To Pollard, image is everything, and nothing
Jayhawk: Sacramento Kings center is more grounded and, uh, normal than he
The first thing you need to know about Sacramento Kings backup center Scot Pollard is this: He's not as weird as he looks. He's not a freak, not a madman, not even a rebel, at least not in the traditional sense.
He did fastbreak away from
his family's religion -- the Mormon faith -- when he left home to go play ball
at the University of Kansas. And he did get into trouble as a teen-ager, after
moving from Murray, Utah, with his family to Del Mar, Calif., when he was 11,
stumbling from petty mischief to grand theft, winding up doing some 500 hours of
community service to pay his debt and reform his ways. He did paint his toenails
He's not bad, nor does he
want to be bad.
It's all a facade.
Pollard is known in the
NBA for his clever and colorful observations. Just the other day at practice,
between Game 1 and Game 2 of the Utah Jazz-Kings first-round playoff series,
reporters clumped around the 6-foot-11 quote machine, despite his lack of any
kind of meaningful contribution in the previous game.
From there, he happily
pontificated on any number of subjects, framed by his need to defend and rebound
better on one side to his depths of interest in studying the lives of historical
figures, such as Lincoln and Adolf Hitler on the other.
Later, when asked about
Jazz center Greg Ostertag's surprising performance in the first game, Pollard
said of his former college teammate: "I know what happened to Greg. It's
not like he did a lot of soul searching and decided to come to play. No. It's
because (Jazz coach) Jerry Sloan kicked him in the ass."
Some of Pollard's answers
were forthright and frank, especially those regarding the basics of playoff
basketball. Some of them were silly, as though he was just pulling stuff out of
the air as he went along, hoping for a reaction. Some were nothing short of
opaque, especially those regarding more personal subjects.
• Fan Favorite: After
being drafted by Detroit and later released, he has spent the past three seasons
in Sacramento, having successfully shaped a space for himself with the Kings as
Vlade Divac's backup -- a standard, unspectacular role. On the whole, he has
played effectively, banging under the boards, playing defense and improving.
But, on account of his often outrageous appearance and his sense of humor and
his ability and willingness to say things a certain way, Pollard has become a
favorite with fans and reporters, too.
He stands, if not in the
spotlight, squarely at center stage in Sacramento.
introvert," he says. "People think they know a lot about me. They
think I want all this attention, that I'm wild and a partier. But I'm not. I
don't like being recognized. I don't want or need attention for my ego. Eighty
percent of what is most important to me is my wife and my child. People think my
life is like an open book, but, to be honest, I rarely give a straight answer to
anything. I'm comfortable being what I am, what my mom and dad raised me to
Pollard once told the
Sacramento Bee, when asked to reveal his real self, that he didn't know how to
answer the question: "I don't know if there is a real me. I'm an actor.
F--- it. I've got no personality. I change all the time. My appearance changes a
lot and my personality changes a lot. I'm happy a lot, most of the times, and
sometimes you can't talk to me." Even Pollard's wife, Mindy,
calls him Jekyll and Hyde.
Even Pollard's wife, Mindy, calls him Jekyll and Hyde.
Through his childhood,
even in college, Pollard disliked school. But he studied education at Kansas
with the intention of becoming a teacher. Unlike his four brothers -- Alan,
Carl, Mark and Neal, all over or near 7-foot in height and decently talented --
Scot says he didn't engage fully in basketball, did not work hard at the game,
until after his father, Pearl, a star Utah prep and college player, died when
Scot was in high school. Still, of the boys, he is the one who made it to the
NBA and stuck.
Pollard now takes pleasure
in his full-blown work ethic and his passionate play.
"I love taking care
of my family," he says. "It's one of the most important things to me,
along with having fun, but not at the expense of others, and treating people
• Family Ties: The
family angle is compelling, in part because Pollard, the youngest child, is the
only one of the five reared by parents Pearl and Marlyn -- they have a grown
daughter named Lyne, too -- who walked away from the LDS faith. He attended
church as a youth, but bailed quickly once on his own.
"As soon as I got out
of the house, I wanted to do my own thing," Pollard has said. "I told
my dad before he died that I wasn't going on a (church) mission. I said, 'Dad,
it's not my thing. I'm not going to be a Mormon. As soon as I don't have to go
to church anymore, I'm not going to go.'"
"Part of the reason I
think the way I do about my wife and daughter is because of my family being in
that religion," he says. "There's no doubt, it's a part of who I
"I try to live my
life like a child," he says. "I like to look at the things around me
as though they are new. Even just driving to the arena, I appreciate the wind
and other things. Whatever the world has to offer. I'm a pessimist by nature,
but I'm happy. I'm pleasantly surprised when things aren't as bad as I thought
they were going to be. I have a zest for life. I enjoy taking breaths every day.
I'm grounded. I know what I want."
"He's a fun guy, a
great guy, he makes my job on the court easier," says Divac. "But, no,
he does not know who he is, and that's the problem."
• Here's a third and
final thing about Scot Pollard, the basketball player with the ever-funky look
and the supposedly inward and surprisingly down-to-earth outlook: He's glad
"I'm lucky because
I'm happy," he says. "That's pretty good for me. I lead a charmed