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153. Jim Pollard


Back in a time where dunking was seen as an insult and players would intentionally try to hurt the dunker., Jim Pollard would become one of the first players ever to dunk the basketball. Many claimed he could dunk from the free throw line which earned him the name the Kangaroo Kid.

Pollard was a member of the 1942 Stanford Cardinalís team which won the National Championship. Following his college days he joined the US Coast Guard during World War II. Following WWII he began playing again, first with the San Diego Dons than the Oakland Bittners.

In 1947 Pollard joined the Minneapolis Lakers of the National Basketball League, the next year the team joined the Basketball Association of America. Joining the Lakers paired Pollard with basketball superstar George Mikan. Together along with Vern Mikkleson they would form a triumvirate of a front court that could still be considered the best in NBA history. The trio won six championships together and formed the first basketball dynasty. They also lead to Lakers to becoming the only team in American pro-sports history to win three consecutive championships in three consecutive leagues when they won the 1948 NBL title, the 1949 BAA title and the 1950 NBA title.

In 1952 players who had played in the NBL and BAA voted Pollard the best player of the era.

The NBL and BAA competed against each other originally but many teams kept jumping from the long established NBL to join the up and coming BAA, this included Pollardís Lakers, and the two leagues met in 1949 and decided to combine into the NBA. Having big names like Pollard and Mikan helped both leagues establish some legitimacy against rival leagues like the CBA.

In 1951 Pollard was named to the all-star team, his first of 4 selections to the team. Starting in 1952 and lasting until 1953 Pollard and the Lakers won 3 more NBA championships becoming the first three-peat champions in NBA history and raising their total number of championships to six.

Pollard retired in 1955 amassing career totals of 13 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists in 438 career games. Following his retirement he went into coaching, first at LaSalle University, than in 1959 he coached the Lakers in their final season in Minneapolis. In 1961 he became the first coach of the Chicago Packers, but lasted only one season. In 1967 he began the first coach for the Minnesota Muskies, and remained the coach of the team when it relocated the following season to Miami and became the Miami Floridians. He was fired half way through the 69-70 season. He spent two more seasons coaching at Florida Atlantic University before retiring from coaching in 1972. In 1978 he was inducted into the pro-basketball hall-of-fame. Pollard would die in 1993 at age 70.

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