Throwback Video Thursday: Scot Pollard
March 15, 2012
Throwback Thursday Scot Pollard (1993-97)
Pollard is widely known to be one of the most colorful personalities to ever don a Kansas basketball uniform. The San Diego, Calif. native arrived in Lawrence during the fall of 1993 and quickly became a fan favorite. Number 31 led the Jayhawks to four straight sweet sixteen appearances, including a 34-2 campaign, during his senior season of 1996-97. Pollard went onto play in the NBA for 11 seasons, with five different teams, including the Boston Celtics, who he won an NBA Championship with in 2008, alongside fellow Jayhawk Paul Pierce. Since his retirement in ’08, Pollard has moved back to the place he once called home, and now is a fixture in Lawrence, calling KU games for Channel 6 and appearing on KLWN’s Rock Chalk Sports Talk.
What has the transition been like going from player to broadcaster?
“I first started broadcasting toward the end of my NBA, when I was hurt because some teams would let me do a broadcast. I also used to do radio and TV shows in some cities, like in Boston I did Planet Pollard with the Celtics NOW program. I have always enjoyed being in front of the camera, so that part was easy. The mental part of going from player to media person is the biggest transition and it is one that I am still going through. As I broadcasted the Missouri game (Feb. 25), I lost it at the end. I was completely unprofessional because the athlete just took over and I was so excited to be in the building and so excited to be a part of that game. I am sure the commentary at the end of the game was not exactly objective and was a little bit biased toward those Jayhawks.”
You had a lot of success here at KU, helping the Jayhawks reach four straight sweet sixteen’s, is there any specific year or team during that stretch that stands out as more significant than the rest?
“Since I have moved back to Lawrence, I have heard that a lot of people consider my senior year team (1997) to be the greatest team to ever play at KU, even though we didn’t win a championship. That feels good because I have always said the proof is in the pudding. We didn’t get a ring, so I can’t say that we were the best team that ever played here, but it does feel good to be a part of a team that had four first round draft picks that played ten years plus in the NBA.”
What is your favorite part of game day at Allen Fieldhouse? And has it changed now that you are courtside instead of on the court?
“Running out of the tunnel is an amazing thing, there is nothing like it in the world. When you do there are 16-thousand people who are cheering you on, that is a big deal. That is why athletes want to rock stars and rock stars want to be athletes because you get used to that adrenaline and you become addicted to it. As a Jayhawk it is a special thing because you are coming out of that tunnel as a part of that tradition and excellence and you know the other team is watching the video board or listening to the crowd. Whether they are intimated or astonished, you know that the opposing team is thinking it is not like this for us at home.”
You are here at most of the KU home games and see that pre-game introduction video, what does it mean to you to know you are a part of that proud tradition?
“Kansas basketball has been great for many, many years. I am one of those people, who when I came here I didn’t understand. I was from San Diego and I was not aware of the tradition and did not know about the Border War. As I grew here and became a man, I learned about that and realized that I was just one of those people who were blessed to be able to be a part of it and help transition it to the next guy behind me, so they could understand the tradition and weight that is on their shoulders when they put that jersey on. It says ‘Kansas’ on the front of that jersey and that is something that is special because it is not like putting on a uniform from another college. You are carrying on a tradition that started with the inventor of the game and not many people can say you have played at a school, where the inventor of the game was their first head coach.”
Which game or games stand out more so than the rest during your KU career?
“It was my sophomore year at Missouri (Jan. 9, 1995), I had my career high in points, but it wasn’t because I had my career high. Instead it was that I played really well against other guys who were projected to be NBA players. That may have been when people first started talking about me in the NBA, because until my senior year I did not think I was going to be good enough or tough enough to be a professional player. So in that sophomore year Missouri game, I played very well against big guys including the Haley twins (Samuel and Simeon), Derek Grimm and Jason Sutherland.”
“That game and against Iowa State my senior year I played pretty well on an ankle that was not supposed to be played on. If I had to look back at my career, that ISU game was one that kind of typified Scot Pollard, because I was always in the mix and getting dinged up. The doctor told me that he did not recommend that I play, and I just said, ‘Well it’s my senior year and we are supposed to win this whole thing… I am going to play’. I played pretty well, but it ended up being a bad move because I broke my foot after that and I actually had to sit out for a little while and missed the Missouri game, which was our first loss of the season.”
