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.
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