Kevin Love, Wilt Chamberlain & The Greatest Stat Book You’ve Never Heard Of - 12/3/2010

By John Hareas,

The recent Kevin Love 30-30 game elicited a chuckle from Harvey Pollack. It wasn’t a mocking response to Love’s rare accomplishment but rather it was a source of amusement for the 88-year-old Pollack.

Love’s feat prompted Pollack to dig and the result was a gem of an NBA statistical nugget involving the game’s most dominant offensive force.

“I researched and found that in the history of the league there have been 131 30-30 performances including the one by Kevin Love,” said Pollack, the Sixers’ Director of Statistical Information who is better known around NBA circles as ‘SuperStat.’

“Out of that 131 total, Wilt Chamberlain did it 103 times. So that means every player in the history of the league – combined – did it 28 times.”

When it comes to the NBA, there isn’t much that Pollack doesn’t know, a man who has drawn an NBA paycheck for his livelihood dating back to his PR Director days with the Philadelphia Warriors in 1946.

Pollack, who recently started his 65th season in the league, recently published the 2010-11 Harvey Pollack Statistical Yearbook – a must for any NBA fan or stat geek.

It’s the greatest stat book you’ve never heard of and that’s because you can’t buy it via Amazon or Barnes & Noble. This ultimate underground tome can only be purchased from Harvey himself for $15 at the Sixers’ offices (Wells Fargo Center, 3601 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19148) and he receives book orders from all over the world. caught up with Pollack who reflected on highlights of this year’s edition, what Pat Riley contributed, Shaq and Kobe stories and finally saying goodbye to the Spectrum. The Kevin Love 30-30 game recently prompted you do some digging in terms of all time 30-30 games.

Harvey Pollack: I researched and found that in the history of the league there have been 131 30-30 performances including the one by Kevin Love and it hadn’t been done since Moses Malone in 1982.

Out of that 131 total, Wilt Chamberlain did it 103 times. So that means every player in the history of the league – combined -- did it 28 times and only one other player did it more than twice and that was Nate Thurmond, who did it four times. There were about three or four players that did it twice and the rest were just once and a lot of notable players who never did it at all.

I also checked the rebounding leaders every year. Remember, there weren’t any rebounds kept during the first four years of the league, so, there are only 60 rebounding champions. I checked the rebounding winners each season and how many times they accomplished a 30-30 and it was either one or zero.

That’s another crowning achievement of Wilt’s career that nobody even mentions today because most of the writers today weren’t covering NBA basketball when Wilt was playing and he hasn’t played since 1973.

I always check history whenever a record is tied or broken. It was a surprise to me that Wilt did it so many times. The season in which Wilt scored 100 points – 1961-62 -- he actually did a 30-30 31 times. Gives you an idea of how far ahead he was against all of the players he was with. The 30-30 accomplishment seems like a natural addition to the Harvey Pollack Stat Book.

Harvey Pollack: Absolutely, it will be a notable addition. In next year’s book, I will have a complete 30-30 list. Then the list will show how many times each one of these players won a rebounding title and the players who never did it and how many rebounding titles they won. For example, Dennis Rodman won 7 rebounding titles but he never accomplished a 30-30. How much bigger is this year’s book versus last year’s edition?

Harvey Pollack: We’re up to 334 pages for this season’s version. Usually, the page count goes up about 10 pages each year.

The first book that I put out – it wasn’t the Harvey Pollack book. It was 1968 and Commissioner Walter Kennedy made it mandatory that every team publish a media guide, not just for the affluent owners or teams, who would publish one.

In the formation of the league, the only income the owners – Eddie Gottlieb, Ben Kerner, Danny Biasone – their only income was from basketball, not like today’s owners, who are millionaires or billionaires off of other enterprises outside the game.

In those days, the owners weren’t going to spend the money to put out the media guides until Kennedy made it mandatory.

The first book I published was in 1966-67 season when the Sixers won the title. We actually put it out during the middle of the season. It was only 24 pages and it had Schmidt’s beer as an advertiser on every one of the pages since they paid for the cost of it. Then the following year they did it again and we increased the total of pages to 36. The next year the NBA said that media guides were mandatory.

The Sixers owners’ Irv Kosloff said we’re doing away with Schmidt’s beer, we’re putting it out without any ads in the book. The book went up from 36 to 96 pages and it’s been rising ever since. Then in 1994, the Sixer and NBA totals got too big for binding, that’s when they broke the books down into two separate versions: The Sixers media guide and the Harvey Pollack book. What are some of the new categories you added for this year’s version?

Harvey Pollack: We have the NBA’s all time left-handed players, relatives – fathers-sons -- who played in the league and all kind of relatives, cousins, second cousins, nephews,
grandfathers/grandsons, grandfathers who have grandsons. Plus we have the best Crunch Time players from last season, player evaluations by different experts and the distance of every field goal made.

Actually, my goal is to have the distance of every field goal attempted taken during the season. When Larry Brown was the coach of the Sixers, I used to do that for the opposing team in the playoffs.

It’s going to take a lot of work but I would love to do it.

We also break down all of the dunks the players make – alley oop, reverse, slam, put back, running.

We scour every play-by-play sheet for every game of the entire season – 1,230. In addition to yourself, how many people assist you in compiling the statistics?

