In the early 2018 I talked with former Sacramento Kings center, 2008 NBA champion, Scot Pollard. We discussed his time in Sacramento and playing for the Kings.
Beginnings in Sacramento
You joined the Kings in 1998. How did you feel with a role of a reserve player?
My first season was the lockout year of 1999, it was spring when I got there. I was already there for the second half of the lockout season and I actually played pretty well, and I played in the playoffs with the Kings. We lost to the Utah Jazz in the first round. But anyway, for the whole time I was with the Kings, I was a backup for Vlade and Chris. When Chris was injured, I would start most of the time when Chris was out with injury. I was just happy to be in the NBA and I was my whole career.
I didn’t mind coming off the bench whether it was for Vlade or Chris, whoever, and I felt like that was a great role for me there, for that team. Especially playing behind Vlade and Chris. I learned a lot from those guys, they were great teammates, and I learned a lot from Vlade’s leadership and incorporated that into some of my leadership as I got to be better player later in my career.
“The Greatest Show on the Court”
Many people say that 2000s Kings were one of the most unselfish team of all-time. Do you agree with this?
Yes, absolutely. We played basketball the way was meant to be played. A team game, people didn’t care about shots, people didn’t care about how many touches they got, because they knew they were going to get them. Because we moved the ball so much and the ball didn’t hit the ground a lot, because it was being passed to teammates and nobody was trying to figure out how much air pressure was in the ball. It’s a common expression here. You try to check the air pressure – just pass the ball, stop dribbling.
That was exciting to watch, it was fun to play and I know we got great following not only in the NBA circles but there were a lot of teams that weren’t very good, we’d go to their gym and make it a home court situation. Because the home crowd wasn’t very good, because their team wasn’t good, so they’d come to watch us, and we had a home court advantage in a lot of other people’s arenas.
How did you feel in the coaching system of Rick Adelman?
Rick was a great coach for us at that time. That team needed a lot of freedom and Rick Adelman was the right coach for that team to give us that freedom. He trusted his point guards; and he trusted his big men. He trusted everybody on the team to make plays, and the one thing I’d never did, that he kept telling me to do, was shoot the ball more, because he knew I was capable of it.
My response was always: “Hey, Rick, I am playing with Peja Stojakovic, Hedo, Doug Christie and Mike Bibby and Jason Williams.” You know, I would like to list all of the shooters I played with and I said that the best thing I can do is get them open by knocking their guy down with a good, hard screen and then go get the rebound if they miss. So, Rick was a great coach for that team.
Jason Williams and Mike Bibby
Who was a better point guard in your opinion: Jason Williams or Mike Bibby?
They were both amazing teammates in different ways. Jason Williams was a magician with the basketball. The things that people saw in games were about 8 out of 10. In practice, when there was no referees, we would see the 10 out of 10 Jason Williams. Sometimes it was a carry, or sometimes it was a double dribble or a travelling or whatever because he was just pushing the limits in practice so that in games he could tone it down a little bit and still do so many amazing things with the basketball. It was just a fun to play with Jason Williams because you always had to be ready. You didn’t know what he is gonna be able to pull out of his magic trick box for the next game.
And then Mike Bibby was the right point guard because he hit big shots for us when other players couldn’t or didn’t. Mike wasn’t scared to take that big shot and he hit them a lot of times. They were both great for that team, in different ways. Jason got us to the playoffs and Mike Bibby when he got there, took us deeper in the playoffs and was the right point guard. So, they were both amazing point guards, I am not going to say which one was better because they were both awesome in their way for our team.
Kings vs Lakers
What do you think about the 2002 WCF?
Yeah, there is a lot of controversy. But the bottom line is as bad as you think Game 6 was, or fixed, whatever, we had Game 7 and we crapped the bed. That series ultimately, we lost it, because we went home and we didn’t recover and we lost Game 7 at home, which is why we had the best record in the league, we had home court advantage, that’s what you are supposed to do. Take advantage of home court advantage and we didn’t. We still had Game 7 and we lost it, so it doesn’t matter what happened in Game 6 ultimately, because we lost Game 7. Nobody took that away from us, so whatever you think about the Game 6 it doesn’t matter, because we still had home court advantage and we didn’t take advantage of it.
What is your highlight moment from your years in Sacramento?
All of it. I loved being there, I loved living there, I loved being part of that franchise. It broke my heart when they traded me. I had a broken back, I healed back and came back from and as soon as I was healthy, they traded me, so that hurt. But you know, I understand it’s a business, but I loved every minute of playing in the Sacramento, that’s where I wanted to play the rest of my career, I didn’t want to go anywhere else. When I was a free agent, I resigned with Sacramento and showed them my loyalty but, you know, it’s a business, they traded me when they could. What happened, happened.