George Yardley

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George Yardley
George Yardley 1958.jpeg
Yardley in 1958
Personal information
Born (1928-11-03)November 3, 1928
Hollywood, California
Died August 13, 2004(2004-08-13) (aged 75)
Newport Beach, California
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Listed weight 190 lb (86 kg)
Career information
High school Newport Harbor
(Newport Beach, California)
College Stanford (1947–1950)
NBA draft 1950 / Round: 1 / Pick: 7th overall
Selected by the Fort Wayne Pistons
Playing career 1953–1962
Position Forward / Guard
Number 12
Career history
19531959 Fort Wayne / Detroit Pistons
1959–1960 Syracuse Nationals
1961–1962 Los Angeles Jets
Career highlights and awards
Career statistics
Points 9,063 (19.2 ppg)
Rebounds 4,220 (8.9 rpg)
Assists 815 (1.7 apg)
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com
Basketball Hall of Fame as player
College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2006

George Harry Yardley III (November 3, 1928 – August 13, 2004) was an American basketball player. He was the first player in NBA history to score 2,000 points in one season, breaking the 1,932-point record held by George Mikan. Yardley was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996.

Early life[edit]

A two-time All-American at Stanford University, Yardley was a member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, and earned the nickname "Yardbird" due to the chores he was required to complete by his fraternity brothers.[1] The nickname was later shortened to "Bird". After his three-year career at Stanford, Yardley played one year of AAU basketball and served in the United States Navy for two years. During his navy stint, Yardley's amateur team won the national A.A.U. championship in 1951, with Yardley being selected the national amateur player-of-the-year. He was drafted by the NBA Fort Wayne Pistons in 1950.

NBA career[edit]

At 6'5", Yardley was a good-sized forward in 1950s basketball and was described as "an offensive-minded player with a knack for scoring" in his Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame biography.[1]

Described as a "flamboyant"[1] and "gregarious" player who "never did anything without flair",[2] Yardley had a stellar 7-year career, making the NBA All-Star team every year except for his rookie season. He led the Fort Wayne Pistons to two NBA Finals before the team moved to Detroit in 1957. In '57–58, the Pistons' first year in Detroit, Yardley led the league in scoring, averaging 27.8 points per game, and tallied 2001 points, just enough to make him the first NBA player to score 2000 points in a season. That year, Yardley also set NBA records for most free throws attempted (808) and most free throws made (655), and was named to the All-NBA First Team for the only time in his career.

Following a sixth All-Star season in 1959–1960, in which he averaged 20.2 points per game, George Yardley retired from basketball at the age of 31. He was the first player in NBA history to retire after averaging at least 20 PPG in his final year. Although Alex Groza had a 21.7 PPG average in his final NBA season in 1951, his career ended as a result of a lifelong ban, instead of a voluntary retirement like that of Yardley's. He made a brief comeback in the short-lived American Basketball League with the Los Angeles Jets in 1961–62.

Post-basketball career[edit]

Making use of his engineering degree from Stanford, Yardley started his own engineering company in California following his retirement from the NBA. In 1996, Yardley was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player.

In a touching tribute to Yardley, Pete Newell later said "George Yardley embodies what the Hall of Fame is all about. A marvelous athlete who made full use of his natural talents, a demeanor on the court a coach admires, and a life off the court and after his basketball career ended that has been very successful."[3]

Yardley died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, at the age of 75.

NBA career statistics[edit]

Legend
  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high
*Led the league

Regular season[edit]

Year Team GP MPG FG% FT% RPG APG PPG
1953–54 Fort Wayne 63 23.6 .425 .712 6.5 1.6 9.0
1954–55 Fort Wayne 60 35.8 .418 .745 9.9 2.1 17.3
1955–56 Fort Wayne 71 33.1 .407 .742 9.7 2.2 17.4
1956–57 Fort Wayne 72 37.4 .410 .787 10.5 2.0 21.5
1957–58 Detroit 72 39.5 .414 .811 10.7 1.3 27.8*
1958–59 Detroit 46 30.8 .415 .816 7.1 0.9 20.8
1958–59 Syracuse 15 28.0 .482 .648 6.9 1.7 16.7
1959–60 Syracuse 73 32.9 .453 .816 7.9 1.7 20.2
Career 472 33.4 .422 .780 8.9 1.7 19.2
All-Star 6 21.8 .433 .706 5.8 0.7 10.7

Playoffs[edit]

Year Team GP MPG FG% FT% RPG APG PPG
1954 Fort Wayne 4 26.8 .485 .833 6.0 0.8 10.5
1955 Fort Wayne 11 38.2 .399 .759 9.0 3.3 15.8
1956 Fort Wayne 10 40.6 .421 .776 13.9 2.6 23.0
1957 Fort Wayne 2 42.5 .453 .818 9.5 4.0 28.5
1958 Detroit 7 36.3 .409 .896 10.3 2.4 23.4
1959 Syracuse 9 37.0 .439 .857 9.7 2.3 25.1
1960 Syracuse 3 29.3 .385 .833 5.7 0.3 13.3
Career 46 36.8 .422 .817 9.9 2.4 20.3

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-06-04. Retrieved 2011-04-24. 
  2. ^ [1] Archived October 30, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ [2] Archived October 30, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]