Harvey Pollack, the Jewish Philadelphian whose professional basaketball career predated the NBA itself, died on Tuesday, months after suffering serious injuries in a car accident.
Harvey Pollack, one of the most legendary names in Philadelphia sports history, died Tuesday night at 93.
Pollack, who was known as “Super Stat” for his lifelong work with both the Philadelphia Warriors (now the recently crowned Golden State Warriors) and the Philadelphia 76ers, began working in the Basketball Association of America, the precursor to the National Basketball Association. According to the NBA, Pollack was the last inaugural employee from the league at the time of his death.
Pollack’s hardwood love affair began in 1942, while attending Temple University. He became student manager for Temple basketball, in the process revolutionizing statistics for college basketball by going beyond just recording shots and points, adding in numerous other categories. Pollack is credited with tracking things like offensive and defensive rebounds, steals, turnovers, blocked shots and minutes played, all of which had not been traditionally recorded before. He also coined many of the terms regularly heard in basketball today, such as “triple double.”
Pollack began with the Philadelphia Warriors as the team’s assistant publicity director in 1946.
Pollack’s passing is a significant loss for the 76ers and the Philadelphia sports community in general. He spent the last 28 years as the Sixers’ director of statistical information. He published the famous annual Sixers Media Guide and the NBA Statistical Yearbook, which included over 300 pages of stats and trivia in its 44th edition, the most recent one available.
“He may never have laced up his sneakers, but few have done more to advance the game — in the NBA or Philadelphia basketball — than Harvey,” Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil said. “He did what he loved until the end, and shared that love of statistics and basketball with his family, who we remember at this difficult time.
“We count ourselves incredibly lucky to have had his wealth of knowledge, indomitable spirit, passionate drive and love for our sport with us here in Philadelphia and with the Sixers for so many years. He will be missed, while his legacy will endure.”
He also contributed stories for many publications. At one particular game in 1962, where he was scorekeeping as well as serving as correspondent for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Associated Press and United Press International, he helped create one of the most iconic sports photos of all time after witnessing Wilt Chamberlain score a 100-point game. He quickly scribbled “100” on a piece of paper that Chamberlain held up in the photo to commemorate the game.
Pollack received the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award upon his induction into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2002, and was inducted into the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.
Pollack, who was born in Camden in 1922 and moved to Philadelphia with his family at 6 months old, was the only person to have all four championship rings from Philadelphia teams—two from the Warriors in 1947 and 1955, and two from the Sixers, in 1967 and 1983.
He was involved in a car accident in January that had left him seriously injured with a broken hip, pelvis, jaw and multiple broken ribs.