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George Mikan

Mr. Basketball

Despite the lack of any overwhelming name recognition by today's basketball fans, Mikan is considered one of the most influential basketball players in the history of the NBA. Known as "Mr. Basketball," Mikan's dominance on the floor led to the rule change that widened the three-second lane from six to twelve feet and goaltending rules were revised. Mikan is also credited with the institution of the twenty-four-second shot clock, which was eventually put in place after the Fort Wayne Pistons (now the Detroit Pistons) stalled an entire game against the Lakers in 1950 to remove Mikan's scoring threat. Although he still managed to put in fifteen points, the Lakers lost the game 19-18, the lowest score in NBA history. As evidence of his tenacious play, during his career Mikan suffered ten broken bones and took 166 stitches.

Not only was Mikan the league's first dominating big man, he was the first player to become a major drawing card to bring fans to the NBA. His fierce competitive spirit, rough-and-ready play, and affable character made him a star attraction in every city he played. As Los Angeles Times reporter Steve Springer noted in 2001, "Mikan was 'big' before [Wilt] Chamberlain. He was the master of the hook before [Kareem] Abdul-Jabbar. He was Superman before Shaquille O'Neal, Clark Kent before Kurt Rambis. He brought winning times to the Lakers before [Magic] Johnson was born and put the NBA on the map half a century before Michael Jordan took it into the stratosphere." Perhaps the greatest tribute to Mikan's talent and influence on professional basketball came on December 13, 1949, in a game between the Lakers and the New York Knicks. The marquee over Madison Square Garden, where the game was to be played, read "GEO. MIKAN VS. KNICKS."

Mikan, who established a successful business and law practice in Minneapolis, made two other brief returns to professional basketball. During the 1957-58 season he served as the team's head coach, but after the team won only 9 of its first 39 games with Mikan at the helm, he stepped aside. When the now-defunct American Basketball Association organized in 1967, Mikan accepted an offer to become the league's first commissioner, a position he held for two years.

Career Statistics

Chicago: Chicago Gears; Minneapolis: Minneapolis Lakers.
1946-47 Chicago 25 147 119 413 16.5
1947-48 Minneapolis 56 406 383 1195 21.3
1948-49 Minneapolis 60 583 532 1698 28.3
1949-50 Minneapolis 68 649 567 1865 27.4
1950-51 Minneapolis 68 678 576 1932 28.4
1951-52 Minneapolis 64 545 433 1523 23.8
1952-53 Minneapolis 70 500 442 1442 20.6
1953-54 Minneapolis 72 441 424 1306 18.1
1954-55 Minneapolis 37 148 94 390 10.5
TOTAL 520 4097 3570 11764 22.6

Awards and Accomplishments

At the time of his retirement in 1954, Mikan was the league's all-time lead-ing scorer with 11,764 points, averaging 22.6 points per game.
1946 Named National Player of the Year
1947 National Basketball League (NBL) championship with the Chicago Gears
1947-48 Named to the All-NBL First Team
1948 NBL championship with the Minneapolis Lakers
1948 Named NBL's Most Valuable Player
1949 Basketball Association of America (BAA) championship with the Lakers
1949 Named to the All-BAA First Team
1950 National Basketball League (NBA) championship with the Lakers
1950 Named basketball's greatest player of the half-century
1950-54 Selected as an NBA All-Star
1952-54 NBA championship with the Lakers
1953 NBA All-Star Game Most Valuable Player
1959 Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
1970 Named to the NBA 25th Anniversary All-Time Team
1980 Named to the NBA 35th Anniversary All-Time Team
1996 Named to the NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team

Mikan remained in Minneapolis until the 1990s when he and his wife moved to Scottsdale, Arizona. Diagnosed with diabetes when he was 62 years old, Mikan had his right leg amputated below the knee in early 2000. A prosthesis allowed him to regain his mobility, but he must undergo dialysis treatment three times every week. In 2001 Mikan was honored at the halftime of a game between the Lakers and the Minnesota Timberwolves, and a nine-foot bronze statute was unveiled out-side the Target Center, the Timberwolves' arena. Mikan is a member of the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame and was selected as the greatest basketball player of the first half of the twentieth century.

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsBasketballGeorge Mikan - The Path To Basketball, College Ball, The First Basketball Dynasty, Chronology, Related Biography: Basketball Coach Ray Meyer - CONTACT INFORMATION