I enjoyed Bruce Newman's fine article, (Let's Get Physical, Nov. 9) about the unfortunate trend toward more physical play in the NBA. Speed and finesse should be the keys to winning in what is called a noncontact sport. Either the league has to change the rules to suit today's players, or it has to enforce the rules that are in place. If the officials limit physical play through the calling of fouls, then maybe we can get back to watching basketball.
PETER A. WOLF
Leigh Montville's article (Where Fouls Are Fair, Nov. 9) explains why finesse is taking a backseat to physicality in the NBA. Sure, a push or a shove here or there should be overlooked as part of the game. However, NBA chief of officials Darell Garretson says he won't call a violation unless he feels the guilty player gained an advantage. He might as well be saying, O.K., guys, try whatever you want, and if I feel like calling it a foul, I will.
I am left with one question: Who will be the Darryl Stingley of the NBA?
Kudos to Darell Garretson and the rest of the NBA referees. I believe the quality of these refs far outstrips that of their counterparts in the collegiate ranks. Referees dominate the college game and spend so much time calling ticky-tack personals or those excruciatingly bad charging fouls that I can hardly stand to watch. College refs tend to be inconsistent and appear to be much more sensitive to home court pressures. In the pro game the calls are very consistent.
JAMES A. BROWN
John Biever's photo of a bloodied Anthony Johnson knifing his way through the Navy defense (Notre Dame Is Golden Again, Nov. 9) is a classic. Whether or not the Irish's Tim Brown wins the Heisman Trophy, Johnson should win a Purple Heart and Biever a gold star for a picture that captures the very essence of the Notre Dame mystique.
There were two spectacular photos in your Nov. 9 issue. The fresh red blood of Notre Dame's Anthony Johnson lent visible meaning to the description of football as a collision sport. John Biever's exquisite portrayal of this determined running back plowing through adversity is timeless. And Manny Millan's glimpse (Fourth Title for Thomas) of the impending doom in Juan Roldan's eyes, particularly since Thomas Hearn's fist is cocked from above, shows impeccable skill and timing.
I've enjoyed SI's articles and illustrations for nearly 30 years. They have been consistently evocative, with some, like these, particularly so.
Why, when you express such serious concern over violence in hockey and basketball in your Nov. 9 issue, do you then turn around and brush off Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz's revolting morning workouts? I'm tired of reading about real men "throwing up together" for the sake of team unity. Coaches like Holtz bring their own form of violence into athletics, and they need to be stopped. A team should be able to work together without the benefit of such practices.
BENGTSON ON MIX
The story by Ron Mix (So Little Gain for the Pain, Oct. 19) was the poorest piece of journalism I have ever seen in your magazine. Just because the Chargers, for whom Mix played from 1960 to '69, violated principles of good injury prevention and treatment doesn't mean that other teams do the same thing. Citing Vince Lombardi and Bear Bryant as coaches who mistreated players was a low blow. Neither is alive to defend himself. Henry Jordan, who is also deceased, was an entertaining speaker, and he used facetious remarks to amuse his listeners. His reference to Lombardi's players' being treated "like dogs" was just such a remark. In another of Henry's stories, he said that it wasn't true that Coach Lombardi walked on water. In fact, he said, he "sank about this far," indicating about two inches with his thumb and index finger.
I guarantee that Henry had nothing but the greatest respect for Vince and his methods, as do all of Lombardi's former players. Coach Lombardi never recommended any treatment, or lack thereof, that would jeopardize a player's health or well-being.