You have finally done it! You have given your ultimate award to the ultimate athlete. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Now, More Than Ever, A Winner, Dec. 23-30) will live in NBA history as the greatest center ever to play the game. Reviewing his achievements over the past 20 years, it's tough to think of another athlete in any sport who has done as much. He revolutionized the pivot—not with his average (other than shot-blocking) defensive capability, but with his smarts. There is no smarter center in the NBA today. There is no more dependable shot than Kareem's sky hook—and that's after 20 years! And when we speak of durability, well, Kareem's is certainly evident. In the age of dime-a-dozen superstar athletes, Abdul-Jabbar indeed stands head and shoulders above the rest.
I have never enjoyed another man's presence on this earth as much as I have Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's. He is genuine, and I respect him not only for his tremendous talent as an athlete but also for his dedication in seeking a peaceful existence. It was a shame Gary Smith's article had to end.
Great story, great athlete, great man, great choice!
ARTHUR F. AYERS
I was a student at UCLA at the same time as Abdul-Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor). There were occasions when he walked by and I wanted to say "Great game Friday," but for some reason I never got the words out. Perhaps it was the very grim look on his face, which rarely changed. As Jamaal Wilkes said, "There were lines you didn't cross."
It's sad. He was extremely well respected at UCLA, not only as an athlete but as a student and person as well. It's too bad that so many years had to pass before he realized that there were many people out there who truly admired him. At least the ending of the story is a happy one.
What an injustice! Walter Payton is the all-time leading rusher in the NFL, with nine consecutive 100-yard games this season, and you choose Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as Sportsman of the Year. You must be deluded by all that California dreamin'.
Pete Rose beat the unbeatable record, but you picked Abdul-Jabbar. How could you? Pete definitely rose to the occasion.
Kareem was a good choice, but Dwight Gooden should have gotten it.
JEFFREY B. BARRINEAU
Lake City, S.C.
You should have two awards, Athlete of the Year and Sportsman of the Year. We agree with your pick of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as Athlete of the Year, but in our book, TCU coach Jim Wacker exemplifies the word Sportsman.
TOM TRUDELL JR.
Bay City, Mich.
Thank you for Curry Kirkpatrick's excellent analysis of the Bear mystique (Once A Bear, Always A Bear, Dec. 16). I fear that the rest of the country must view this year's media circus in Chicago as a second-rate marketing of egos, arrogance and heavyweight gimmickry. Kirkpatrick accurately points out that Chicago Bear football has always been an exercise in insanity. With all due respect to the rest of the NFL, no one has had more fun winning than the Bears, and no one has ever shown more class when losing during the long, lean years. Lord knows it has not always been easy, but it has always been fun! That is one reason why the Bears' fanatical followers remain so incredibly loyal.
GARY L. MAXEY