Kings' Pollard proof hard work pays

Saturday, 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.