SI Vault
September 02, 1996
No one is worth more money than he could dream of spending in his lifetime.SARAH TRAGORD, CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA
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September 02, 1996


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No one is worth more money than he could dream of spending in his lifetime.

NBA Salaries
Something died in me when I learned that Shaquille O'Neal had signed for $120 million with the Los Angeles Lakers and also that the Lakers had raised their lowest-priced ticket from $9.50 to $21 (Kazaam!, July 29). All through the various immoral franchise shifts, the too numerous incidents of drug and alcohol abuse and other unsavory activities, I had believed that pro sports were in some way still games. But this ticket-price increase says that pro sports are simply greedy big businesses that operate for the benefit of a few elite people, leaving nothing for the fans to identify with.
Bluffton, Ohio

Shaquille O'Neal is not worth $120 million. This is a guy who can't hit a free throw, can't score away from the paint and, despite being 7'1" and 300-plus pounds, can't lead the NBA in rebounding, blocks or scoring. All he can do is dunk and occasionally drop in a hook shot. If he posts up, he doesn't try to fake, he just runs over his opponent.

But let's just say that Shaq is worth $120 million. That would make David Robinson and Hakeem Olajuwon worth, say, $150 million to $200 million. They can score inside and outside, hit free throws consistently and can block a respectable number of shots.
DAVE EBERT, Pocahontas, Va.

Wrist Slap
Kudos for blasting the NFL's kid glove handling of Dallas Cowboy Michael Irvin (SCORECARD, Aug. 5). I wish that commissioner Paul Tagliabue could have suspended Irvin for a whole season, not just five games, and fined him his entire annual salary of $1.7 million. Maybe that would have gotten his attention. All pro athletes are role models whether they like it or not.

Baseball Cards
Your article House of Cards (July 29) articulated my thoughts exactly. I am 29 and have been collecting baseball cards since 1976. Back when fewer sets were produced, I could tell from a glance the card's year and manufacturer. Nowadays it's overkill, and despite all the splashy computer graphics, bleed borders and foil stamping, the cards all look the same to me.

To get into the hobby purely for speculation is wrong. For example, when I was piecing together my 1975 set of Topps cards, I was just as happy to uncover a mint Joe Lovitto as I was a George Brett or Tom Seaver if I happened to need the Lovitto card.

As a teenager who has been collecting baseball cards for nearly 10 years, I believe that part of the reason for the crash of the business is the failure of card companies to cater to kids. As recently as five years ago I would ride my bike to a card shop every week and purchase two packs of 16 cards for little more than a dollar. The prices are now too high for the average kid to afford. When baseball-card collecting became a business instead of a hobby, it cut itself off from the kids, its driving force.
PAUL CARR, Topeka, Kans.

Carpe Diem
It seems as though every week I read in your LETTERS column about people whining that expansion has ruined major league baseball and has made today's statistics useless (July 29). What these lovers of yesteryear conveniently forget is that Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Rogers Hornsby and the rest did not have to compete against great black players, nor did baseball recruit south of the border as it does today.

Yes, we have 28 teams now, but we also have a talent pool that has millions more people to draw from. Instead of complaining about the records of our past heroes being challenged, let's enjoy the feats of our current stars.