After graduating, you went onto play professionally in the NBA, what was it like carrying the title of Jayhawk in the NBA?
“Being a Jayhawk in the NBA is a little different than guys who have played for other schools because there is not that tradition with other schools that there is with Kansas. When I played with or against Jayhawks in the NBA, we always came over to say hi whether we played together or not and said Rock Chalk! And that is something that you would not always see because you might have two guys from a school like UCLA on opposing ends of the court or on the same team and there was no bond there. That is something I have seen time and again during my NBA career, where a lot of guys really don’t care about their alma maters and feel that it was just where I went before I got here because I couldn’t go straight to here (the NBA) from high school.”
You own a championship ring, courtesy of the 2008 Boston Celtics, what did it mean to you, too not only win it, but to win it with a fellow Jayhawk in Paul Pierce?
“When I first signed in Boston (in 2007), it was like old times again because we were messing with each other in the locker room and that kind of stuff. As the season wore on though, I had an injury and I had to get surgery, so I became more of a cheerleader, and it made me feel good to know that when we got to the NBA Finals, our Jayhawk Paul Pierce got Finals MVP and carried his team to an NBA Championship. I was able to bask in the light of a fellow Jayhawk and former college teammate that has shined on the brightest of stages. To be able to say that I played with Paul Pierce in college and the pros is a very special thing and gives me credibility.”
Speaking of #34, you recently suited up with him again in Allen Fieldhouse at the ‘Legends of the Phog’ game last September. How was that experience, being surrounded by all those former KU greats?
“Even though I am far from being a legend, I was asked to play in that and I said absolutely even if it would be for five minutes. Running out of that tunnel again with 16-thousand strong was one of the greatest basketball moments in my life. I have done a lot of things and have had a lot of great moments on basketball courts, but that was special. We were all in the locker room before the game thinking, ‘Are you kidding me? Look at this! This is unbelievable!’ Everyone single one of us were just so impressed that this amount of people showed up for a charity game.”
Do you remember where you were and what you were doing when the Jayhawks won the NCAA title in 2008?
“It’s a good thing I am retired from the NBA, because this story shouldn’t be told, but I am going to tell it anyway. I had surgery on my ankle and the Celtics’ trainer said we don’t want you traveling because you will swell up, so we want you to stay here and do rehab. So I said, ‘Well my college team is in the Final Four this weekend, I’m going to go watch them because if I can’t go with the Celtics, I will go there.’ The trainer said, ‘I didn’t hear that’, so I flew to San Antonio from Boston and went to the Final Four. I was able to see the North Carolina game and then I saw the National Championship game in person. I shouldn’t have been there because I should have been in Boston rehabbing my ankle but my justification was that I was out for the year anyway, so what’s a couple days of swelling up to go see my Jayhawks in the National Championship and boy was it worth it. Also, a lot of my former teammates were there and we were just so excited because my team was one of the ones that fell short of that goal. Everybody picked us to be national champions and we weren’t, so I went up to Coach Self after the game and told him that he had just won a national championship for us.”
You are known as one of the most colorful personalities to ever put on a KU uniform, what makes Scot Pollard, Scot Pollard?
“I think what makes me, me is that I always try to learn from people and in that way I guess I have kind of assimilated other people’s experiences and personalities into my personality. I see something that I like and I bring it into my life. I think that is why some people perceive me as some crazy guy because I am not afraid to try things, it just is in the mind frame of I want to learn about it and see if it fits. There is that public persona that is much crazier than I really am. I am not saying I’m not a little different but I am a father of three and I just want to make sure that my kids experience life and not be afraid to try something different. I guess that is what makes me, me, is that I am not afraid to try something a little different, whether it be a new look for my face or my hair because I am going to learn whether I like it or not. All the different experiences I have had around the country, the people I have played with, those I have made friends with around the world, I have taken their personalities and learned something from them. Really I just want all of us to get along, like the old phrase goes, ‘Can’t we all just get along?’
Pollard’s Official Website: http://planetpollard.com/
Throwback Thursday Archive: http://www.kuathletics.com/throwbackthursday.html