After Kareem Abdul-Jabbar made two foul shots to win Game 6 of the NBA Finals for the Los Angeles Lakers, former NBA guard Mike Newlin expounded on how middling many otherwise accomplished players are at shooting free throws ( Abdul-Jabbar, for example, has a good, but not great, .721 career percentage) and on a special—and instructive—moment a decade ago in the L.A. Forum.
At that time, Newlin was with the Houston Rockets, who had just completed a midday shoot-around in preparation for that night's game against the Lakers. The arena lights had been dimmed and everyone had left, except four guys who were shooting free throws: Houston's Rick Barry (a .900 career foul shooter); another Rocket player, Calvin Murphy (.892); the Lakers' then general manager, Bill Sharman (.884); and Newlin (.870), who every day would keep firing until he hit 100 free throws in a row. Says Newlin, "I remember thinking how ironic it was that the four best free throw shooters ever were all there practicing free throws in the dark."
Since then, Larry Bird (.879) has edged past Newlin on the career free throw shooting list. Oh yes, Bird routinely shoots free throws in dim light and is the last one out of the gym.
DOWN TO EARTH
The ski jumping days of Great Britain's Eddie (the Eagle) Edwards (SI, March 14) may be numbered. At the recent International Ski Federation congress in Istanbul, the federation council considered establishing a distance standard for international competition that Edwards, unless he makes a miraculous improvement over his famously inept performances on the 70-and 90-meter jumps at the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, is unlikely to meet. Said council member Ludwig Schroeder of East Germany, "The International Olympic Committee [which asked the federation to establish the standard] supports the national Olympic committees financially. We cannot allow serious sport and clowning to mix. This should help take the wind out of the sails of show sportsmen like Eddie Edwards."
According to the Eagle's manager, Simon Platz, Edwards is very disappointed. "Eddie is worried he won't be given the chance to prove how much he is improving in competitions," said Platz, whose name, by the way, approximates the sound the Eagle makes upon landing.
ATLANTIC CITY JACKPOT
What Monday's Big Fight meant to Atlantic City was, well, everything. According to Al Glasgow, editor and publisher of Atlantic City Action, a casino trade newsletter, a typical four-day weekend in June produces about $215 million in gambling revenues for Atlantic City. By contrast, the estimate for the four days leading up to the Mike Tyson-Michael Spinks fight was $344 million. Also, the city's 16,000 hotel rooms were booked during the period, many of them as "comps" for high-rolling clients. John Fox, a spokesman for the Atlantic City convention and visitors bureau, was left with only one concern: "I just hope all the plumbing works." The bonanza was particularly welcome because Atlantic City has had a hard time establishing itself as a destination resort—which translates into hotel bookings—because it is such an easy commute for millions of East Coast residents. Full hotels should help spread the destination message.
To take maximum advantage of the big spenders, the casinos raised most table minimum bets to $25-$100 (the usual minimum is $5) at virtually all of their 1,303 craps, blackjack and other gaming tables, leaving those for whom that figure was too rich no recourse but to mob the city's 18,540 slot machines. Looking at possible longer-term benefits, Fox expressed confidence that, because of the fight, "people in Nigeria are going to know four words of English—Tyson, Spinks and Trump Plaza." Obviously, Fox forgot that English is the official language of Nigeria, and just as obviously, he wouldn't mind if the words Atlantic City imprint themselves more deeply in everyone's consciousness.