Archive for Saturday, May 18, 2002

Kings’ Pollard proof hard work pays

May 18, 2002


Scot Pollard was chosen No. 1 by the Detroit Pistons in the 1997 National Basketball Assn. draft after his senior season at Kansas. Some were skeptical he could cut it as a big-time pro. No doubts about the imaginative guy with the alternating hair hues and styles anymore.

Scot had the size and strength and would only get better in those categories in the NBA. But was he quick enough and skillful enough after averaging just under 10 points and seven rebounds a game in four years here?

Pollard spent the 1998-99 season with the Pistons, saw service with the Atlanta Hawks in '99 and wound up with the Sacramento Kings in '99. Time was when a spot on the Kings' roster was akin to being assigned to a Soviet gulag.

But for all his quirkiness including a block-long Cadillac gas-guzzler named Marvin Pollard is darn serious about making good money and enjoying himself in basketball. He's doing that, at well over $3 million a year by now. While show horses like Dennis Rodman flash goofy getups but lead less-than-decent personal lives, Scot differentiates between wild getups and good citizenship. He's a husband, father and doggone solid college grad who still enjoys his time in Lawrence.

Equally good news is that Pollard is with a pro team that has championship potential, even with the ominous Los Angeles Lakers lurking in the background. With the supremely talented Chris Webber, Vlade Divac and a fine supporting cast, the Kings could contend a long time.

Things took a vast turn for the better when Sacramento got point guard Mike Bibby to take over for the mercurial Jason Williams. Jason, who was dropped at Florida, was sensational at times, disastrous at others with his self-serving hot-dogging. Bibby has made one big play after another this season with Sacramento. Since I love how he's improved things for the likable Pollard, I'm not as mad at him for helping beat Kansas in the 1997 NCAA meet.

Pollard, at 6-foot-11, 260 rock-solid pounds, does all sorts of vital things for Sacramento. He'll muscle and grind and pound, block and defend, finish more crippies than he used to do at Kansas and could have another 10 years or so in the NBA. You relish success for a guy like that.

KU's Raef LaFrentz was considered much more a can't-miss pro when he was drafted by Denver. But he fell in among a batch of bad talent, was asked by coach Dan Issel to do physical jobs he's not best equipped for and finally got a reprieve in the trade to the Dallas Mavericks. LaFrentz didn't have enough time to adjust for the playoffs and couldn't erupt as he'd hoped as the Kings eliminated the Mavs.

Now there's talk LaFrentz may be traded from Dallas while the Mavs fool around with that Chinese stork with a zillion contract hangups. If Raef stays in Dallas, he'll help a lot. If not, I hope he gets with another contender because he fully deserves a good chance to show his best which he hasn't been allowed to date. Time and circumstances have been kinder to Scot Pollard.

Paul Pierce wasn't pleased when the Boston Celtics picked him 10th after his junior year here but with his fat contract and key spot with the Celts, he has to be pretty happy now. Did he think Roy Williams misinformed him about his draft potential or what? When Paul stopped complaining about his "low" draft level and concentrated on the many things he does well, he became a franchise-type performer.

Not sure what to expect for Danny Manning, who has been idled by injuries in Dallas. He's been at it now since 1989 after terribly difficult knee problems and you wonder where he'll be next season. If anywhere. Hope he's happy because he's another high-class fella.

Pollard, LaFrentz, Manning, Jacque Vaughn, Pierce and Greg Ostertag were all first-round NBA choices at Kansas. Jacque is carving a niche for himself with Lon Kruger's Atlanta Hawks and Ostertag continues to take home about $6 million a year as a controversial Utah Jazz enigma.

Jayhawk standing in the NBA sure shouldn't hurt Kansas' recruiting chances. But I guess I have special appreciation for the way Scot Pollard has proved himself. For a guy some felt was on the bubble, he's a darn good testimonial to the merits of hard work and belief in himself.

Every time I look at the 2002 Kansas football schedule, I wonder how long it's been since the Jayhawks had a game that can be as pivotal as that Aug. 31 opening at Iowa State. KU desperately needs a hot shot of adrenaline; an upset there would mean so very much.

New KU football suits? Not good, not bad, but no giant Jayhawk on the helmet. Best mascot going and KU neglects to exploit it. Some don't like the darker blue shirts, something like those mineshaft blue jerseys of the Mike Gottfried era. Others think KU resembles the New York Giants. No quarrel there, except why in the dickens are there no bold-ass blue and red stripes on the pants? Too pedestrian. But so what? If the Jayhawks can win six or seven games this season, and they could, they can wear halter tops and thongs as long as they have a Jayhawk gleaming from somewhere.

Back to the NBA a moment. The pro geniuses are always looking for ticket-selling events at their annual all-star gatherings. Along with the slam-dunk and three-point showdowns, how about a daddy-kid game featuring those veterans with all the sons they've fathered while neglecting to marry the mothers? Add the daughters and there might not be enough room in the hall. Especially when the women showed up demanding their child-support checks.

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