George Yardley 2021

George Yardley, 2021

Born in Hollywood, Yardley was an All-CIF player at Newport Harbor HS before becoming a two-time All-American at Stanford in 1949 and 1950 and also an AAU All-American. Yardley was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996 and was part of the first College Basketball HOF class in 2006. Yardley was a dominating NBA player in his 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. Yardley led the league in scoring, averaging 27.8 points per game in his first year in Detroit, and tallied 2001 points, just enough to make him the first NBA player to score 2000 points in a season, breaking the 1,932-point record held by George Mikan.

That year, Yardley also set NBA records for most free throws attempted (808) and 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, the 6-5 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. Later he came out of retirement to play one-year for Bill Sharman, who was coaching the Los Angeles Jets of the American Basketball League. He passed away in 2004 at the age of 75.