I don't care if Ray Rhodes is black, white, yellow, green or purple. He didn't do his job.
—CHARLES KRUEGER, Marshfield, Wis.
If I were Hakeem Olajuwon, Tim Duncan, Vlade Divac or David Robinson, I would have filed a formal complaint after reading your cover story on Shaquille O'Neal (Big Time, Jan. 17). Mr. Big Stock Exchange has been milking the same "move"—take five shuffle steps and drive his shoulder into the defender—for big numbers since he came into the NBA. If it weren't for his freakish size and the extinction of the traveling violation, he wouldn't have made my high school's jayvee squad.
KEN B. CHAPIN, Westfield, Mass.
It's nice to see that Y2K hasn't affected the famed SI cover jinx. I just watched the stodgy old Pacers end the Lakers' winning streak the day after your issue landed in my mailbox.
JAMES FINKELSTEIN, Albany, Ga.
While I agree that Ray Rhodes was fired because he didn't get the job done (THE LIFE OF REILLY, Jan. 24), I disagree with Rick Reilly's reasoning that race wasn't an issue in Rhodes's firing because "since 1960, 17 NFL coaches—all of them white except Rhodes—lasted a year or less on the job." Reilly should ask himself, Since 1960 how many head coaches in the NFL have been black? When he answers that question, maybe he'll see what "righteous cause" the Reverend Jesse Jackson stands for.
MIKE SZAJENKO, Warren, Mich.
Black and white is not the issue; wins and losses are. Rhodes was fired not because of his color but for the same reason Chan Gailey lost his in Dallas: not winning enough games to please his team's owner.
JIM BOGGS, Greensboro, N.C.
Jackson is right that Rhodes was held to a different standard. When Rhodes was hired by Ron Wolf after going 9-22-1 in his last two years with the Eagles, Wolf handed him a great chance, and it didn't work out. That's called opportunity, not racism.
FRITZ MENZEL, Stevens Point, Wis.
Reilly writes that the rebel flag still flies above stadiums in South Carolina. I have been to most of the stadiums in the state, and I am unaware that the Confederate flag is flying over any of them. The matter of the Confederate flag's flying over the state-house is heated enough without hyperbole.
HEYWARD HARVEY, Charleston, S.C.
Master of the Game
Your query into why Pete Maravich averaged 44.5 points during his senior year raises the question, Could the Pistol do it today (INSIDE COLLEGE BASKETBALL, Jan. 17)? Undoubtedly not. Nowadays, with the three-pointer, Maravich would probably be popping in more like 50 to 60 points a night since many of his outside shots were from well beyond three-point range.
BILL FREEZE, Provo, Utah
While it is true that the college game of today resembles the pro game of yesteryear, there is another compelling reason why there are no more scorers like Maravich. College basketball has better athletes than 25 years ago—but not better basketball players. The player now knows six or seven ways to dunk, but he can't shoot with his off hand. He can take off from the free throw line for a tomahawk jam, but he can't shoot a free throw. While few would deny that Maravich was a terrific athlete, all would agree that he was first and foremost a basketball player. That's more than I can say for most of today's college players.
ERIC GOLBERG, Los Angeles
Your article High Five (Jan. 17) on the maturing of Tiger Woods was right on the mark. Not only has Tiger dominated the world's best golfers, but he has also grown despite the distractions. We should all be so lucky as to have the skill and maturity of this kid!
TODD J. GONYEAU, Ticonderoga, N.Y.