The NBA has bestowed on us many notable talents. MJ, Wilt,Kareem, Bird, Magic and George.
Wait, what??? GEORGE???
Contemplate about how you visualize a NBA player today to appear? Who’s the greatest in the game today? James, Kobe, Wade, Carmelo?? Since the creation of the game, George Mikan was that guy. Let me tell you he wasn’t a heavily muscled, eye-catching, swagged out, inked up cat like players of today.
Mikan was a 6’10”, 245 pound white boy with thick, round Harry Potter glasses. Oh, but this white boy could jump. BOY, could he jump!
George Mikan was professional basketball’s first superstar.It was HE who redefined basketball from a game dominated by quick, small players into a game dominated by giants. He was the first illustrious professional center. No one at that size ever had that brand of mobility and dexterity on the basketball court…he evolved the game…he created an example that future players could emulate. Prolific rebounder, shot blocker and “raper”of small defenders with his ambidextrous hook shot.
George Mikan and one of the first “trading cards” from a Wheaties box.
During his first season with the Lakers, he ended the season with 27.4 points and 2.9 assists per game. I find this following anecdote on Mikan as an illustration to his prowess on the court. In the 1950-51 season, the Lakers played the Fort Wayne Pistons, Pistons ahead 19-18, were afraid of Mikan making a comeback, just passed the ball around without attempting to make a basket. This would be the lowest scoring NBA game in history; the shot clock would be introduced four years later. Of those 18 points, Mikan scored 15 points, or 83.3% of histeam’s points, thus setting an NBA record. Imagine Melo, KD, LeBron scoring 83.3%of their points. Assuming an average NBA would garner 110 points, that’s 91points. 91 POINTS!!!UNREAL!!
I KNOW! I KNOW! I shouldn’t cross-generationally comparestatistics…..but still.
During the 1953-54 season, Mikan had been on the decline and decided to retire, later citing his growing family needing him. He averaged18.1 points, 14.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game that season. At the time of his retirement, Mikan had suffered 10 broken bones. He came back during the middle of the 55-56 season. He played 37 games, averaging a mere 10.5 points,8.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. The Lakers lost in the first playoff round that season.
Mikan was such a force on the court he caused the NBA to make a few rule changes because of his superiority on the court. One was the “Mikan Rule”, the widening of the lane from 6 feet to 12 feet and of course the shot clock.
A list of George Mikan’s Accomplishments:
*5x BAA/NBA Champion
*2x NBL Champion
*NBL Rookie Of The Year
*2x NBL Season Scoring Leader
3x NBA Season Scoring Leader
*NBA All-Star Game MVP
*4x NBA All-Star
*6x All-BAA/NBA First Team
*NBA 25th Anniversary Team
*NBA 35th Anniversary Team
*NBA 50 Greatest Players
He was also a founding father of the ABA, becoming its first Commissioner in 1967. He would institute the 3-point line and retire just 2years later. He spear-headed a group to get a professional basketball team inMinnesota. He received his wish when the Minnesota Timberwolves pranced their way into the area. Outside of the Target Center, there is a statue commemorating his greatness. George was inducted into the Naismith HOF in 1959 and was cited as the greatest player of the first half of the century.
Statue outside of Target Center
Mikan set the stage for the Modern Age of the NBA dominated by tall, powerful players. Without his presence into the early birthing years of the NBA, it is apparent that the sport may not be what we see today. Shaq sums up the presence of George Mikan the best, “Without Number 99[Mikan], there is no me.”