Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Harvey Pollack Closes The Book

The Best
The last original employee of the National Basketball Association, 76ers statistician Harvey Pollack, passed away earlier tonight. He was 93.

To call Pollack a giant in the history of the game is to trivialize the word giant. He was to basketball what Henry Chadwick was to baseball, what Jerry Izenberg and the Sabol brothers are to the NFL -- simply the pioneer of a field that thousands more would enter, and untold millions would enjoy.

It's Pollack's handwriting on Wilt Chamberlain's 100 sign, but his legacy is a lot more than that. He brought advanced (non-counting) statistics to the game decades before other sports got there, published books that the people who worked in the game refused to do without, and brought a joy to the work that was contagious and lifelong.

Here's the thing about Pollack, and perhaps the best wish you can ever make for a life well lived... he never retired. He loved what he did, and was so good at it, that he never had, or wanted, to stop. And the fact that he never stopped working for the Sixers was one of the small touch points that has helped those of us who root for the laundry... well, reassure us that as bad as the product might get on the floor, they still did some things right.

A very small aside: I happen to play in fantasy leagues with one of his grandsons, who has worked with him for years, as the Pollack family business has been a legacy that's been shared over generations. The Pollack I know is a strong competitor, a distinctive voice at the draft, an owner who never quits on his club no matter what the luck brings, and just an all-around good guy. My condolences to him and his family.

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