After falling one series short with the Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers, Scot Pollard has made it to the NBA finals, and his mane is not even the one getting the most attention.
Cleveland Cavaliers teammate Drew Gooden, who arrived at Kansas University when Pollard was in his third NBA season, these days sports one large patch at the back of his neck on an otherwise bald dome. How can we put this diplomatically? It looks ridiculous.
"I'm not a big fan of it," Pollard said by phone from San Antonio, where the Cavs open Game 1 of the NBA finals tonight. "That's Drew. I'm sure I've had a few hairstyles some people didn't like."
It's not a question men often ask of other men, but what the heck: Who did your hair when you were playing basketball for Kansas, Scot?
"Mostly my girlfriend, Mindy, who is now my wife," Pollard said. "She still trims it up for me so I don't look like a caveman, and it's hard for me not to look like a caveman. When the series is over I'll go to a salon. I used to go to a barber. Now I go to a stylist. That's what money does for you. I used to be crazy, now it's eccentric. Dennis Hopper said that in 'Speed.'"
Gooden's neck patch and Pollard's hair history have led some to wonder.
"We joke about it," Pollard said. "Something happens in your brain when you go from California to Kansas for college. It makes you weird. It makes you try different hairstyles."
Gooden and Pollard have distinctly different roles for the Cavs. Pollard has played two minutes this postseason. Gooden starts at power forward. He averaged 11.1 points and 7.9 rebounds in 80 games. In Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, Gooden had 19 points and eight rebounds.
It's difficult to get noticed playing on the same team as LeBron James, the league's hottest player.
"He still gives you a double-double," Pollard said, noting it doesn't really matter how much recognition Gooden gets.
Gooden will start the series on three-time NBA finals MVP Tim Duncan, Mr. Fundamental.
"We'll put LeBron on him a little while, too," Pollard said. "We're going to switch it up, just so he doesn't have the same look all the time."
Regardless of which team wins this compelling series, at least one former Jayhawks player will get a ring.
Jacque Vaughn has played 50 minutes during the postseason for the Spurs, time enough to pick up 10 assists against one turnover.
From a national perspective, the series isn't about either the three former KU players or the three-time finals MVP. It's about No. 23, the man marketed as the Michael Jordan of his generation. King James.
Pollard said James is a good teammate.
"LeBron is working into being a leader of the team," Pollard said. "It's tough for a kid who comes into the league at 18 to be a leader. Now that he's been here four years, he's still young, but he has a lot of experience. You want your best player to be your leader. That's when it works best. He's been here long enough, so it's easier for us older guys to take when he says something. We listen to him, even though he's only 22 years old."
Pollard's worth a listen, not because he's 32, because he's entertaining.