Wilt Chamberlain had a running spat with the head statistician of the Sixers: “He was always whining about how many rebounds he had.”

Wilt would have even more rebounding stats if he had his way.

 

Basketball players, such as the legendary Wilt Chamberlain, take statistics very seriously. They are an essential component of the game.

 

With almost 24,000 boards, the Hall of Famer owns the record for most rebounding in league history. But according to “The Big Dipper,” this figure ought to have been far greater. Throughout Wilt’s tenure with the team, this viewpoint periodically caused conflicts with Harvey Pollack, the head statistician for the 76ers.

Basketball players, such as the legendary Wilt Chamberlain, take statistics very seriously. They are an essential component of the game.

 

With almost 24,000 boards, the Hall of Famer owns the record for most rebounding in league history. But according to “The Big Dipper,” this figure ought to have been far greater. Throughout Wilt’s tenure with the team, this viewpoint periodically caused conflicts with Harvey Pollack, the head statistician for the 76ers.

 

“Wilt used to come here to play and would constantly complain about how many rebounds he had. Wilt thought I would undervalue him, so after one home game, he had a friend keep track of his rebounds. Pollack was mentioned in the book “Perfectly Awful: The Philadelphia 76ers’ Horrible and Hilarious 1972-1973 Season.”

 

Box score for beef

The NBA has tracked fundamental statistics since its founding in the 1949–50 season, and these have grown dramatically over time. To capture these metrics, a statistician usually needs to be present at every home game. It was Pollack’s job to handle this during Chamberlain’s Sixers career. Pollack joined the team in 1946 and became director of statistical information in 1963. As necessary, Pollack addressed his work with impartiality and diligence, but Wilt felt his commitment to the latter may have been overly severe.

Tension was unavoidable, of course. ‘The Big Dipper,’ for example, insisted on 19 boards, although Harvey wrote down 15 in one game. The opposing center, Dale Schlueter, was given credit for 17 rebounds, which only made matters worse. As a local player, Chamberlain thought there were five extra rebounds, and he thought this was wrong. The four-time MVP later on was so incensed that he even thought about complaining to the NBA management.

 

They were both trailblazers.

Pollack had reached his breaking point when ‘Wilt the Stilt’ even brought his own statistician. Harvey, therefore, rapidly adjusted his strategy. Following a competition, he asked the All-Star to submit his own guy’s unofficial statistics or the official ones he had totaled himself. Wilt, in a twist of ‘be cautious what you wish for’, decided to accept the latter

 

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“He selected his friend’s, who had perhaps seven rebounds fewer than what I had monitored. After that, you’d think he would have learned his lesson,” Pollack recalled.

 

Without a doubt, Chamberlain kept the statistician occupied not just with their confrontations but also with his illustrious 100-point performance, which Pollack subsequently referred to as the “busiest night of my career.” It’s interesting to note that Harvey was also the creator of the well-known sign Wilt later carried.

 

In the field of statistical analysis, Pollack made just as much progress as Wilt did, shattering numerous records and paving the way for the NBA. In addition to being the first to distinguish between offensive and defensive rebounds, he was also in charge of several other numbers that are currently formally tracked by the NBA, such as blocked shots. In fact, he is credited by some with creating the phrase “triple-double.”

 

Pollack was the final employee from the NBA’s original season, and he passed away in 2015 at the age of 93, ending an era.

 

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