THE LAKERS' LEADER
Many people think Pat Riley is a cocky, arrogant man, but Kenny Moore's article (Not Just A Pretty Face, Oct. 28) disproved that myth and also pointed out what a terrific basketball mind Riley has. In each of his first four seasons as head coach the Lakers have gone to the NBA finals. As perhaps the biggest Laker fan in Massachusetts, I may be a little biased, but I feel it is a shame that a man who has accomplished this in a day and age of super talent in the NBA, and done it with a team made up of so many different personalities, has never been named Coach of the Year. Maybe at the end of the 1985-86 season, when the Lakers become the first team in 17 years to repeat for the title, people will finally realize what a champion Riley really is.
No wonder the Lakers had the upper hand in beating the Celtics last year! Take another look at Michael Cooper holding Danny Ainge on page 67 of your Oct. 28 issue and Riley handling Scott Wedman on page 85.
Incidentally, there will be no repeat championship for L.A., because the banner will be brought back to Boston!
ARMANDO G. LLORENTE
I have been thinking about Patrick Ewing's trouble with fighting (The Year Of Ewing, Oct. 28). In his college days, Ewing claimed the key as his domain, and nobody could challenge him. But now that Patrick is in the bigs, the price for the key is much higher. Against stronger and bigger athletes, Ewing is in store for a long, hard season.
East Lyme, Conn.
In answer to Jack McCallum's question, "Are there any guards on [the Dallas Mavericks]?" (Scouting Reports, Oct. 28), allow me to ask him a question: Did you watch the NBA All-Star Game last season? The Mays' Rolando Blackman is one of the game's premier guards: he averaged nearly 20 points per game in '84-85 while providing coach Dick Motta with a defensive leader. Gosh, Jack, Ro has even been on SI's cover—when he played for Kansas State (March 23, 1981).
I should also mention Brad Davis and Derek Harper, both above-average point guards. They complete what has become a very balanced and solid basketball team. Now maybe you'll rethink that lowly fourth-place prediction.
The Sudanese Swatter, as Jack McCallum calls him, or Manute (Basket) Bol, as he is better known, is not a member of a "flying circus." He is for real. A few more pounds and some playing time with the Washington Bullets will show the rest of America what we in the Bridgeport, Conn. area already know—Bol can play the game.
Jack McCallum's scouting report on the Atlantic Division was very accurate, except for one thing. There is no way the Bullets will finish ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers. I don't care if they do have a player who is 7'7", they still will not get by Julius Erving, Charles Barkley, Moses Malone and friends. Washington will be lucky if it gets by the Nets. Washington needs more than Manute Bol.
THINKING TOO BIG?
While I admire Manute Bol's efforts to play in the NBA (Welcome To "Air Bol" Oct. 21 and Pro Basketball 1985-86, Oct. 28), I think he illustrates a key problem with the pro game. It is getting to the point where a normal-sized player, no matter how talented, has no place in the game, but any big man, regardless of his skills, can find a place at the game's highest level. "You can't teach height," pro coaches say, so they scour the world for giants and teach them the rudiments of the game. At the same time, smaller players with magnificent skills—Ricky Stokes is one example—are rarely given a chance. And what is the pro game becoming? Mountainous lunks banging each other under the boards and slam-dunking. Big deal! I propose that the NBA limit each team to 32 feet 6 inches of height on the floor at anyone time.
Jack McCallum couldn't have put it better when he said, "This is the Twilight Zone." A player with more blocked shots than points or rebounds? Manute Madness it is, and I'm all for it. I will be interested to see and read more about this 91-inch monster.