George H. Yardley
Teammates and counterparts described the flamboyant George Yardley as a "scoring machine," and a player who needed constant defensive attention. Called "Yardbird" at Stanford by his fraternity brothers, the name was later shortened to "Bird." The game's first real "bird" was a clutch playoff performer as well, averaging 20.3 ppg in 46 playoff games. Yardley's fruitful seven-year professional career saw him appear in six All-Star Games and average nearly 20 points per game (9,063 points, 19.2 ppg). The 6-foot-5 springy-legged, jump-shooting forward played for Fort Wayne, Detroit, and Syracuse. His Fort Wayne teams twice reached the NBA Finals, losing in the 1955 Finals to Syracuse in seven games. Yardley's most significant accomplishment, however, occurred in the 1957-58 season, when he became the first player in NBA history to score 2,000 points in one season (2,001), breaking the 1,932-point record held by George Mikan.