BUCKS AND BOMBS
I would like to congratulate Frank Deford on his NBA predictions (Goodby to the Old Balance of Power, Oct. 27). They were a riot! Thanks for the laughs.
JOHN DEVENDORF JR.
I have enjoyed Mr. Deford's articles in the past, but it seems incredible to me that such an obviously learned basketball writer can pick the Milwaukee Bucks and the Baltimore Bullets to finish ahead of the New York Knickerbockers. The Knicks have got to have the most balanced and deepest team in basketball. Mr. Deford must have been watching the ABA when the Knicks swept the Bullets in the playoffs and narrowly lost to Boston with Walt Frazier, maybe one of the best guards in the NBA, operating at half speed in the last two games. Now, with 12 men instead of nine and with such substitutes as Cazzie Russell, Dave Stallworth and the underrated Mike Riordan, how can they be beaten by the one-man Milwaukee Alcindors? My point is proved by the Knicks' current record: 10-1.
Frank Deford's list of teams and their order of finish was undoubtedly a printer's mistake. Turning the magazine upside down and starting with Philadelphia at the top would give basketball fans a truer picture of the outcome.
THOMAS W. STEWART
What a bomb you dropped on the American Basketball Association (Competition Will Be Stimulating, but the Quality Is Second Best, Oct. 27). Granted, there is plenty of inequality between the ABA and NBA. There is none worse, however, than the unequal coverage you give the two pro leagues. Public acceptance of the ABA is vital to its survival and growth. In Indiana we have accepted the Pacers and the rest of the Lively League teams, too. We sincerely hope you will do the same in the near future.
GEORGE W. SCHMUTTE
My Story (Oct. 27 et seq.) by Lew Alcindor with Jack Olsen provided me with a rare insight into the trials and tribulations of a black star of today. It is an infrequent occasion when an athlete, black or white, can express himself in the manner that Lew has. He must be given credit for putting up with the immense amount of attention and prejudice to which he has been exposed and still remaining a stable and sensible person.
Congratulations to Jack Olsen on his excellent story about Lew Alcindor. While reading the story I felt obliged to ask if Mr. Olsen was writing about Lew's basketball career or about Lew's hardships while playing basketball. Surely Mr. Olsen realizes that if everyone in the world is against Lew, as the story tries to make us believe, Lew would never have received a free education from UCLA. I am sure Lew was not expecting it to be easy.
I think that in this day and age most of us judge an athlete not by his color but rather by the athlete's ability to compete in a given sport. I, for one, think that Big Lew is going to make an excellent pro basketball player.
Recently you ran a short article calling attention to the plight of Oregon State University basketball player Gary Freeman (SCORECARD, Sept. 15). He had played in an unauthorized benefit basketball game and was declared ineligible for his senior year by the NCAA. The next week (19TH HOLE, Sept. 22) you printed a letter I wrote protesting the NCAA action. I also had contacted members of the NCAA council.
I am pleased to pass on the news that the NCAA council reversed its earlier decision and has allowed Gary Freeman to compete this winter. He hopes to play professional basketball and then to coach in high school. Because I was one of several public officials who spoke against the earlier action, I want to publicly praise the NCAA for its most recent decision. The NCAA council showed that it acts in the best interests of the athlete involved.
MARK O. HATFIELD
United States Senator
PENN IN HAND
With all due respect to a fine Penn State football team and Pat Putnam's article (State Stands Tall with the Aid of Some Zap, Oct. 27), I think it should be pointed out that Syracuse out-everythinged Penn State offensively and defensively in this year's edition of the East's biggest rivalry. Special credit should go to the defensive unit that held State without a first down until a few minutes were left in the first half.
JAMES C. BUCK