After his playing career, Mikan became one of the founders of the American Basketball Association (ABA), serving as commissioner of the league. He was also vital for the forming of the Minnesota Timberwolves. In his later years, Mikan was involved in a long-standing legal battle against the NBA, fighting to increase the meager pensions for players who had retired before the league became lucrative. In 2005, Mikan died after a long battle with diabetes.
George Mikan was born in Joliet, Illinois, and was of Croatian descent. As a boy, he shattered one of his knees so badly that he was kept in bed for a year and a half. In 1938, Mikan attended the ChicagoArchbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary and originally wanted to be a priest, but then moved back home to finish at Joliet Catholic. Mikan did not seem destined to become an athlete. When Mikan entered Chicago's DePaul University in 1942, he stood 6' 10", weighed 245 pounds, moved awkwardly because of his frame, and wore thick glasses for his near-sightedness.