In 7 weeks, I will turn 30. Needless to say that I never saw Mikan play. I've never seen the Lakers not being in Los Angeles. But, as a soon to be thirtysomething....I know George Mikan. I know what Mikan means to the NBA and professional basketball. I mean, there may not be any if it wasn't for him.
Back when Mikan played, there were a slew of pro leagues. And there were a slew of teams spread everywhere. Mikan was the star that lifted it all. Just as Dr. J kept the ABA going in the 1970s [an ultimately the reason why the Pacers, Spurs, Nets and Nuggets are in the league today]....Mikan kept the NBA and it predicessors afloat. Heck, he kept basketball afloat. The college game at that time was full of scandal and shady figures. And the only other alternatives were barnstorming teams like the Harlem Globetrotters. His hard work, physical play, unheard of athletic ability and sheer dominance brought eyes to the BAA, NBL and then the NBA.
He is the original star. He was Jordan before there was a Jordan. Really, as far as importance, he was Shaq and Wilt combined. He was the Babe Ruth of basketball. Buddy Holly in sneakers. The first great Laker center. The first great.
Everything below is from George Mikan Biography
The marquee above Madison Square Garden aptly told the George Mikan story. It used to read: "George Mikan vs. Knicks." The first dominant big man in professional basketball and the game's first true superstar, George Mikan played with a competitive fire and zest matched by few. During his college days at DePaul, the six-foot-ten Mikan revolutionized the game. In fact, Mikan, along with fellow Hall of Famer Bob Kurland, swatted away so many shots that in 1944 the NCAA introduced a rule that prohibited goaltending. Unaffected by therule change, the determined Mikan was a three-time All-America (1944, 1945, 1946) and led the nation in scoring in 1945 and 1946. Mikan's 120 points in three games led DePaul to the 1945 NIT championship. Mikan, who scored 1,870 points at DePaul, once tallied 53 against Rhode Island State, a remarkable feat considering he single-handedly outscored the entire Rhode Island State team.
Voted the "Greatest Player in the First Half-Century" by the Associated Press, Mikan enjoyed an extraordinary professional career. He won his first professional championship with the Chicago American Gears of the NBL in 1947 and captured six more pro titles (1 NBL-1948, 1 BAA-1949, and 4 NBA-1950, 1952-54). As the cornerstone of the Minneapolis Lakers, Mikan led the NBA in scoring three times (1949-52), played in the first four NBA All-Star Games (MVP 1953) and led the league in rebounding twice (1952, 1953).
- All-NBL First Team (1947, 1948)
- NBL MVP (1948)
- All-BAA First Team (1949)
- All-NBA First Team (1950-54)
- Four-time NBA All-Star (1951-54)
- NBA All-Star Game MVP, after scoring 22 points (1953)
- NBL championships with the Chicago Gears (1947) and Minneapolis Lakers (1948)
- BAA championship with Minneapolis Lakers (1949)
- NBA championships with Minneapolis Lakers (1950, 1952-54)
- Scored 11,764 points (22.6 ppg) in nine pro seasons, best in league history when he retired
- Led the league in scoring six times (1946-52), including a career-high 28.4 ppg in 1951
- Led the league in rebounding in 1953 (1,007, 14.4 rpg) and in rebounding average (1952, 13.5 rpg)
- Annually one of the league leaders in free throw attempts (4,597) for a career
- Retired following the 1954-55 season but came back to play 37 games in 1955-56
- Voted the game's greatest player for the first half century
- NBA 25th Anniversary All-Time Team (1970)
- NBA 35th Anniversary All-Time Team (1980)
- NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team (1996)
- Coached the NBA Minneapolis Lakers (1957-58)