BILL BRADLEY'S GAME
Bill Bradley's article on what it takes to build a true team (You Can't Buy Heart, Oct. 31) was the best I have ever read in your magazine. Bradley was my favorite player not because he could dunk like Dr. J or block shots like Wilt (he couldn't), but because he was the ultimate team player. He personified on and off the court the admirable qualities of self-sacrifice, dedication and discipline.
Unfortunately, many of today's players are too self-centered to heed the message in Bradley's article. I would rather see a Bradley 15-foot jump shot off a Dave DeBusschere pick than a Darryl Dawkins dunk any day. The NBA has suffered a great loss with Bradley's retirement. For me at least, basketball will never be the same.
Bill Bradley described what team sports should be, yet seldom are. Individual egos usually are bigger than the collective heart.
Fort Wayne, Ind.
In a few days I'll be trying out for my high school freshman team, and Bill Bradley's inspiring article put me in just the right frame of mind. I'm not much of a scorer. I'm the guy who looks more for the open man than the tough outside jumper. I was worried that I wouldn't make the team because of my lack of shooting ability, but now I have more confidence in myself.
It is encouraging to read an article that deals with teamwork and the value of subordinating oneself for the betterment of all. Surely this message is important not only in sports but also in everyday life.
JOSEPH P. LAPETINA
Bill Bradley makes a simple game seem very complex. Basketball on any level is a game matching strength, speed, coordination, stamina, desire and other physical skills. I've seen Bradley play many times and all he ever did was throw unimportant, simple, fundamental passes, which can be done by most teen-agers. I would prefer that articles like this be written by players who played well rather than talked well.
ON THE ROUGH SIDE
Congratulations on an incredible pro basketball issue (Oct. 31). Besides providing us with great basketball insight, your stories showed heart and warmth. Bill Bradley's concept of the game is so right. But I would like to correct John Papanek on one point in his article on the enforcers (When the Going Gets Rough). He wrote that in earlier days "enforcers were more crudely known as 'hatchet men.' "
An enforcer is one thing, a hatchet man another. An enforcer is a basketball player. A hatchet man was (and still is) a 12th man on the team whose purpose is to go in there and hit, a role I have played. I rode the bench for many long games, but whenever anyone started trouble, I would go in. If our opponents had a superstar who was burning us, I would get rough with him, start a fight, so both of us would be ejected from the game. My team lost nothing, the opponents usually lost not only their superstar, but also the game. That is a hatchet man.
Union City, N.J.
After reading John Papanek's glorification of unnecessary violence in the NBA, I suggest that you confiscate his typewriter. There is no question that basketball requires a certain amount of physical contact and that strength is a tremendous asset in the game. Accepting those facts, an article about basketball's toughest competitors, or its strongest men, would be of some interest. But the Papanek article highlighted blatant rule breaking: Kermit Washington dropped John Shumate "with a flurry of hooks and haymakers. Shumate came apart in sections." Calvin Murphy "howitzered [ Sidney Wicks'] face into a bloody pulp."
Let's not blame TV or radio for inciting violence; let's blame irresponsible journalists who encourage it by giving coverage to athletes who turn a game into a lousy street fight. Your article will be a stimulus for impressionable young athletes to turn high school and playground basketball into bloody street brawls.