I was disappointed by a glaring factual inaccuracy in Albert Hunt's rebuttal (Jan. 20) to my review of Leonard Shapiro's biography of John Thompson ("Big Man on Campus").

Hunt wrote that I cheered for the Soviets against the U.S. Olympic team in 1976 because Dean Smith coached the Americans. Both Hunt and the Post should have known that the U.S. did not play the Soviets while winning the 1976 gold medal (a fact reported in Shapiro's biography).

It should be noted that I have cheered for every American sports team in international competition, no matter who happens to be coaching it. I cheered for the Americans coached by Thompson when they lost to the Soviets in 1988 and was heartsick with the result.

Hunt also repeats a little fiction he originated long ago: that Whittaker Chambers and Lefty Driesell are my two heroes -- a ludicrous juxtaposition that, I suppose, is intended to denigrate both men. Lefty is not my hero, but he is my friend, and one whose magnanimity and civility I commend to both Al Hunt and John Thompson.

Hunt suggests my comments about Thompson are ad hominem, but in fact nearly all come from Shapiro's book, which he calls "superb." As I understand the burden of Hunt's arguments, his defense of the Georgetown coach is that his record is better than Driesell's, which was not the point of the book or my review. Robert D. Novak Washington

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