Why are basketball fans excited about Yao Ming (Sky Rocket, Feb. 10)? Because he is a purist who plays the game as it was meant to be played. No showboating, no trash-talking, no traveling on the way to a dunk and no palming the ball. Just classic basketball the way it was played when Larry, Magic and Michael led the NBA to its pinnacle of popularity in the 1980s.
MEL MCKEE, Ashland, Mass.
Yaouch! Enough, already. Yao has had more exposure recently than Britney Spears's midriff.
M. ALAN BAGDEN, McLean, Va.
You couldn't have been more wrong with your selection of Detroit's Ben Wallace as the MVP of the NBA season so far (No Kidding, Feb. 10). Kevin Garnett is, without question, one of the top two or three defenders in the game, and, unlike Wallace, he does this while also managing to score points. In fact, Garnett averages a double double, has already had three triple doubles this season and is single-handedly carrying a franchise that has been decimated by injuries and would, unquestionably, be a lottery team without him.
STEVE JACKSON, Aliso Viejo, Calif.
Your claim that no NBA player is more valuable to his team than Wallace is right, save one player: San Antonio's Tim Duncan. Operating without complaints or antics in one of the smallest media markets in the league, Duncan is doing the dirty work (through Feb. 21 his 2.87 blocks and 12.8 rebounds per game are each third in the NBA) while distributing the ball (3.9 assists per game) and averaging 23-4 points a game.
ANDY CHU, Austin
So Wallace thinks "anybody can be taught to be an offensive player"? Fine, go and learn. Until then, Duncan is the MVP.
JEFF SOUZA, Boston
Even the best offensive player can have a poor shooting night, but good defense never has an off night. Wallace is a perfect example of that.
JERRY SCHWARTZ Chamblee, Ga.
I enjoyed the fan poll (The Fans Speak Out, Feb. 10), but you missed an important issue in today's game: the inability of the modern NBA player to shoot. In the last decade basketball offenses have regressed to pre-shot-clock levels. There are only 10 players in the league shooting over 50%, and Shaquille O'Neal is the only one who is a major offensive threat. Twenty years ago about a quarter of the teams in the league were shooting at this level, but now there are no teams making half their shots. Fans want to see scoring, by which I mean a player like James Worthy getting 30 points while shooting 50% from the floor rather than someone like Allen Iverson scoring 30 while shooting 38% or worse.
TIM G. TYLER, Chicago
I find it troubling that 40.5% of middle-aged respondents to your poll said that more white, U.S. stars would help the game of basketball. The only tiling that should matter in basketball is skill combined with competitive drive. I think it's sad that so many people still see only the color of a man's skin.
C.B. MINOR, Oklahoma City
Riding with Jeff
After following NASCAR for years, I had many unpleasant words for Jeff Gordon. After reading your article on him (Speed Demon, Feb. 10), I have two new words for him: class act. Thanks for the other side of the story.
LYNN A. URLAUB, Bolingbrook, Ill.
Like most Canadians, I have almost no interest in NASCAR or Jeff Gordon. However, Jeff MacGregor's Speed Demon was one of the most interesting pieces I have read in your magazine. I love the way he writes about "Molly Hatchet air guitarists" and French existentialists in the same article. I hope we'll be seeing more of his work in your pages.
ANDREW ROGERS, Newmarket, Ont.