Harvey Pollack, an original NBA employee since its inception as the Basketball Association of America in 1946, died Tuesday at 93 years old. Pollack served as the Philadelphia 76ers’ director of statistical information for the past 28 years and was the last active original employee of the league.
In 1946, Pollack began his career with the Philadelphia Warriors of the Basketball Association of America, which later merged with the National Basketball League to form the National Basketball Association, as the team’s assistant publicity director.
He sat courtside on March 6, 1962, when Warriors center Wilt Chamberlain scored a record 100 points against the New York Knicks. When the game was over, Pollack stuffed the ball in Chamberlain’s duffel bag and organized a famed photo. Pollack wrote ”100” on a piece of paper and gave it to Chamberlain to hold for the classic black-and-white snapshot.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver remembered Pollack via a statement:
“There has never been an NBA without Harvey Pollack, who has been part of the NBA family since he was tracking statistics for the Philadelphia Warriors during the league’s inaugural season. He documented NBA history for nearly 70 years with passion, curiosity and a relentless work ethic. Harvey has been a true caretaker and ambassador of the game, and he will be sorely missed. The entire NBA family sends its deepest condolences to the Pollack family as well as the Philadelphia 76ers organization.”
That sheet of paper noting “100” will most likely be Pollack’s most singularly memorable contribution to the NBA, but his status as a league fixture means that he touched many more aspects of the organization. In all, he was out of the NBA for just one year of its existence.
Moreover, Pollack was at the forefront of the now-burgeoning advanced analytics movement. The Harvey Pollack NBA Statistical Yearbook went through more than 40 annual editions and served as a precursor to many of the more in-depth studies that have garnered attention in recent years. Memphis Grizzlies vice president of basketball operations John Hollinger, one of the men who followed in Pollack’s footsteps, remembered him on Twitter:
Beyond his impact on the statistical community, Pollack touched many key figures in the league’s history. The @NBAHistory account has tweeted many quotes and memories regarding Pollack from Sixers legends like Doug Collins and Billy Cunningham, if you care to take a look. Ex-Sixers such as Andre Iguodala also took the time to pay their respects to Pollack on Tuesday.
Many more Pollack stories are worth your time, from this 2012 profile from The Philadelphia Inquirer to his analysis against the idea that Bill Russell somehow solved Wilt Chamberlain in their one-on-one matchups. He will be missed.
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