George H. Yardley

Teammates and counterparts described the flamboyant George Yardley as a “scoring machine” and a player who needed constant attention by the defense. Called “Yardbird” at Stanford by his fraternity brothers, the name was later shortened to “Bird” and stuck with him the rest of his life. After a standout career at Stanford, Yardley played for the AAU Stewart Chevrolets out of San Francisco and then Los Alamitos Naval Air Station before he turned pro. Yardley’s professional career included six All Star games in only seven seasons. The game’s first real “bird” was a clutch playoff performer as well, averaging 20.3 points per game in 46 playoff appearances. The 6’5” springy-legged, jump-shooting forward played for Fort Wayne, Detroit, and Syracuse. His Fort Wayne teams reached the NBA Finals in 1955 and 1956. 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.