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George Yardley

For the Scottish footballer, see George Yardley (footballer).
George Yardley
File:George Yardley 1958.jpeg
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
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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
Pro career 1953–1962
Position Forward / Guard
Number 12
Career history
19531959 Fort Wayne Pistons/Detroit Pistons
1959–1960 Syracuse Nationals
1961–1962 Los Angeles Jets (ABL)
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 Hall of Fame as player

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

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

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

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.


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