What's needed is another Larry Bird who can shoot his way to the top and give youth inspiration to practice jumpers, not rip down rims.
CHRIS PUZZIO, STRATFORD, CONN.
Congratulations on Alexander Wolff's article exposing the decline in jump shooting (A Ton of Bricks, Feb. 12). The reasons he cites are on the money. Any teen who wants to be a true player needs to work and work on his shooting until it's second nature. Today's college players want to show off more, and shooting from 18 feet out and kissing it off the glass isn't flashy enough. Still, flashes of brilliant shooting are occasionally displayed. Drew Barry of Georgia Tech and Carmelo Travieso of UMass knocked down nine and eight three-pointers, respectively, in games the weekend after Wolff's article was published.
The deterioration of shooting skills, pro and college, can be traced to an erosion of rules enforcement concerning traveling and charging. The "going to the hoop" syndrome has been fed by the extra step or two that players today can take that Rick Mount could not. A premium was placed on shooting in Jerry West's or Lynn Shackleford's day because running around or through a defender resulted in a whistle and a turnover. Pulling up for a straight-up jumper was a necessity, and being able to hit it was the key. We have softened the rules in favor of athleticism at the expense of fundamentals and shooting.
KEN WEIHER, San Antonio
Certainly the shortening of the shot clock has something to do with lower shooting percentages. However, we all know that the style of play has changed. In-your-face power dunks and drives to the hoop are more crowd pleasing than a consistent jumper. Take a pure shooter such as Austin Carr, who played for Notre Dame in the 1970s. He still holds six NCAA tournament scoring records. Today, shooters like him are a rarity.
DAVID R. BECKMAN, Parma Heights, Ohio
Poor shooting is only one piece of the crumbling puzzle we call high school and college basketball. The same article could be written about the poor fundamentals of rebounding, ball handling and every other aspect of the game. The main problem, as I see it, with high school and college basketball is that we have so few teachers of the game of basketball.
Former coach John Wooden of UCLA, who won 10 NCAA titles, had the correct philosophy in his day, and it is still the correct philosophy today. He rarely, if ever, scouted an opponent, because he believed that if he taught his team to execute and play the game properly, it would win.
THOMAS M. LESCH, Mansfield, Ohio
It's the Shoes
Since Nike chairman Phil Knight apparently can't see beyond his "swoosh" when it comes to such values as patriotism, respect for the U.S. flag and support of U.S. athletes in competition with teams from other countries (SCORECARD, Feb. 19), I would suggest that he stick that swoosh in his big mouth.
PAT SWEENEY, Oceanside, Calif.
After years of effort and millions of dollars in development costs, Nike got a top team—Brazil—to wear its boots in the 1994 World Cup. I rooted for the Brazilians. SI pointed this out, clearly to show my lack of patriotism.
I disagree with the conclusion, but at the very least SI should have informed its readers that Nike has now signed the U.S. men's and women's soccer teams, which will be wearing our products in the 1996 Olympics and the '98 World Cup. In addition we have endorsement agreements with the U.S. track and field team, the women's U.S. basketball team, the U.S. softball team and the U.S. rowing team.
These are relationships of which I am enormously proud.
PHILIP H. KNIGHT
Chairman, Nike Inc.