An Early Ming
I thought Ian Thomsen did a great job on the article about Yao Ming (The New Mr. Big, Oct. 28). I agree that Yao has a long way to go before he can play up to Shaq's level, but I think that after a few years he will have the ability to be a key weapon.
BEN DAVIS, St. Louis
Your story on Yao quoted a scout as saying, "Yao wasn't born with those basketball skills. He had to earn them with hours and hours of practice." I am not an expert in biology, but I wonder, is anyone born with basketball skills? Perhaps this is a sly way of getting at the subtly racist notion that there is some inherent athleticism—to use the clich� one hears from many hoops announcers—that African-American players are born with but that others get robbed of in the great genetic lottery. I don't think anyone gets to the NBA without "hours of practice."
RICHARD SACKS, Ridgefield, Conn.
Shaq and Company
How can you possibly rank the Kings ahead of the Lakers (SCOUTING REPORTS, Oct. 28)? I am a Philadelphian, a 76ers fan and the farthest thing from a Lakers supporter, but I find it mind-blowing that you can disregard the fact that the Lakers beat the Kings every time it counts. Your ranking is ludicrous, unless, of course, you are intentionally trying to provide Shaq and Kobe with extra motivation. Until the Kings actually upend the Lakers, they don't deserve the top spot.
JOE LEONARD, Philadelphia
Although Frankenshaq (Oct. 28) was entertaining and thorough, it was basically unnecessary. If you want to stop—or at least slow down—Shaq, have the referees show some guts and call what they are supposed to call instead of swallowing their whistles or turning their heads every time O'Neal drives a shoulder or elbow through a stationary opponent's sternum or camps out in the lane long enough to make another lame rap album.
TODD ERICKSON, Fridley, Minn.
You forgot to give Frankenshaq one important body part: MJ's tongue!
STUART SENESCU Highland Park, Ill.
The yellow box indicating Barry Bonds's strike zone (World Premiere, Oct. 28) will only perpetuate the failure of umpires to call the strike zone by the rule book. Your rectangle is about six inches low at both the top and the bottom. If we could get the strike zone called correctly, it would help shorten the time of the games to 2� hours. Then, maybe, baseball would return as our national pastime.
WALTER H. KNOX III, Bridgewater, Va.
In the Picture
On Aug. 4, 1984, I boarded a flight from LAX to JFK and immediately spied a stunning blonde sitting across the aisle reading SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. I asked to borrow her SI, we spoke and, eventually, that gorgeous woman became my wife. I married into an Angels family and soon switched my allegiance from the Tigers. Eighteen years later we settled into our seats at Edison Field for Game 1 of the World Series only to have Barry Bonds spoil the second inning, and ultimately the game, with, a home run. Photographer John Biever captured that frightful moment (LEADING OFF, Oct. 28), and he captured something else. We are the couple sitting behind the net, the stunning blonde and myself in red. Thanks for bringing us together in '84 and putting us together in SI in '02. We have come full circle with you and the Angels.
MICHAEL O. JOHNSON, Malibu, Calif.
I watched the Perm State-Michigan game to which Joe Paterno referred in complaining about the officiating (What's Up with Joe Pa?, Oct. 28). Yeah, they blew that call. What Joe Pa doesn't mention is that a play or two earlier in the same series, on the opposite sideline, the refs ruled that the Penn State receiver completed a pass, but replays clearly showed he was out-of-bounds before gaining possession.
GARY POKRASSA, Roslyn Heights, N.Y.
Rick Reilly makes some good points in his Fans' Bill of Rights (THE LIFE OF REILLY, Oct. 28). I hate it when my husband asks me to fix the garbage disposal while I'm watching a game, or to open a pickle jar while I'm watching SportsCenter. The worst is when he crashes my Mustang and then tries to tell me about it while I'm watching sports. (Spouses are notoriously bad drivers.) It's a good column, Rick, but don't try to paint all women as the nagging wife—some of us just want to watch the game with a cold beer and a heaping plate of wings.
LAUREN GROSS, Philadelphia
Going to the Matt
There are two great reasons for CATCHING UP WITH Matt Biondi (Oct. 28). He completed his education, and he will achieve immortality—by sharing his knowledge through teaching.
DONALD J. DAIGLE, New Orleans