Harvey Pollack: Well, during the course of a year, I have interns in the Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. Last year, I had approximately 22 who contributed something to the book. In the summer, I had nine interns from all parts of the country and they brought their own laptops in and we were able to finish the book two months earlier. With the NBA being a global game, you must receive orders from all over the world?

Harvey Pollack: Oh, yeah. I just received an order for the third year in a row from a book store in Estonia. One of his customers always comes in and asks for the Harvey Pollack Stat book. We’ve sold this in Japan, England, France, Mexico and Canada.

It’s known around the world, not just here in the United States. We’re witnessing historically significant players in guys such as Shaq and Kobe who are climbing up the milestones chart. Do you think Shaq will join Kareem, Mailman, MJ and Wilt to become the fifth player ever to reach the 30,000 point club?

Harvey Pollack: Well, Shaq is starting and playing minutes, about 23 per game and he’s less than 1,600 points away from 30,000. At age 38, he’s the oldest player in the league. I’m not sure if he wants to surpass Kareem who played until he was 41 but you never know.

Shaq is one of my biggest fans. I gave him my first book back in ’95. I would always have Shaq sign stuff for people who give me shirts, hats or other stuff. Now, when Shaq sees me, the first thing he says is, “Where’s my book?” and I say “I didn’t ask you for any signings yet. He says, “You will.”

Dean Oliver of the Trail Blazers was in town just the other day and asked me, “Hey, Harv, where’s my book. I’m lost without it.” So, I have to mail him one.

Another quick Shaq story: When Shaq visited Philadelphia a couple of years ago when he was with the Phoenix Suns, there was a story in the paper about the largest shoes in league history and how Bob Lanier’s had the biggest size at 22.

So, I asked around and said who else could have that size and someone said, “How about Shaq?” So I called down to Miami and they said he takes a size 23 and I then I said, “He’s bigger than Lanier. I want to include this fact in my book.”

So when Shaq visited that season, I asked him if he took a size 23 and he said, “Who told you that?” I said the Miami Heat. He said, “What do they know?”

He said he didn’t take a size 23 but a size 22, so he tied Lanier for the biggest sneaker in the history of the league and I forgot to put it in this year’s book but I will add it for next year though. Outside of yourself and interns, you have coaches around the league who contribute.

Harvey Pollack: Rick Carlisle contributed to the book. As soon as Dallas visits Philadelphia, I’ll give him a copy of book. Del Harris has contributed so has Pat Riley.

I welcome suggestions every year from anybody. I’m always looking for new categories. What did Pat Riley contribute?

Harvey Pollack: Pat Riley wanted field goal percentages broken down among two and three point field goals opposed to the way they are currently kept, which is combined. He asked me about this when Miami visited and I told him how about if I take the top three-point shooters and take away their three-point field goals made and attempted and tabulate their two-point attempts. He said that was a good idea.

I think we’re up to 150 players now. Charles Barkley was league leader many times if you just kept the two-point field goal percentage. You know Kobe Bryant well from his father playing with the Sixers. Kobe is in position to leap frog past some of the all-time scoring greats and finish behind Shaq at No. 6 in all time scoring by the end of the season.

Harvey Pollack: Kobe keeps in excellent shape and he is a real threat to catch Abdul-Jabbar as the all time leader (38,387). Kobe also had a head start entering the league at a young age, 18, but is a terrific talent.

Kobe is another player who always asks me for a copy of my book when the Lakers visit.

I once gave Kobe something to sign and he told me he couldn’t sign it because it was a Converse shirt and he has a contract with Nike. So, that night, he told me to see him after the game.

When I entered the locker room after the game, he was holding court with the media. As you can imagine, it was quite a scene with the print and broadcast reporters. Kobe saw me enter the room and he told the media to wait a couple of minutes because he had to do something. Then he yelled out for the trainer who grabbed the pair of shoes Kobe wore that night. Kobe then signed the shoes before handing them to me. He wears a different pair of shoes every game.

Those shoes are a collector’s item. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them. I probably will give them to my kids. You attended the demolition ceremony at the Spectrum last week along with Julius Erving. What are some memories that stand out?

Harvey Pollack: Actually, I was there for the groundbreaking of the Spectrum, 1967-68.

The memories that really stand out are the games between the Sixers and Boston. I don’t think there’s ever been a rivalry that intense between two teams because each team had a superstar – Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain. Every game was sensational whether the games were played in Philadelphia or Boston, playoffs or regular season. They were always sold out. One of those games is when Wilt got the 55 rebounds against Russell, which is still the league record.

When Wilt retired, he held 128 different records in the NBA Guide, now it’s down to 97. Remember, it’s still 97 records for a man who hasn’t played in 37 years. So, his feats have stood the test of time. Just like the 30-30, no one came close to Wilt. He’s done it 103 times.

Julius made the longest speech at the Spectrum demolition when he was there but he brought back instances and people the crowd all knew. His speech was the best but it was also the longest. It was a little chilly out there that day.

I’ve outlasted a lot of buildings. I outlasted the Philadelphia Arena where the Warriors started, the Philadelphia Convention Hall, Veterans Stadium is down. The place the Sixers played in Camden is down. They played in high schools. All of the baseball stadiums – the Baker Bowl -- where the Phillies played and Connie Mack Stadium, where the A’s played. I was always there. Yellow Jacket Stadium where they used to have auto racing.

I’ve outlasted a lot of sporting venues. I’ve seen a lot of wrecking balls come through here.


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