guerrero in the All-Star ballot (INSIDE BASEBALL, June 24). It's
about time that Vladdy started to get some respect. The guy bats
for average and power, and he steals more than 30 bases a year.
Put him in a Yankees uniform and he'd be called the best player
in the game.
WILL FRENCH, Bryan, Texas
Eating for Sport
As the former Maine pasta champion, I must say that competitive
eating is a sport (SCORECARD, June 24). Training, mental
toughness and strategy all play a part in the competitions.
Although my nickname is Garbage Gut, I have run the New York City
Marathon in 2:48 and have a black belt in karate.
GEORGE GLUM, Pearl River, N.Y.