KAREEM & CO.
Your May 9 cover story on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (The Force Ran Its Course) showcased the fact that at 36 he's playing some of the best basketball of his life. As a fan, I've appreciated the determination, hustle and enthusiasm he has exhibited this season. If consistency in sports is a mark of greatness—and I believe it is—then Abdul-Jabbar is just about the greatest.
I was amazed to see that Los Angeles' 3-1 lead over an average Portland club was bigger news than Milwaukee's 3-0 lead over an excellent Boston team. I can't believe you devoted your cover and main article to the Lakers without giving the Bucks a single sentence, not to mention a photo. Many people expected L.A. to beat the Blazers, but who ever imagined that Milwaukee, without Dave Cowens and with an always hobbling Bob Lanier, would have a three-game lead over the Celtics? The Bucks deserved a pat on the back. It's time the media and SI woke up to the fact that there are teams in the NBA besides Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Boston.
MANDATE FOR MOSES
While reading in my Greek Bible the other day, I stumbled across a verse that took on added significance in light of current events in the NBA playoffs. As is well known, Philadelphia is a Greek word found often in the Bible; in translation it means "brotherly love." With all the references in the press to Moses Malone leading the 76ers to the "promised land"—an NBA championship—the verse I was reading had new force. It was Hebrews 13:1, which says, in effect, "May Philadelphia continue." Moses, you have your mandate!
Master of Divinity Candidate
Western Conservative Baptist Seminary
I was watching the 76ers and the Bucks play their first game of the Eastern Conference finals on TV and also catching up on the latest issue of SI when I came to the article The Rivers of thou Shalt Not (May 9) by William Humphrey. The story made me forget about Moses Malone and Sidney Moncrief and start thinking about the Itchen, the Test and wily trout. In fact I was so inspired by Humphrey's accounts of fishing those fabled waters that I tore myself away from the last seven minutes of the basketball game—of course it went into overtime—and, fly rod in hand, rushed down to the Snake for the first time this season.
Breaking a few of the English angling rules Humphrey cited, such as not wading or casting downstream to an unseen fish, I had the jolly good luck to catch—and release—a 19-inch 3�-pound cutthroat. My thanks to Humphrey for an interesting—and motivating—article.
I enjoyed Jim Kaplan's article on Nolan Ryan's latest milestone (For Ryan, It Was a Very Special K, May 9). Still, I must take exception to his downplaying of the accomplishments of modern pitchers like Ryan by negatively comparing their performances with those of pitchers of Bob Feller's era. I find the statement "And yes, expanding from 16 teams and 400 players to 26 and 650 put more patsy batters on major league rosters" asinine.
Consider the following points: 1) The population of the U.S. has increased by 75 million since 1950, and this growth is mirrored by baseball's expansion; 2) Contemporary pitchers like Ryan are facing outstanding black and Hispanic ballplayers who were barred during earlier eras; and 3) Ryan spent numerous years in the American League facing designated hitters rather than pitchers.
I'm sure Kaplan can counter with a variety of arguments, including the greater diversity of the American sport scene today, which has drawn excellent athletes away from baseball. But I'm tired of hearing about how terrific the players of the "good old days" were. Such statements are very subjective and impossible to justify or refute.
New York City
THE MEANING OF "NO MAS"
I want to thank SI for printing (LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER, May 9) and Angel Reyes for explaining to unknowledgeable Americans the truth about Roberto Duran and the no m�s incident in his second fight with Sugar Ray Leonard. In my opinion, Reyes is correct in his analysis. Even after their first fight, Duran said, "I am no clown." In their second meeting, Leonard made a mockery of the art of boxing. However, most American sports watchers know little of the sweet science and therefore thought Duran quit because he was outboxed. Duran was not going to take part in a circus event. Leonard also avoided even talking about a third match, which would have drawn a lot better than Leonard-Finch or Leonard-Stafford.
JOHN NICHOLAS SKIOTES
As one who has a roommate, I enjoyed Jack McCallum's article For Better, For Worse (May 2). As a Greek major, however, I found a mistake in his research. He claims that Homer "made no mention of roommates in his writings." I think McCallum should open up his copy of The Iliad and check again, because Homer clearly shows his hero, Achilles, "rooming" with a man named Patroklos. I refer specifically to Book Nine of The Iliad, beginning on line 663 of Richmond Lattimore's translation: