PHILADELPHIA -- Hundreds of mourners packed a Philadelphia funeral home Friday to honor Harvey Pollack, the longtime NBA employee and statistics icon who died Tuesday at the age of 93.
Friends, family and colleagues described a man who loved basketball, statistics and, most of all, his family. Pollack began his career in 1946 with the Philadelphia Warriors and worked the past 28 years as the 76ers' director of statistical information.
Among the six people who eulogized Pollack was Hall of Famer Julius Erving.
"Iconic is sometimes overused or overstated, but in this instance I think it is appropriate," Erving said in describing Pollack.
Erving went on to read the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling as a tribute to Pollack.
Pollack was the last original employee of the NBA's inaugural season still working in the league. He was courtside on March 6, 1962, when Warriors center Wilt Chamberlain scored a record 100 points against the New York Knicks. After the game, Pollack wrote "100" on a piece of paper and gave it to Chamberlain to hold for the famous black-and-white photograph.
Known as the "Super Stat," Pollack was widely considered the engineer of modern basketball statistics. He was credited with beginning the league's official tracking of many statistics, including offensive and defensive rebounds, steals, turnovers, blocked shots and minutes played. He also coined the term triple-double.
Commissioner Adam Silver paid tribute to Pollack's contributions to the league Thursday night before the 76ers' first-round pick in the NBA draft.
On Friday, his great impact on the game was noted along with his greatest impact on people.
"You can argue whether the world is a better place because of the triple-double, but for those fortunate to have called him a friend, our worlds are better," said Mike Sullivan, who worked alongside Pollack at 76ers games.
Besides Sullivan and Erving, also eulogizing Pollack were noted Philadelphia basketball personality Sonny Hill; Laura Price, who worked with Pollack for 19 years with the 76ers; his granddaughter, Allison; and his son, Ron.
The mourners paying their respects to Pollack and his family were a who's who of Philadelphia basketball, including 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie and coach Brett Brown. Former coach Billy Cunningham and player World B. Free were there, as were many current and former team employees. Also present were many Philadelphia media members.
Temple coach Fran Dunphy also attended and fondly recalled Pollack.
"There was a uniqueness," Dunphy said. "He was such a good man, such a wonderful guy."
Besides 76ers games, Pollack headed stat crews at six major Philadelphia-area colleges and was Temple's football statistician for more than 60 years. He also spent time in charge of the stats crew for the Philadelphia Wings of the Major Indoor Lacrosse League and the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League.
"You knew when his crew was on, they were going to get everything right," Dunphy said. "He's a stat savant."