A NATIONAL DISGRACE
Last week in Las Vegas a pickup U.S. basketball team was creamed 90-71 by the Soviet Union's national team, the fourth straight defeat the Russians had inflicted on the U.S. during their current tour of this country.
It was a disgrace—not the defeat, but the way the Americans played and, in particular, the U.S. attitude toward the game. The American coaches in Nevada were Johnny Kerr of the Phoenix Suns and Jack McMahon of the San Diego Rockets, neither of whom is thoroughly familiar with the rules used in international competition. The players were mostly rookie professionals who hope to make either the Suns or the Rockets. Most had never played together previously, and in the Las Vegas game it was obvious that they expected to make up for this with brute force and rugged play. As a result, 43 fouls were called on them by the two officials (one a Finn, the other a Puerto Rican). Seven U.S. players fouled out. Two Russians were slugged in the mouth, perhaps unintentionally. The Soviet coach, who knows a few American terms, shouted, "Football! Football!"
Despite the roughness and the slugging, the Russians kept their poise, avoided incidents and controlled the game. Although their coach later praised the Americans, the visitors were reported to have expressed privately surprise and disappointment in the lack of class and teamwork on the U.S. team.
We feel disappointment, too, but hardly surprise. Except for the Olympic Games, the same shoddy approach to international play has been characteristic of U.S. national basketball teams. It is time it stopped.
RUN AND TONIC
Bruce Tulloh, the British distance runner, turned professional this year and, sponsored by Schweppes quinine water, set out to run from Los Angeles all the way across the U.S. Last week he trotted into New York—after taking the Staten Island Ferry as it crossed Upper New York Bay—having completed the 2,876-mile trek across mountain, desert and plain in 64 days and 20 hours, a new record for the event (the old record, 73 days, was set by Don Shepard in 1964).
Tulloh, a small, trim, pleasant man, was accompanied—in his car and trailer—by his wife, his 7-year-old son and his cousin. He ran an average of 44 miles a day, usually in four separate sprints of 10 or 11 miles each, and drank Schweppes for refreshment (the party went through as much as a case a day in the desert). There was no report as to whether Tulloh consumed his share of the tonic in a typically civilized British manner—mixed with gin—but we suppose not. Otherwise he would certainly have claimed two records.
Joe Namath's claim that all he has to do to return to football is sell his share in Bachelors III, the East Side bar that was a hangout for gamblers, bookmakers and mobsters, is not very persuasive. Last week, after an inconclusive meeting with Namath, Commissioner Pete Rozelle said, "Our concern involved the whole matter of associations [with undesirables]. Bachelors III is part of it, because that's where some of the associations started. It [Namath's return] would require a full understanding of all aspects of the associations problem. In other words, the matter is not restricted to Bachelors III."
HUNTING IN NEW MEXXXICO
The New Mexico State Game and Fish Department started importing oryxes and ibexes from Africa in 1963 to see if they could eventually be released for big-game hunting in that state. The original animals have been breeding happily in the Albuquerque zoo, and their offspring have been doing likewise in an experimental holding pasture near Silver City. They have been thriving so well that they need more room, and the game managers, up to their coccyxes in oryxes and ibexes, have worked out a deal with the commander of the White Sands Missile Range. He has agreed to let 10 or 15 oryxes use a fenced-off region near the point where the Army fires tests of Pershing and Athena missiles. The missiles are not expected to bother the animals and may produce one real fringe benefit for the hunters: it is hard to imagine oryxes and ibexes who have become used to missiles being spooked by mere rifles.