John Papanek outdid himself in his fantastic article about Larry Bird, a super human and super basketball player (Gifts that God Didn't Give, Nov. 9). It's an SI classic, and it made me feel good to know that money and fame haven't spoiled the NBA's "best all-around player." Bird really flies high.
RANDY L. JOHNSON
I formerly lived in central Illinois, about 80 miles from Terre Haute, Ind., and I kept hearing rumbles about this guy Larry Bird at Indiana State. Being a realist, I knew that the rumors were an exaggeration, but I drove down to Terre Haute to see for myself. I stood in line for more than three hours and eventually paid more than the standard price for my ticket. When the game started, Indiana State won the tip against Ball State and Bird broke down the lane. He was guarded and didn't get the ball, so he pivoted and broke for the right sideline. He received the ball and executed a 32-foot, turnaround jump shot while flying out of bounds.
The game was only three seconds old, and I had been given my most vivid sports memory. Of course, by the end of the game I realized that what had so electrified me was pretty common stuff for Bird. I've been a Birdwatcher ever since. Thanks for the fine article about an amazing athlete.
John Papanek's article was insightful but it failed to recognize one of Larry Bird's outstanding qualities, his agility. I've tested more than 3,500 college and professional athletes, including Bird, with the ARCO ability test. There is a data file for that test that contains more than 70,000 scores on items of strength, speed, power, agility, endurance, etc. Bird's agility score put him at the 90th percentile. No tall athlete had ever tested that well before. Surely, this helps explain his "good positioning."
ROBERT F. MCDAVID, PH.D.
Human Performance Laboratory
Indiana State University
Terre Haute, Ind.
In the past, I've disagreed with SI on a lot of different issues, but I sure can't disagree this time. Larry Bird is the best all-around player in the NBA.
Larry Bird, the best all-around player in the NBA? No way! Magic Johnson is the best.
Marques Johnson is clearly the best all-around player in the NBA.
Stevens Point, Wis.
Larry Bird may be great, but Julius Erving is amazing.
As a real-estate attorney, I've had plenty of opportunity in these troubled economic times to digest your magazine from cover to cover. I read with interest, as did my brother Shepherd, Bruce Newman's story The NBA Goes Back to School, Nov. 9). More interesting than the article, however, were Lane Stewart's classroom pictures.
The opening photograph shows two blackboards, one with Lincoln's picture above it and a radiator pipe and radiator on the right side, and the other with a picture of George Washington above it and a desk in front. The picture on page 40 again shows the blackboard with Washington's picture above it, but the radiator and radiator pipe appear here, too. At first we figured that Stewart had switched portraits and alphabet letters from one blackboard to the other. However, the photograph on page 40 does not show a light switch to the right of the radiator pipe as does the opening shot. In addition, the pencil sharpener appears to be on the right rear corner of the desk in the opener, whereas it shows up on the right front corner of the desk on page 40. Finally, the blackboard shown on page 40 appears to be dirtier than the one on page 39, which fact could be explained only if the diagram on page 39 was erased and replaced with a different one.