In an exclusive Throwback Thursday interview with Kings.com, the former Sacramento big man reflects on his favorite memories with the team, his on-court mentality and much more.
Renowned for playing hard-nosed defense and battling for every rebound and loose ball, Scot Pollard became an instant fan favorite from the moment he arrived in Sacramento in 1998-99.
Emerging into an invaluable reserve during his five-year tenure with the Kings, the “Bench Mob” member averaged 5.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and one block per game. In 47 career starts with Sacramento, the 6-foot-11 big man notched 8.9 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game, including a career-high 23 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks on April 16, 2002.
In addition to his on-court contributions, the Kansas product is beloved by Kings fans for his memorable hairstyles, unique fashion sense and quick wit.
During a recent trip to the River City, Pollard dished on keys to his NBA success, favorite hairstyles and more.
Which players did you enjoy to watch while growing up and after whom did you model your game?
“That’s a hard question for me to answer, because my dad played and was a legend in high school and college at Utah and all of my brothers played – I’m the youngest. I watched my family growing up and they’re all giants – they’re all bigger than me, except my dad and one of my brothers. So, I took little bits and pieces from all of them, from the footage I saw of my dad and watching my brothers to try to do things a little better than them in some areas and work as hard as them in others.
“If I was watching the NBA – which I didn’t very much when I was a little kid – I’d watch Patrick Ewing. He was the guy I tried to idolize growing up and when I could finally dunk, I’d try to dunk as hard as he could. Then, I ended up guarding him my rookie year, which was pretty special and inspiring.”
You were renowned for your hustle, ability to take charges and countless intangibles that didn’t show up in the box score. How would you describe your mindset when you stepped on-court?
“I knew what I could do, and I knew what I couldn’t do. What I could do was outwork anybody. I knew I wasn’t the best player on the team, but what I could do was hustle, and I relished that role.
“I just made sure nobody beat me to the ball, nobody beat me down the court, and I outhustled everybody. I was pretty fast for being a big guy and I could outrun most of the guys I was playing against or guarding, so that was my thing – just outhustle everybody and outwork everybody.”
Who were the toughest players you defended in your career and how did you prepare for them?
“Shaquille (O’Neal) because he was in his prime and he was unstoppable. The best thing you could do with him was play a game of attrition – you try to use your fouls wisely, you try to knock him around as much as you could, slow him down as much as you could without getting in foul trouble early.
“The other one would probably be Tim Duncan. He was another guy who was pretty much unstoppable – he still is. He has so many moves and he’s so slippery.”
You were a key member of the integral Kings “Bench Mob.” How would you describe your role and the importance of your fellow reserves to the team’s success?
“This city is about hard work. This city is about teamwork. This city is about the blue-collar mentality. So when the ‘Bench Mob’ formed, we became the darlings of the city I think because of the mentality this city has. Everybody loves a flashy play, and Chris Webber, Mike Bibby, Jason Williams and Vlade (Divac) – with his no-look passes – certainly provided those. But for the guys who were coming off the bench who didn’t have that kind of talent – myself is who I’m mostly talking about – for a city and an organization to care that much about (us) … (it was) exciting being accepted for it.”
How close were you with your Kings teammates and do you still keep in touch?
“We’re really close. We beat (teams), we had a good time, we went out to dinner afterwards and through to the next city and beat them, too.
“I haven’t seen Jon Barry in a little bit, but we keep in touch – we play golf and hang out once in a while. I just saw Mike Bibby a couple of weeks ago – just randomly, I ran into him. It’s funny because you see these guys, like Bobby (Jackson), and every time we see each other, it’s just like old days.”
What are some of your fondest memories from your time in Sacramento?
“My fondest memories of being out here are just the crowds and the adrenaline. We had more fun winning than anybody in the NBA. There wasn’t a team that had more fun than the Sacramento Kings when I was here.”
What was your typical gameday like as a player? Did you have any pre-game routines?
“I had a very unusual one. The one thing I would not do was go work out right before the game. I’d go work out early in the practice facility or in the morning, but I wouldn’t go work out right before the game because there are too many basketballs bouncing around. I’d been injured too many times, so I was superstitious about it. People thought, ‘Oh, he’s not working out before the game – he must not be trying hard.’ It was just because I wanted to avoid injury so I could play in the game.”
Fans have seen you sport various hairstyles and facial features. Do you have a personal favorite?
“One of my favorites was the mohawk, just because I think I started it. I don’t recall anybody having a mohawks before I did, and now there are mohawks all over the League. I’m not taking credit for it, but I’m just saying.
“I miss my long hair – I liked having the ponytails and I think it’s what I mostly wore out here. I liked the spiky blond look, but that was really ‘90s and I kind of carried that into the 2000s a little bit too long. I’m glad I got rid of that, but it was cool when I did it.”
How much did it mean to you to win a title with the Boston Celtics during your final NBA season in 2007-08?
“It means lot to me. Paul Pierce won me a title, actually, but it was a longtime coming. I’ve had an amazing career, as far as the teams I was on. Starting with my freshman year of high school, all four years of college, with the exception of my rookie year in the NBA, the next 10 years I played in the postseason on every team I was on. For me to be that lucky, to be that fortunate to be on so many good teams for every year of my career except for one – I learned how to win a lot – I learned how to do things the right way.
“In addition, not one of those teams won it all. So finally my last team, even though I got hurt and I couldn’t play anymore, I got that ring. I wear that ring for all the teams I was on – dating back to high school – that should’ve won a title. (We) should’ve won State, should’ve won the NCAA Championship, should’ve won an NBA championship here in Sacramento, maybe in Indiana one year, maybe in Cleveland (when) I went to the Finals with them.”
What are your impressions of the current Kings squad?
“I haven’t watched them enough to make a fair judgment … (but) I think DeMarcus (Cousins) is a supremely talented young man and I hope he continues to (improve).
“Hopefully, the Kings get back to the Playoffs and get back to their winning ways again.”